Reading Revolution: Providing Books & Joy 

Reading Revolution was started by two local women to combat Winston-Salem’s book deserts.

Sometime in the mid-2010s, Unite for Literacy coined the term “book desert.” These are geographical areas where it is difficult to obtain access to books and reading materials. They define it as a majority of homes in a geographical area having fewer than 100 printed books. Most of these book deserts are in low income areas. 

Unite for Literacy even created a US Book Desert Map. If you zoom in on Forsyth County, you’ll notice almost the entire central section of the county is in a below average zone of books. A large section of the eastern side of that section is in a “least likely” zone indicating a severe book desert right here in our city and county. Thankfully, we have two local women who care deeply about fixing this issue.

Nikki Francis, a veteran WSFCS teacher and Amy Lawson, Nikki’s long-time friend, met for coffee one day to discuss this very matter. That was the day that their non-profit, Reading Revolution, was truly born and has been making a difference in the lives of children within our community. 

Bringing Books and Joy to Local Children  

“The driving force behind Reading Revolution is a profound belief in the transformative power of reading and its ability to unlock the potential and curiosity in children,” shares Francis. 

What started as two friends having coffee and sharing a dream to help children in Winston-Salem’s book deserts have access to free books has turned into a thriving non-profit organization. As a teacher, Francis has a passion for literacy and, more importantly, sharing that love for reading with children. Through this passion, she was driven to leave her teaching position and start Reading Revolution. 

After meeting with Lawson in the first part of last year, the two women began asking friends and family for book donations to distribute in Winston-Salem’s book deserts. Francis contacted HOPE of Winston-Salem, a local non-profit committed to making regular distributions of nutritious meals and food to families struggling with food insecurity in the area. She knew the correlation between food deserts and book deserts, so she wanted to follow the HOPE delivery truck on their weekend route to deliver books to children receiving their lunches. In just the first weekend, Reading Revolution delivered more than 100 books to children who had little, if any, access to books. 

Francis and Lawson knew after only a few months and seeing the joy on the faces of the children when they picked out books, that Reading Revolution needed to become an official non-profit. On October 11, 2023, Reading Revolution was officially approved as a 501c3. 

The Future of Reading Revolution

In the near future, the organization will partner with preschools and daycares to provide story time followed by a free book fair. They are already beginning a partnership with the backpack programs at various schools to provide books to the students that they serve. 

Francis shares, “The ultimate goal of Reading Revolution is to have a bookmobile available to drive to neighborhoods and schools to provide a free book store experience to all children in Winston-Salem.”

So Much More Than Just a Book

Both Francis and Lawson share that their absolute favorite part about running Reading Revolution is seeing the joy on childrens’ faces when they get to pick out a book! “It is such an easy concept to get behind, and we are thrilled when we get to share our love of reading with kids in the Winston-Salem community,” they share. 


Interested in volunteering or donating? Get in touch with us! 

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