Presenter of the National Book Awards

Innovations in Reading Prize, 2014

The Application process for the 2014 Innovations In Reading Prize is now closed.

The Foundation’s Executive Director and Director of Programs are currently reviewing all applications. Those considered most promising will be passed on to a committee of the Foundation’s board members, who will then make final selections. Winners will be announced on May 7, 2014.

The Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize recognizes exceptional initiatives and programs that have created and sustained a lifelong love of reading: thoughtful, groundbreaking projects that generate excitement and passion for literature and books.

The Foundation is particularly interested in applications from those that have developed interdisciplinary approaches and incorporate innovative thinking in design, technology, social change, social entrepreneurship, or other fields.

Potential candidates can enter themselves for consideration or be nominated by others.

Winners receive $2,500 each and are featured prominently on the Foundation's website and in other digital publicity that reaches around the world.

Please direct questions about the application process to Amy Gall at

The complete guidelines are available on the Application Form.

A complete application package should be sent together via mail or email and includes:


Find out more about past Innovations In Reading prize recipients

Interview with Carolyn Rodriguez, Vice President, Program, and Administrative Manager of City National Bank/Reading is the Way Up

IMAGE: City National Bank/Reading is the Way UpNational Book Foundation: What inspired your Innovations in Reading-winning program?

Carolyn Rodriguez: Our belief is that a good education and the ability to learn throughout one’s career are vital to success in today’s world—and it all starts with reading. City National has a big stake in fostering a new generation of educated and informed youth. These young people are our future leaders, entrepreneurs, clients, and colleagues. That’s why we created Reading is the Way Up. This multifaceted literacy program is designed to address the plight of school libraries. The need is great. When we first launched our efforts in California during the spring of 2002, the state ranked amongst the lowest in the nation for school library funding. Sadly, while some progress has been made, much has not changed. Even in this age of technology, books remain the foundation for learning. While the situation is better today than it was several years ago, public school libraries still do not have enough books, especially those that are current and compelling for kids. At City National, we understand our responsibility for making a difference in the communities where we live and work.

> Read the complete interview.


Interview with Rick Brooks, founder of Little Free Library

Image: Little Free Library

National Book Foundation: What inspired your Innovations in Reading-winning program?  

Rick Brooks: Funny how the Innovations in Reading program focuses on "thinking outside the box," because the prototype Little Free Library was just that—a box of books in Todd Bol's front yard. Both the structure itself and its contents had value. What we soon realized together was that what happened outside that box could establish a rich combination of purposes—new cultural norms for giving and sharing, friendships across generations and cultures, new dissemination channels for books, new ways to extend the reach of public libraries, and much more. To be honest, our inspiration came from many different directions—our mothers and teachers, book lovers and favorite authors. Illiterate farmers and poor families in developing countries also fit into the mix, as do young people with an indefatigable desire to learn, neighbors who are lonely, and people who have a yearning for a sense of community. So do people like Lutie Stearns, the Wisconsin librarian who delivered nearly 1,400 wooden boxes of books to tiny communities throughout Wisconsin between 1895 and 1912. Storytellers and pioneers who knew they had something important to offer and refused to give up.

> Read the complete interview.

Interview with Leslie Davol, creator of The Uni ProjecT


National Book Foundation:What inspired your Innovations in Reading-winning program?

Leslie Davol: We started sharing books and creating outdoor reading rooms because we love the city. When you walk through different cities, you pick up on different priorities. Are you dodging bicycles or cars? Can you find a place to sit down? Where are the playgrounds? Look closer and you’ll see differences in the prominence of books. At one end of the spectrum, Paris comes to mind—there seems to be a book store every couple of blocks.

New Yorkers love books and reading. They say that education and learning are top priorities for themselves and for their children. But sometimes, the urban environment of New York can make you think that we’re more interested in just about anything else, from cell phones to shoe shopping. The Uni reading room is simply a way to unleash New Yorkers' passion for reading and learning by using available public space to gather around these activities. It’s a simple but powerful idea, especially in the middle of a city of 8 million potential readers.

> Read the complete interview.

Justin Stanley speaks to the NBF about UPRISE Books

UPRISE supports the reading of banned books.
Awesome kid above is Sam E. (Photo by Bree Ogden)

National Book Foundation: What inspired your Innovations in Reading - winning program?

Justin Stanley: My family didn't have much when I was a kid. My younger brother and I were raised by a single mother and when we were in elementary school we were completely dependent on government and community help to make ends meet. I knew what government cheese tasted like and the various ways people looked at you when your mom pulled out a book of food stamps in the grocery store line, what it was like to be we-have-to-skip-the-electric-bill-this-month-if-we-want-to-eat poor.

I also remember the day in second grade when I came to school to find a group of strangers from some place called "RIF" standing behind a table of books, telling us kids that we could have one. For free. I couldn't tell you what specific book I chose that day, but I've never forgotten how great it felt to bring it home.

> Read the complete interview.

Application design by Erica Hood.