Innovations in Reading Prize

The National Book Foundation’s annual Innovations in Reading Prize awards $10,000 to an individual or organization for developing a project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading.

Each year the National Book Foundation, with support from the Levenger Foundation, awards the Innovations in Reading Prize, a $10,000 prize awarded to an individual or organization that has developed an innovative project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading in the community they serve.

The winner of the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize is the Academy of American Poets and its Teach This Poem project, a weekly publication for K-12 educators that empowers teachers and students to make poetry an integral part of the educational experience. In addition to the winner, the Innovations in Reading Prize also identifies four honorable mentions each year. For the first year, these organizations will be awarded with $1,000 to recognize their meaningful work. The 2018 honorable mentions are the Appalachian Prison Book Project, Friends of the Homer Library, Jewish Women International’s National Library Initiative, and Words Without Borders Campus.

For more details about this year’s winner, the honorable mentions, or the Innovations in Reading Prize, please contact Jordan Smith: jsmith@nationalbook.org

Winner:

ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS and its TEACH THIS POEM project
The Academy of American Poets launched Teach This Poem in 2015 as a free resource that helps teachers and students actively integrate poetry into their educational lives. With over 27,000 teachers subscribed, Teach This Poem digitally distributes a weekly poem accompanied by unique curriculum and related teaching materials such as artwork, maps, and photographs curated by the Academy staff and their Educator in Residence, Dr. Mady Holzer. Poems are selected to address timely topics, and classroom activities are designed to provide cross-disciplinary strategies for incorporating poetry into daily school work and encourage not only the appreciation of poetry, but also the development of creative and critical thinking skills.
Academy of American Poets: www.poets.org
Teach This Poem: www.poets.org/poetsorg/teach-poem 


Honorable mentions:

APPALACHIAN PRISON BOOK PROJECT 
The Appalachian Prison Book Project sends free books to incarcerated people in six states in the Appalachian region and facilitates books clubs and reading programs run with West Virginia University faculty and graduate students.
aprisonbookproject.wordpress.com

JEWISH WOMEN INTERNATIONAL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY INITIATIVE
Jewish Women International’s National Library Initiative has opened 70 children’s libraries in domestic violence shelters throughout the country since 2005, providing safe and stable literary environments for mothers and families.
www.jwi.org/nli

FRIENDS OF THE HOMER LIBRARY 
Friends of the Homer Library, based in Homer, Alaska, reaches out to communities without easy access to the library’s resources, including outreach to Old Russian Believer families in remote villages outside the Homer area, whose schools do not have school libraries.
friendshomerlibrary.org


WORDS WITHOUT BORDERS CAMPUS
Words Without Borders Campus facilitates the building of cultural understanding through contemporary international literature with a free, online resource available to students and educators that features English translations of international texts.
wwb-campus.org

Innovations in Reading logoSince 2009, the National Book Foundation has awarded the Innovations in Reading Prize to an individual or organization that inspires readers and engages new audiences with literature. From bicycle-powered libraries that serve Portland, OR’s homeless community to empowering Harry Potter fans to build libraries around the world, the Innovations in Reading Prize recognizes literary activists who share the National Book Foundation’s aims to engage readers from all backgrounds.

Each spring, the Foundation’s Board of Directors names one $10,000 winner, as well as four projects for honorable mentions. The free, online application opens annually in late January.

Barbershop Books, Winner of the 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize

The 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize has been awarded to Barbershop Books, a community-based reading program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops.

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Books@Work, 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize honorable mention

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Great Reading Games, 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize honorable mention

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Poetry in Motion, 2017 Innovations in Reading honorable mention

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Reach Out and Read, 2017 Innovations in Reading honorable mention

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Next Chapter Book Club, Winner of the 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize

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The Harry Potter Alliance, 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize Honorable Mention

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LGBT Books to Prisoners, 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize Honorable Mention

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Limitless Libraries, 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize Honorable Mention

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Traveling Stories, 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize honorable mention

Each year the National Book Foundation, with support from the Levenger Foundation, awards the Innovations in Reading Prize to an … Continue reading "Traveling Stories, 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize honorable mention"

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Reach Incorporated,
Winner of the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize

The National Book Foundation is proud to present Reach Incorporated with its $10,000 Innovations in Reading Prize, made possible by … Continue reading "Reach Incorporated, Winner of the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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African Poetry Book Fund,
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading

When acclaimed poet Kwame Dawes couldn’t find a press devoted to African poetry, he resolved to start his own. Established … Continue reading "African Poetry Book Fund, Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading"

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Call Me Ishmael,
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize

Call Me Ishmael is a simple concept: anyone can call “Ishmael” and leave him an anonymous voicemail about their favorite … Continue reading "Call Me Ishmael, Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Lamda Literary,
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize

Founded in 1989, Lambda Literary gives voice to the LGBTQ community in powerful and essential ways. Marginalized and disenfranchised communities … Continue reading "Lamda Literary, Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Motionpoems,
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize

Motionpoems are a hybrid art form, mixing poetry and animation to bring poems to new audiences. Founded in 2008 by … Continue reading "Motionpoems, Honorable Mention for the 2015 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Blue Star Families’ Books on Bases, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Blue Star Families’ Books on Bases, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Books for Kids, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Books for Kids, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Chicago Books to Women in Prison, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Chicago Books to Women in Prison, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Hopa Mountain’s StoryMakers Program, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Hopa Mountain’s StoryMakers Program, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Las Comadres Para Las Americas, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Las Comadres Para Las Americas, Winner of the 2014 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Little Free Library, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Little Free Library, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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The Uni Project, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "The Uni Project, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Reading is the Way Up, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Reading is the Way Up, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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The Uprise Books Project, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "The Uprise Books Project, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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WorldReader, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "WorldReader, Winner of the 2013 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Bookends, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Bookends, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Lilli Leight, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize

Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards five prizes of $2,500 each to individuals and institutions … Continue reading "Lilli Leight, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Reading Against the Odds, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize

Literacy Chicago’s Reading Against the Odds (RAO) reading discussion group was started in 2007 by Jaye Jones with the support … Continue reading "Reading Against the Odds, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Real Men Read Storytime and Mentoring, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize

The Real Men Read Storytime and Mentoring program was created and developed in September 2007 by Inger Upchurch, manager of … Continue reading "Real Men Read Storytime and Mentoring, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Street Books, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize

Street Books is a bicycle-powered mobile library serving people who live outside in Portland, Oregon. Founded in June 2011, the … Continue reading "Street Books, Winner of the 2012 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Electric Literature, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize

Electric Literature is the quarterly journal and upstart publishing company The Washington Post called “a refreshingly bold act of optimism.” … Continue reading "Electric Literature, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Kore Press, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize

For eighteen years, Kore Press has been defined by innovation. Whether it’s publishing the highest quality women’s literature, educating youth, … Continue reading "Kore Press, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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My Own Book, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize

When Burt Freeman retired as general counsel of a major New York City bank twelve years ago, he put his … Continue reading "My Own Book, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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YARN, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize

Founded in 2010, the Young Adult Reading Network (YARN) is the first independent online literary journal dedicated to young adult (YA) … Continue reading "YARN, Winner of the 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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826 Valencia, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize

826 Valencia is a nonprofit writing and tutoring center dedicated to helping students ages 6 to 18 improve their writing … Continue reading "826 Valencia, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Cellpoems, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize

Cellpoems is a poetry journal distributed via text message and on the Web that publishes original work by some of … Continue reading "Cellpoems, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Free Minds, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop uses books and creative writing to empower teenaged boys charged and incarcerated as … Continue reading "Free Minds, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Mount Olive Baptist Church, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize

Mount Olive Baptist is a small church in a rural community in South Carolina where the nearest library branch is … Continue reading "Mount Olive Baptist Church, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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United Through Reading, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize

Imagine a soldier, stationed in Iraq, entering a tent, dropping his gear, and picking up a copy of Charlotte’s Web … Continue reading "United Through Reading, Winner of the 2010 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize

When James Patterson found out his son Jack didn’t share the same love of books as his father, James took … Continue reading "James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Maricopa County Library District, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize

Maricopa County Library District (AZ) operates 17 libraries throughout one of the largest and fastest growing counties in the U.S. … Continue reading "Maricopa County Library District, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Read to Me International, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize

Read To Me International Foundation is a Hawaii-based non-profit organization devoted to promoting children’s literacy. With the simple mission of … Continue reading "Read to Me International, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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readergirlz, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize

readergirlz is the foremost online book community for teen girls, led by five critically acclaimed YA authors—Dia Calhoun (Avielle of … Continue reading "readergirlz, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Robert Wilder, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize

Like many other teachers and writers, I try to find myriad ways to get good books into other people’s hands. … Continue reading "Robert Wilder, Winner of the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize"

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Each year, the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize awards $10,000 to an individual or organization that has developed an innovative project which creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading in the community they serve. In addition, the Foundation recognizes four projects to receive the designation of honorable mention.

Both the winner and honorable mentions are invited to participate in the Foundations’ annual Why Reading Matters Conference.

To stay up-to-date with Innovations in Reading news, please subscribe to our newsletter

Applications for the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize are now closed.
Applications for the 2019 Prize will open in mid-January.

If you have questions, please contact Jordan Smith at jsmith@nationalbook.org or call 212.685.0261.

 

Who is eligible?

All U.S. citizens and American institutions are eligible for this prize. Previous winners can apply for new initiatives.

Examples include:

  • After-school and community-based programs
  • Non-profits such as museums and libraries
  • Startups focused on reading and literature

What is the prize?

  • There are four honorable mentions, and one winner of a $10,000 prize
  • Announcements via the press, social media, our newsletter, and on the NBF website
  • Invitation to present at National Book Foundation’s annual Why Reading Matters conference.

Note: if you are interested in submitting a proposal for a Why Reading Matters presentation in addition to your Innovations in Reading application, you can read more here. Conference proposals are reviewed and selected independently from the Innovations in Reading Prize selection process.

What are we looking for?

Applicants should:

  • Share the National Book Foundation’s mission to expand the audience for literature in America;
  • Focus on reading, and not exclusively literacy skills;
  • Demonstrate innovation in mission, approach, and/or audience/community served;
  • Apply for an existing program/project/initiative with evidence of success—as Innovations in Reading is a prize and not a grant, the goal is to reward work already underway, encouraging it to continue and/or expand.

We strongly encourage applicants to read about past winners to get a sense of programs we support.

How is a winner chosen?

Applications will be reviewed and selected by National Book Foundation staff and members of our Board of Directors.

How do I apply?

You may submit your own application, or nominate an organization or individual’s project (please notify the nominee you are submitting an application for the Innovations in Reading Prize on their behalf).

You will need:

  • Contact information and organizational details
  • Two reference letters from individuals familiar with the work of the applicant (if you are nominating an organization or individual, you can write one of the reference letters)
  • Several short narratives (500 words or fewer unless otherwise noted):
    • Description of the project
    • Description of the community served by the project (250 words or fewer)
    • Details of how the Project impacts the community served
    • What makes the Project innovative
    • Information on how prize money would be used

Please direct any questions about the application process to Jordan Smith, jsmith@nationalbook.org.

To stay up-to-date with Innovations in Reading news, please subscribe to our newsletter.

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