Recent Programs

Learn More About National Book Foundation's Recent Education and Public Programming

National Book Foundation has hosted a slate of mission-driven public and education programs, all designed to support and expand the audience for literature in America. Learn more about recent programs and initiatives at the Foundation.

Author Jason Reynolds at the DC Public Library for a celebration of the literary legacy and seminal works of James Baldwin. Photo credit: Jeremy Mines

The National Book Foundation’s Author in Focus program seeks to highlight and reframe the work of selected, historical authors from the National Book Awards family whose work is deserving of a renewed celebration and revival. Author in Focus consists of a year of nationwide educational and public programming celebrating these important writers and contextualizing their work for today’s reader.

The National Book Awards has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing since its inception in 1950, when William Carlos Williams received the first Award for Poetry. William Faulkner was honored the following year for Fiction, and so on through time. Many previous Winners of the National Book Award are now firmly established in the canon of American literature, including Ralph Ellison, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bishop, and Adrienne Rich. Author in Focus is designed to shine the spotlight on some of the most singular National Book Awards–honored writers in our history.

Photos, video, and more from the inaugural year of Author in Focus: James Baldwin (2018-2019).

Next Chapter Book Club, 2016 Innovations In Reading Winner
Next Chapter Book Club, 2016 Innovations In Reading Winner

From 2009-2020, the National Book Foundation awarded the Innovations in Reading Prize to an individual or organization that inspired readers and engaged 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 recognized literary activists who share the National Book Foundation’s aims to engage readers from all backgrounds.

Each spring, the Foundation’s Board of Directors named one $10,000 winner, as well as up to four projects for honorable mentions.

View past honorees from 2009-2020.

Notes from the Reading Life with Desus Nice and Rebecca Carroll at the Bronx Library Center. Photo credit: Christian Rodriquez

Notes from the Reading Life is a discussion series featuring some of New York City’s most well-known and well-read residents discussing the books that excite and inspire them—the books they grew up with and the ones that guided them through their careers, helping to make them into who they are today. Presented in partnership with the New York Public Library, Notes from the Reading Life takes place branches throughout the city, with each event featuring a special guest from fields such as culture, art, entertainment, or public service in conversation with an acclaimed author—celebrating the formative role of books in both of their lives. Audience members receive free copies of a book selected in partnership with the speakers and local librarians, and each branch produces special future programming around that book.

View past events from 2018-2019 with Sarah Jessica Parker, Sonia Manzano, Desus Nice, and more.

St. Francis College President Miguel Martinez-Saenz welcoming attendees during the 2018 Why Reading Matters Conference. Photo credit: Christian Rodriguez

The National Book Foundation’s Why Reading Matters conference brings together diverse stakeholders to explore a simple idea, that reading matters, from a variety of complex perspectives that includes educators, service providers, writers, librarians, academics, publishing professionals, literary activists, and more.

From 2016 to 2018, the conference grew to a daylong event complete with a keynote presentation, celebration of the Innovations in Reading prize, author appearance, and a series of rich breakout sessions.

More information on the 2018 Why Reading Matters conference.

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