From 1997 to 2022, Literature for All of Us opened worlds by opening books–helping generations of young people read, write, and grow together through the organization’s unique trauma-informed book group model.

A 501c3 based first in Evanston, Illinois, and later in Chicago, Literature for All of Us worked across Chicagoland from the start, partnering with a wide array of host sites, including Chicago Public Schools, Lurie Children’s Hospital, YWCA Evanston North Shore, and many more over time. The organization prioritized hiring and training teaching artists as Book Group Leaders who created safe spaces for their groups, collected participants’ writing into printed books, and developed the volumes of lesson plans, writing prompts, and reflection exercises that comprises the Literature for All of Us Curricula. 

In March of 2022, the board voted to shutter the organization after several years of pandemic-era financial challenges amidst a shifting landscape for local arts and education non-profits. But the work of Literature for All of Us would live on.

In June of 2022, Literature for All of Us donated its remaining funds, books, journals, and art supplies, along with its Curricula files, to the Teen Services division of the Chicago Public Library. These resources became the seeds of a new initiative to have former Literature for All of Us Book Group Leaders train CPL Teen Services Librarians in the organization’s trauma-informed book group model and make book group materials available at libraries across the city. 

Additionally, this site would be archived through CPL’s involvement in the national Community Webs project. While some changes have been made to the site for preservation, much of the site exists as it did during the final years of the organization’s activity. We offer it as a record to the life of this life-changing organization, with bottomless gratitude to the supporters, staff, participants, and partners who made Literature for All of Us possible for so long. Thank you for what you have seeded. We’re thrilled to see the mission grow anew!   

– The Board of Literature for All of Us, 2022



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