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Burst into Books envisions a world that is transformed through intentional access to culturally responsive literature.


Our mission is to provide culturally relevant enrichment opportunities, engage and support the community through access to resources, and leverage the brilliance of Black people to cultivate published authors. 

Burst Into Books is a CPS Vendor and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to helping the youth deepen their love of reading by integrating the arts, providing opportunities for them to engage with those connected to the literacy field, and creating a space for them to express themselves. We are invested in supporting the whole family unit in order to establish long-lasting change.


In 2018, education professional, Jurema Gorham was in search of a book club for her 7 year old son who loved to read. Like many boys his age, Trey was into sports, but as a mother, Jurema was on the hunt for a program to stimulate his mind and engage in literacy outside of school hours. In addition she wanted the program to provide parental support. There was no luck. So Jurema did what any problem solving, thought leading parent and educator would do: she created a solution to bring impact to Chicago’s south side children, families and communities. 


And so Burst Into Books was born. 


Jurema recruited educated friends to join the team to support children ages 6 months to 18 years old. Jurema’s principal allowed her an opportunity to use her school as a space to host informational and book club meetings. Along with the team, over twenty people showed up at the informational. From there,  they invited guest authors, formed groups based upon expertise, and researched book donations and grants. Art tables with crafts, games, chrome books and online reading was made available. Jurema transformed the teacher lounge into a make-shift parent lounge so parents could use the time to read, relax or catch up on work emails. It was also important for the program to be free.

As the program grew, the parents began to ask for support at home with their children’s academic studies. As a response, Burst Into Books introduced online workshops, Lit Talk. Through the online workshop initiative, reading specialists provided reading and writing tips for all ages and levels, once a month. Shortly afterwards, The Front Row was rolled out, an online Facebook and YouTube Live show where literacy experts shared their stories on how they got into writing and answered questions in real time. Guests tuned in from all over: Philly, California, South Carolina, Vegas and more. Both Lit Talk and The Front Row promote literacy and provide powerful online workshops for the Burst Into Books' community. 


Yoga was introduced to families while incorporating literacy. Story time and yoga with parents and children became a favorite. Then there were family Paint & Sip events in which Burst Into Books partnered with bookstores and introduced Family & Educator night. In order to fill the gap as it relates to the lack of diversity in book publicity, the organization spotlighted books by authors of color.

By 2019, Burst Into Books has created a visible presence, providing diverse storytellers, and accessible reading programs that are culturally relevant in Roseland, Pullman, West Pullman, Morgan Park, Englewood, Gresham, Auburn, Bronzeville and Hyde Park, and by focusing on the unique needs of these individual Chicago communities. Currently, we have been able to expand our impact both nationally and internationally as our virtual programs continue to grow. "Remixing the Narrative" is not just our tagline but what we are committed to doing daily! 

Burst Into Books' Theory of Change


To foster a love for reading among culturally diverse communities through a culturally relevant literacy programming.

  • Culturally relevant materials and approaches increase engagement in literacy activities.

  • Cultural relevance promotes a sense of identity and pride, positively influencing literacy development.

  • Family and community involvement in literacy activities positively impacts learners.



A Young Woman Reading a Book

1. Culturally Responsive Curriculum

  • Develop literacy materials that reflect the cultural diversity of the community.

  • Incorporate culturally relevant themes and narratives into the curriculum.


2. Community-Based Reading Initiatives

  • Establish community reading clubs, enrichment programs and events that celebrate diverse cultures.

  • Collaborate with local cultural institutions to promote literacy in culturally significant spaces.


3. Family Literacy Workshops

  • Conduct workshops that empower families to engage in literacy activities at home.

  • Provide resources that connect literacy with cultural traditions and values.


Immediate Outcomes

Increased Cultural Connection:

  • Learners express a sense of cultural identity through literacy activities.

  • Positive feedback on the cultural relevance of materials and approaches.

Community Engagement:

  • Growing participation in community-based literacy events.

  • Increased involvement of families in literacy support activities.

Intermediate Outcomes

Improved Literacy Skills:

  • Evidence of enhanced reading and writing skills among program participants.

  • Positive shifts in literacy assessment scores within the targeted community.

Cultural Empowerment:

  • Demonstrated pride and confidence among learners in sharing their cultural stories.

  • Increased representation of diverse cultural perspectives in literacy outputs.

Ultimate Outcome

Culturally Empowered and Literate Community:

  • Higher literacy rates within the community.

  • Increased enthusiasm for reading and writing among individuals of all ages.


  • Literacy assessment scores and improvements.

  • Attendance and participation rates in community literacy events.

  • Qualitative feedback on the cultural relevance and impact of the program.


  • Resistance to change or skepticism about the value of culturally relevant approaches.

  • Insufficient community involvement leading to a lack of cultural authenticity.

  • External factors such as economic challenges affecting the community's ability to fully engage in the program.

Regular assessment and adaptation of the program are crucial to address emerging challenges and ensure ongoing cultural relevance in literacy initiatives.


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