Burst Into Books' mission is to rebuild our village through advocacy, the arts, educational and family programming. We envision a world transformed by cultural literacy through education.
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.
Our staple program is our monthly book club sessions in which we support the entire spectrum of the development of the child, from 6 months of age to 18 years old. Each group has been carefully created with a curriculum that is age-appropriate, culturally relevant, and academic-driven. A reading guide/group leader and literacy expert guest is selected by the Founder and Executive Director, Jurema Gorham.
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!