March 2022

Dear Literature for All of Us community,

With heavy hearts, Literature for All of Us (LFAOU) will be closing its doors, effective June 30, 2022.  Over 25 years of Literature for All of Us, so many people have offered their energy, creativity, and generosity to a shared mission of opening worlds by opening books.  We thank them all deeply for it.

In June 2021, the Board made the necessary decision to pause service and assess the organization’s future.  In the months since, a working group consisting of Board members, former staff, alumni and a part-time worker explored the history, current circumstances and potential for the organization, with consulting support from the Executive Service Corp (ESC).  That process found the organization grappling with multiple operational challenges of the COVID-era and beyond and a shifting nonprofit landscape, which led to this decision.

LFAOU’s inspired book group model, lovingly created and nurtured by Karen Thomson, impacted and changed the lives of thousands of youth, young adults and others.  We offer our deepest thanks to staff, board members, supporters, program partners and especially to our dedicated, talented book group leaders and to our many thoughtful and brave participants.

If you have questions or would like to discuss our path forward, please reach out to Board President, Newlin Wollaston ( or Board Vice-President, Julie Victor (  For all other inquiries, please email

We thank you deeply for your interest in the work of LFAOU.


Newlin Wollaston, President



Literature for All of Us uses books and writing to facilitate circles of connection, healing, and growth in the face of social inequity. We provide weekly trauma-informed book groups to community organizations and schools across Chicagoland, inviting participants to explore the transformative power of their own voices.

Our Pillars

literary arts non-profit

Deepening Connection to Literature:

 Literature for All of Us increases our participants’ interest in and connection to literature through original curricula that focus on themes and authors relevant to participants’ cultural identities and experiences.

literary arts non-profits

Social-Emotional Learning:

As a literary arts non-profit serving the community, our programs improve the self-confidence of our participants as well as their connection to and interest in school and peer relationships.

literary arts non-profit

Resilience Building:

All book group leaders are trained to infuse a trauma-informed lens into the curriculum they create as well as their program delivery, creating a safe space for self-exploration and expression.


Provide trauma-informed reading and writing circles for more than 600 youth and adults per year | Facilitate 21 weekly book groups at 15 Chicagoland sites | Distribute more than 1,000 new books including novels, poetry collections, children’s books and writing journals | Publish 20+ original poetry anthologies | Promote family literacy through book group programs for pregnant and parenting teens | Partner with programs statewide to share our award-winning curriculum | Support workforce development with soft skills training

Latest Book Group Stories

Reflections, notes, and other musings from program staff.

The Sound of Navigating

The Sound of Navigating

by Gabriela Garay Throughout the pandemic, our participants had to navigate a lot — online schooling, work, at times dealing with the COVID-19 virus themselves, and sometimes their own children’s online schooling. But no matter how small or sporadic attendance has...

Good as New

Good as New

by haydée souffrant “You can only prepare someone for life, and hope they pick good choices. You cannot control their life, but you can control the way they look at life by what you tell them!” –  Sweetlana Padilla, Book Group Participant at Simpson Academy for Young...

Falling Into Rhythm

Falling Into Rhythm

by haydée souffrant “You know…I thought book group was gonna be boring, but it’s pretty dope. We talk about real stuff, and that’s cool.” – Darlene O., Book Group Participant, Upton Sinclair High SchoolCan you believe it’s already November? Six weeks into many of our...

Community Voices

How Our Book Groups Change Lives

Opening Worlds By Opening Books