Burst Into Books is a nonprofit organization that is focused on rebuilding our village through advocacy, the arts, educational and family programming. Our mission is to empower the community through teaching cultural literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy, reading and writing.
Burst Into Books is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on 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 providing a space for them to express themselves.
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, chromebooks 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 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. Storytime 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, Englewood, Gresham, Auburn and Hyde Park, and by focusing on the unique needs of these individual Chicago communities.