Innovations in Reading Prize

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

Innovations in Reading logoFrom 2009 to 2020, the National Book Foundation annually 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 has recognized literary activists who share the National Book Foundation’s aims to engage readers from all backgrounds.

The Foundation is not currently accepting applications for the Innovations in Reading Prize.

innovations in reading prize logoThe Foundation announced DIBS for Kids as the winner of the 2020 Innovations in Reading Prize, a $10,000 prize annually awarded to an individual or organization that has developed an innovative project that creates and sustains a lifelong love of reading. Chosen from a pool of almost one hundred applications, DIBS for Kids is a Nebraska-based literacy nonprofit founded by a former first-grade teacher with the aim of bringing in-home reading opportunities to all 46 elementary schools in the Omaha Public Schools district that have a poverty rate of over 70%.

In addition to the winner, the Innovations in Reading Prize also identifies honorable mentions each year, with a prize of $1,000 awarded to each. This year’s recipients are Bookleggers Library and Libros Para el Viaje, a project of Casa Camino Real bookstore. Both of these organizations reflect growing enthusiasm for community-driven efforts in the literary world.

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


DIBS for Kids, which stands for Delivering Infinite Book Shelves, is an Omaha-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is leveraging technology to disrupt the cycle of poverty through children’s literacy. Books in the home impact future life outcomes, yet 61% of children growing up in poverty do not have a single age-appropriate book at home. Our Mission is to support Omaha to become the nation’s first large, urban community to ensure that every child, regardless of income, has two things: (1.) Access to a great book to take home every night and (2.) A desire to read that book for fun as a path toward achieving third-grade reading proficiency. To help high-poverty schools achieve our mission, we first fundraise on their behalf to equip their K-3rd grade classrooms with books that students can freely take home each night. From there, DIBS classrooms become especially powerful through our web-based QR-code software which allows students to check those books in and out in a student-led, gamified way without placing an additional burden on teachers. Through these two supports, DIBS helps schools re-imagine the power of in-home reading by sending home an average of 80+ books with each student every school year.

Honorable mentions



Bookleggers is a nonprofit, mobile community library whose mission is to permeate Miami with books. Through programming and installations that place books in unexpected spaces, Bookleggers creates dynamic cultural experiences that increase book access and serve as a conduit for community exchange. Founded in 2012 as Miami’s public library system began facing consistent budgetary cuts and bookstores across the country continued closing. Bookleggers fills a much needed gap for person-to-person literary community in Miami year-round through county-wide, complimentary Bookboxes and monthly cultural events distributing free books.



Libros Para El Viaje/Books for the Journey began in the summer of 2018 as a response to the sequestration of Refugee families. They began to distribute books in Spanish, English, and Portuguese to adults, youth, and children on the U.S./México Border. The program will continue as long as there is a need. Libros Para El Viaje work in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association and with the Border Servant Corps in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Libros Para El Viaje


West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC)

Oakland International High School (OIHS)

Word Up Community Bookshop

The Academy of American Poets, Teach This Poem project

Appalachian Prison Book Project

Friends of the Homer Library

Jewish Women International’s National Library Initiative

Words Without Borders Campus

Barbershop Books


Great Reading Games

Poetry in Motion

Reach Out and Read

Next Chapter Book Club

The Harry Potter Alliance

LGBT Books to Prisoners

Limitless Libraries

Traveling Stories

Reach Incorporated

African Poetry Book Fund

Call Me Ishmael

Lambda Literary


Blue Star Families’ Books on Bases

Books for Kids

Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Hopa Mountain’s StoryMakers

Las Comadres Para Las Americas

Little Free Library

The Uni Project

Reading is the Way Up

The Uprise Books Project



Lilli Leight

Literacy Chicago's Reading Against the Odds

Real Men Read Storytime and Mentoring

Street Books

Electric Literature

Kore Press

My Own Book


826 Valencia


Free Minds

Mount Olive Baptist Church

United Through Reading

James Patterson’s Read Kiddo Read

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