CBR_Logo2Here at Chicago Book Review, we love books. We love reading. But we really don’t like reading about all the shootings and murders that are plaguing this great city of ours. The causes are myriad, but so are the solutions.

There is no one, best way to alleviate the boredom, frustration, unemployment, and anger that push neighbors to shoot their own neighbors. Many great local organizations are working to provide safe havens, education, and other forms of support that will keep kids off the streets, that help keep families together, that provide shelter and food to those who need it. We like reading about organizations like that.

But, sometimes, reading isn’t enough. Sometimes action is called for.

And so today, I propose a new initiative: BOOKS, NOT BULLETS

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
—Frederick Douglas

Can books keep neighbors from shooting their neighbors? Maybe not. But can books help people learn to read? Can they help improve literacy rates? Can improved literacy rates help reduce unemployment? Will reduced unemployment help diminish the violence? Maybe.

Could books be part of a virtuous circle? Maybe.

Could providing books to those who can’t afford them or don’t have access to them help in some small way? Maybe.

Could an afternoon spent reading keep at-risk children off the streets, away from gangs and bullets and violence? Maybe.


“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.”
—Malcom X

With that, I encourage you, readers, to share your love of books and reading. You can do so through any number of organizations in and around Chicago, organizations that work hard to alleviate the violence, the suffering, the unemployment, and so many other ills that push neighbors to attack their neighbors.


“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.”
—Kofi Anan

Is this a solution? Maybe not.

Is it a start? Maybe.

Donate books. Donate money. Donate time. Share your love of books and reading with a child, with a struggling reader.

Please consider one of these organizations. It’s a start. If one book could stop one bullet from taking one life, isn’t it worth it?


“There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.”
—Mary Ellen Chase

Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition
First Book-Chicago
Literacy Chicago
Literacy Works
Open Books
UIC Center for Literacy

Have a favorite literacy organization that isn’t listed here? Share it with us!

—Kelli Christiansen


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4 responses to “BOOKS, NOT BULLETS

  1. Betty Nicholas

    Good post!

    Betty Nicholas
    Specialized Media Services


  2. lynnhaller

    Great post!

    There’s also Reach Out and Read Illinois and Evanston’s Literature for All of Us.


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