Healing a Community with Literacy and Love | Louisville Book Festival

I’ve always believed that literacy is a fundamental human right. And I know I’m not alone. Countless thought leaders, educators, and change-makers have been working tirelessly for centuries to make sure Americans have the right to be able to read and write.

Imagine the power and the magic that could happen when these thought leaders join forces with book lovers, parents, authors, literacy organizations, and educators and converge to create healing as a community.

That is one of the many driving forces behind the creation of the Louisville Book Festival. So, why did I feel the need to add one more project to my already crazy-busy life?

Because I knew there is no better place to freely explore and exchange information and ideas, as well as demonstrate for ourselves and for future generations the power of books and reading. That sounds like an amazing reason to me.

What IS the Louisville Book Festival?

Louisville Book Festival

The Louisville Book Festival is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2018 (by Make A Way Media) to celebrate and promote the love and the benefits of reading, writing, and literacy in a very public and visible way. The October 23-24, 2020 festival is a two-day event that will work to help readers of all ages reconnect with books and fall in love with reading.

Beyond the excitement of this live offline event, is that it will also launch the Festival’s initiative to serve families and children year-around through book donations, school visits, and community-wide programming that is aimed at getting entire families to model steps to improve literacy. Nationally, there are many vibrant organizations shining the spotlight on the need to get books into the hands of young readers and I am proud to be involved with several of them.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) Online Event: A non-profit created by two book-loving moms, this yearly online event occurs the last Friday of every January and consists of the sharing of hundreds of book reviews of multicultural children’s books. These reviews, with accompanying activities, are cataloged and displayed on MCBD’s website as an ongoing resource. MCBD also offers multicultural book/reading resources, links, and booklist ideas on their free Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents page. MCBD’s official hashtag is #ReadYourWorld. Parents can also download their three free Classroom Kits dedicated to topics of KindnessEmpathy, and Poverty in the USA. Teachers can sign up here to receive a free diverse book for their classroom bookshelf.

AND, Make A Way Media is a Super-Platinum Sponsor for this 1/31/20 celebration for the second year!

We Need Diverse Books: We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

It Pays To Read: It Pays To Read helps children in the Louisville community and across the world. Every day care-givers and service providers go to children’s homes, here in Louisville, who have no books. For those that do, rarely do they have books with powerful messages and characters who look like them. There are many many articles and facts about the tremendous need for this and why this matters. Simply put, reading changes lives. Our children of all colors and backgrounds need to read and see stories with characters of all colors and backgrounds.

San Bernardino Fatherhood: The objective of San Bernardino Father’s initiative is to partner with barbershops to encourage children to read and (most importantly) fathers/male caregivers to read to and with their children while waiting in barbershops. Their ultimate goal is “to eliminate fatherlessness in San Bernardino by promoting a culture of father inclusion and responsible fatherhood in our communities. This mission will be accomplished in collaboration with local schools, community partners, faith-based organizations and public and private agencies.”

These programs are all beyond wonderful, but I wanted to bring something powerful and effective a little closer to home. So I did. The Louisville Book Festival aims to bring books to life for the citizens of Louisville.

Bringing Books to Life for the Citizens of Louisville

Despite this critical need, as of the latest available measurements, Kentucky ranked:

  • The 22nd highest state in adults lacking basic prose literacy skills (12.2%)
  • The 15th lowest state for the number of public libraries

The Louisville Book Festival project is being undertaken by a diverse group of professionals who are passionate about growing the creative culture of our city. This Festival will be an opportunity for readers of all ages and backgrounds to discover new stories and revisit old favorites. Authors and publishers will get the chance to connect with their readers on a personal level and find out what the public would like to see published. Community partners will be able to help books come to life with hands-on activities like science experiments, cooking demonstrations, crafts, and more.

We will strive to reach as many citizens and students in Louisville as possible, book worms and reading resistors alike! The hope is to create a more positive city by inspiring all people to create, learn, and encourage others.

Though great strides have been made to correct the deficiency of getting picture books and chapter books into the hands of under-served readers, we all agree there still is a long way to go. As violence and substance abuse rip apart communities and fracture families, the focus of healing can never waiver from addressing literacy. Not just a child’s ability to read and comprehend material, but their love for and desire to read. Reading is the way out. Reading educates, and fosters dreams that are not even able to be dreamed of, until a child sees just how vast their possibilities are. Those possibilities are found in books. 

I often say children who cannot read cannot read people. This evolved from decades of working with children and serving families. Children who cannot read miss so much about everyday communication including sarcasm and innuendo, as well as a deeper ability to process multi-layered information.

Other projects will be inspired and continue to be fueled by the Louisville Book Festival including, It Pays to Read. These programs will go on serving our community by working every day to inspire a life-long love of reading, providing access to books and family literacy programs, and direct contact that has an overwhelmingly positive impact on our community and highlights the vibrancy and the resiliency of our culture.

We need you now to ensure the success of our city’ s first-ever Louisville Book Festival. This will be an exciting time and event for our community as we come together to talk about more than just books, but also what we need from each other as a community. Stay connected with us on our social media accounts under the same name: Louisville Book Festival on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Learn more about these important programs and initiatives, and find out how you can help, on our website located at www.louisvillebookfestival.com.

Louisville Book Festival


About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All ten of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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