Annual Appeal

Any author will tell you that a book truly comes to life in the presence of its reader. While the words on the page are usually what fosters that connection, we at Behind the Book go one step further to create real relationships between authors and students in classrooms throughout New York City.

For 12th grader Mariama at International Community High School in the Bronx, reading and writing were already a passion. When she first learned that she was going to meet the authorMarina Budhos, she penned a letter describing how much she adores books from the smell of the freshly printed papers, to the words that fill [her] most empty parts.Books, to Mariama, are not just stories, but tools that transport her into the lives of others where “characters become families.”

Her classmate Windila, a self-described deep and thoughtful philosopher,” described a similar love for books. She appreciated Marina not just as an author but as a role model for young women like herself. At the start of her final year of high school, truly a crossroads, Windila dwelled on ways to create positive change. Her philosophy is that life is a book full of chapters where you can start a good chapter and the next will be deceiving but you don’t stop reading, keep going and see the change that happens.

Nothing makes us happier than seeing our students connect so deeply to the work we do with them. But here at Behind the Book, we’re not just reaching the Mariamas and Windilas of the world. We’re also here to connect kids who don’t like to read to books and authors, and to reading and writing skills that strengthen their education as a whole.

While eager scholars get excited about the prospect of our programs, many of their classmates need to look at a book through a different lens to be able to appreciate its story. That’s why our programs are composed of a series of workshops that include art, field trips, special guest speakers and volunteer coaches who work with kids in small groups. Each student’s individual learning style is addressed in a Behind the Book program. And, each student goes home with at least one brand new book.

Our organization is needed more than ever before, as several nonprofits serving our communities have closed their doors. Though funding has never been less certain, we’re expanding, because the gaps that we’re here to fill keep growing.

The students in our classes are nearly always from low-income families—last year, an average of 87% were living at or below the federal poverty line. This school year, Behind the Book will be serving 2,000 students and distributing nearly 12,000 books—motivating kids with an eagerness to learn, AND motivating those who have struggled in the past.

We ask that you increase your support this year—our biggest year yet—and the year you too, are most needed.

A generous donor has agreed to donate an additional $5,000 if we meet our ambitious fundraising goal. This is your chance to double your gift to support kids in need.

Please make your gift to Behind the Book today by mail or online at We guarantee that your donation will be put to work in NYC classrooms right away!

Happy reading,

Jo Umans

Executive Director