How Literacy Has Shaped Us

The ability to read is one of the most empowering feelings. For many, literacy is a given, something afforded to us in grade school, along with a plethora of books to choose from. However, education and books are an inaccessible luxury for far too many children and adults around the world. As a site dedicated to a love of reading, we find spreading literacy incredibly important, which is why we partnered with Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that supports literacy and education around the world, especially for girls. Their vision, aligns exactly with ours: “A world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities and the world.”  

As a company filled with women, we decided to share what literacy means to us and why we find Room to Read to be such an important organization.   

Mahogany, Editorial and Social Media Assistant

My mom introduced me to reading. She was my teacher in Kindergarten and 1st grade, so I learned everything from her at an early age. From then on, I have been addicted to literature. From staying up late to read when I was younger to waiting in line at midnight to buy the new Harry Potter books, I haven’t stopped loving books. I realized that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything with my life if I wasn’t working with literature in some way.

I chose to go to school for English and Creative Writing and have been fortunate enough to work with Bookstr, where talking and writing about books is our thing! It’s essential that literacy is encouraged throughout the world. To know that there are people in this world who still cannot read is devastating. Organizations like Room to Read encourage literacy and make it possible for people, especially women, to get the education that everyone should be afforded, no matter their location. 

Jamie Gottlieb, Assistant to the CEO

The more I examine my path to Bookstr the more I realize I’ve always had a need to help people tell their stories. Growing up, I had an uncanny ability to remember everything people told me, regurgitating their stories back nearly word for word. I majored in Latin American Studies because after my first course in the subject I realized that nobody ever talks about the region. I spent a year working for a theatre, helping artists get audiences to hear what they had to say. Throughout all of this I’ve always had a book by my side. Bookstr is a platform literally dedicated to helping people find  and share stories. That we donate 50% of our proceeds to Room to Read is the cherry on top, helping girls in developing countries realize that their stories and education matter.

Gabrielle Simonson, Editorial Intern

When my mother realized that she wouldn’t have the money to send me to pre-school with the rest of the kids in our neighborhood, she decided to take initiative and teach me how to read. By age three I was reading fluently, and my mom was more than happy to push me up to the library in the baby stroller multiple times a week. I think I was able to read through most of the children’s section, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of the librarians who kindly pulled books off of the high shelves that I couldn’t reach.

Over the years, books have proven to be more than an adventure or a companion, though both of those things are equally as important. For me, books have been a source of incredible enlightenment; opening up worlds I wouldn’t have otherwise known. Organizations like Room to Read are crucial because they enforce the idea that everyone has the right to an education regardless of their background. Everyone should have access to books that can change their lives, just as they have for me. Room to Read is giving young women what my mom was able to give to me: a love of the written word, and the full potential to blossom into the young woman I am. am today.

Epiphany Espinosa, Sale Marketing Manager

I got into reading at a very young age. My godfather worked for a book binding company, so he would always bring me books to read. I will never forget when he bought my first Harry Potter book; at that exact moment, I knew that I would have a lifelong affair with books. I would constantly get in trouble for reading in places that I shouldn’t. Teachers would scold me for reading during class. My mother would discipline me for reading in church. My father would pull the glasses off my face after spending all night reading past my bedtime. Literature became a part of me. I lived and breathed books and I still do. 

Since my passion for books only blossomed as I grew older, I naturally studied English Literature in college. I knew that I wanted to work in publishing, but was unsure in what capacity. After much job searching after college, I eventually ended up in digital advertising for a small business publication. I was one step closer to my dream by working in publishing, but the subject manner wasn’t exactly my first choice. When a position opened at Bookstr, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t have asked for a better chance to combine my advertising and marketing experience with my love for books.  

Literacy organizations, especially ones promoting gender equality, are important and necessary. Unfortunately, some of the most progressive countries still struggle with gender inequality. While women are fighting to earn equal wages in America, young girls are fighting for the right to read in developing countries (a skill that we easily take for granted). I couldn’t imagine living in a society where I didn’t have the opportunity to read, for leisure or for school. Room to Read is at the forefront of this fight and is using their platform to spread literacy globally. I am proud of Bookstr’s partnership with Room to Read, helping make the world a better, more equal place for all genders. It is an honor to work for an organization affiliated with such a fantastic, life changing cause. 

Emily Magee, Video Content Producer

I remember trying to read a book in 1st grade and struggling. The sounds didn’t make any sense and I had trouble figuring out what they were trying to say. Plus, the stories were boring, so I never really got into it. All that changed when I came across Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. It was a story that had been read to me many times but the first time I read it by myself was a moment that I still remember clearly. I leaped up, ran downstairs and yelled “GREEN EGGS AND HAM” over and over at my alarmed parents while pointing manically to the book’s cover.

Reading that book, while no great feat, gave me a sense of control that I hadn’t felt before. I was the one in charge of what I wanted to read, and I could read those pages as often or in whatever manner I wanted. Being a young girl in a big intimidating world, to gain that sense of empowerment is invaluable. Room to Read gives girls the gift that I myself hold so closely to my heart: power, autonomy, and the intelligence to decide how we react to the world. It puts the control of learning in our own hands and opens endless doors of opportunity. Reading has been such an intimate part of my growth that it’s hard to imagine my life without words.

It has opened my eyes to lives far beyond the one that I live in, and helped me to become the powerful, independent woman that I am today.

In simpler terms, reading rules! 

Borana Greku, Account & Marketing Manager

I consider books to be outlets for escape from reality and reading as a way to entertain myself, to learn, and to grow as a woman. I started reading at a very young age back in Albania, where I was born, not understanding at the time that it would eventually become so much more than entertainment; it would be a way to easily learn a new language in an entirely different country. When I moved to the United States at just 7 years old, books were not only a huge part of how I learned to communicate, but they also connected me to my new life. Despite where I was and despite the shock of leaving everything I knew, I could still sit down with a book. They were a constant for me, and they still are. They’ve been a part of every aspect of my life, including my career.

I spent almost four years working in book publishing, two of those in children’s book publishing, before I came to Bookstr. Besides Bookstr’s passion for books, its relationship with Room to Read also attracted me. It’s important now more than ever to empower and educate girls, and in order to do that, we need people and organizations like Room to Read to help do so. I’ve learned through personal experience that books and education can help a young girl achieve her goals, no matter where she is. By working at Bookstr and supporting Room to Read, I know I’m helping give girls the same encouragement books gave me. 

Our company is filled with women; for each one of us, literature plays a huge part of our lives. It’s our job, and it empowers us! Organizations like Room to Read mean so much to us and to thousands of children around the globe. With our partnership, 50% of all book profits go to Room to Read. That means each book you buy helps support education and literacy.


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