About Us

Behind the Book NYC literacy nonprofit student art

About us

Behind the Book inspires students to love reading by bringing accomplished authors and their books into classrooms in innovative literacy programs. We partner with classroom teachers and work directly in NYC public schools – exclusively those at which 75% or more of the student population lives at or below the federal poverty line. All programs are designed to meet Common Core Learning Standards and fit the class curriculum.

Jo Umans founded Behind the Book in 2003. That first year, the organization coordinated 15 author visits. Today, we’re working in over 60 classrooms annually throughout New York City, serving approximately 1,700 students and distributing over 3,500 books. Jo continues to lead the organization as its Executive Director. Since our founding, we have served more than 12,800 students and donated more than 17,500 books to students, to classrooms, and to school libraries.

Click here to view a video about us.