The National Book Foundation has awarded its fifth annual Innovations in Reading Prizes to five organizations that are demonstrating passion,
creativity, dedication, and leadership in the service of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading. The winners are: City National Bank for Reading Is the Way Up®, a program based on the belief that reading is vital to attaining career success which sponsors literary activities and programs for young people in the communities that they serve; Little Free Library, a movement that inspires people to erect structures to house free books for exchange in their communities; the Uni Project, a portable reading room that transforms any public space into an environment for books and learning; the Uprise Books Project, which encourages underprivileged teens to read by providing them with "forbidden" books and a safe place to read and discuss them; and Worldreader, a nonprofit that provides people in the developing world with access to digital books via ereaders and mobile phones.

The winners hail from Los Angeles, California; Hudson, Wisconsin; New York, New York; Vancouver, Washington; and Seattle, Washington. Each winner will receive $2,500, a framed certificate, and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to attend a special luncheon at the Ford Foundation, where they will present their work to funders, other people in the field, and reporters. While in New York, all winners will attend National Book Award-related activities, such as 5 Under 35, the Finalists Reading, and the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on November 20, 2013.

The winners are:
City National Bank for Reading Is the Way Up®
Los Angeles, CA

City National Bank believes that a good education and the ability to learn throughout one's career are vital to success in today's world, and it all starts with reading.

Reading Is the Way Up® was started in 2002 to address the plight of school libraries and the lack of current and compelling books available to students. To date, through strategic partnerships with Barnes and Noble and Reading Is Fundamental, the program has placed over 170,000 books into the hands of students.

In 2005, a literacy grant component was added to the program. Since then, more than $600,000 in grants has been awarded to elementary, middle, and high school teachers in the five states where City National has offices. In 2011, school author visits were added to the program, and each student in attendance gets a signed copy of the author's book. In addition, City National colleagues are encouraged to participate in the program and are given paid time off to do so.

Little Free Library
Hudson, WI (link)

In 2010, when Todd Bol and Rick Brooks first shared ideas about what was to become the Little Free Library movement, the idea was simple-a box of books that looked like a one-room school house with a sign that said "Free Books." Posted in his front yard by the St. Croix River in Hudson, Wisconsin, the first model was a memorial to Bol's mother, a teacher who loved to read. But the curiosity and delight of neighbors suggested there was something more to it. The phrase "Take a Book, Return a Book" explained it pretty well, the name Little Free Library stuck, and the mission became clear-to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries around the world.

By late 2011, nearly 400 Little Free Libraries had been installed in the U.S. Within two more years, the total had swelled to between 6,000 and 8,000 in forty-two countries, from Ghana to Japan. Millions of people have opened the doors of Little Free Libraries to find good books donated by their neighbors and contributed their favorites for others to read.

The Uni Project
New York, NY (link)

The Uni is a portable reading room for New York City conceived of and run by Leslie and Sam Davol. It provides a new kind of amenity for city residents, while fostering a stronger, more prominent culture of reading and learning.

The Uni consists of lightweight cubes that serve as shelves and stack to create a place to gather. Benches provide seating, and volunteers act as hosts. The people who gather around are transformed into readers on a kind of stage, and neighborhoods are transformed into places where the value of reading and learning is recognized, promoted, and shared.

The Uni was launched with a crowd-funding campaign and put into service on September 11, 2011. In 2012, Leslie and Sam deployed the Uni ten times in seven different New York City neighborhoods, and also shipped a second Uni to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

In 2013, with the support of foundations and a growing list of contributors, the project will more than double the number of NYC deployments. The project will also launch a new cart design, which will be offered to neighborhoods and cities beyond the reach of the Uni in New York.

The Uprise Books Project
Vancouver, WA

The Uprise Books Project was founded in 2011 with a very simple mission: to encourage underprivileged teens to read by providing them with new banned and challenged books.

Why banned and challenged books? There are a couple of big hurdles when it comes to getting teens to read. Simply getting kids access to books is the first step, but just giving teens books isn't enough. Between family obligations, below-standard reading skills, and an environment that discourages anything close to intellectual activities, many disadvantaged teens need a better reason to read than simply being told "it's good for you."

The folks at Uprise believe that the "forbidden fruit" angle could provide that motivation. Anyone who's ever been a teenager knows that one of the best ways to pique their curiosity about something is to tell them they aren't allowed to know about it, so why not use that trait for good? Judging by the feedback Uprise has received after giving books to a few hundred teens, they think they just might be onto something.

Seattle, WA (link)

Worldreader is a nonprofit created in 2010 by David Risher (former executive) and Colin McElwee (former ESADE Business School's marketing director) whose mission is to make digital books (via e-readers and mobile phones) available to children and their families in the developing world. Worldreader combines new technologies, the mobile phone networks, and declining costs to provide immediate access to hundreds of thousands of local textbooks, storybooks, and international literature.

Via its e-reader programs, Worldreader has delivered over 480,000 e-books, impacting nearly 10,000 children and families in six sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, through Worldreader Mobile--book application--more than half a million people globally are reading a wide variety of books, from educational material to children's books, all on a device they already own--their mobile phone. Worldreader partners with African publishers to make their books available to children in the e-reader programs, and to everyone through Worldreader Mobile. At the same time, Worldreader's international publishing partners make their books available at no cost, exposing children and families everywhere to some of the best-known literature in the world.

Innovations in Reading is supported by a generous grant from Levenger.

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The Mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.

The 64th National Book Awards will take place on November 20, 2013.