National Book Fund Builds Investment, Innovation, and Success in Adult Literacy 
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on March 01, 2023 in categoryStories from the Field

For over 20 years we’ve given adult literacy programs the opportunity to better meet the needs of their students by providing free instructional materials through the National Book Fund. The grant program started simply to ensure programs with limited budgets had the high-quality materials they needed. It continues because the grants give programs so much more than just books.  


In Caldwell, Texas, the Harrie P. Woodson Memorial Library’s new adult basic education program was stuck. Volunteers had no idea where to start with students or how to assess their current skill levels.   

Then came a grant from the National Book Fund. It was just the investment the program needed to lift off.  

Having actual instructional materials in hand immediately gave the program the credibility it was lacking. Potential students now saw tutors who had structured plans in place to help them succeed.  

Student enrollment started to tick up, and, with the National Book Fund materials, the program was able to meet the growing demand and provide every student and tutor pair with a set of books to study.  

Through a social media post, the program’s success drew the attention of over 7,000 people and inspired people to get involved with the program.  

And it all started with free books. 


When the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to a virtual environment, adult education programs in Tarrant County, Texas, saw attendance drastically decline. Students didn’t have the digital skills to participate remotely, and among those who tried, 700 couldn’t figure out how to use Zoom or complete the online registration. 

The Tarrant Literacy Coalition took a look at the situation and considered how a grant from the National Book Fund could help them solve the problem. With books in hand, the literacy coalition not only created a curriculum to teach students digital skills, but they also built a partnership with the Arlington Public Library to offer the course using the public computers and WiFi.  

“It’s the type of program that could and should be at libraries all across our community,” said Wes Young, Tarrant Literacy Coalition executive director. “At the very least, being able to provide these much-needed digital skills [will] help transition learners into a high school equivalency or career and certificate training program to help people reach their goals faster while eliminating common frustrations caused by technology.” 


Upon receiving National Book Fund materials, the Marion Regional Career Center in Marion, Indiana, inventoried, labeled, and integrated them into its existing library of student books and textbooks to assign to students for use in class and at home.  

Christa Kelly wanted to earn her high school equivalency so she could be promoted at work.  

“I knew that I had to make this a priority in my life to get my diploma and enroll with the adult education program. I went to get my nails done and ended up at ABE classes,” Christa said. “I was going to just do paperwork but got started on testing right away and was encouraged by my results.” 

With enough study materials to work from home, Christa found no excuse not to study. 

She earned her diploma and was promoted from aide to care coordinator at the home care company where she works.  

In total, 46 students earned their high school equivalency diploma or a professional certification, or they made gains on their TABE testing with help from National Book Fund materials. 

National Book Fund 2023 

The National Book Fund is currently accepting applications for the 2023 cycle. Apply for a grant for print materials from New Readers Press, and be part of the investment, innovation, and success in adult literacy.  


Help us provide more programs with support through the National Book Fund. 



Related Posts

Share Your Story

Subscribe to our Blog

Never miss a blog post! Sign up to receive our monthly email blog newsletter.

Sign Up

See the Latest Research

Research - White Paper

Research proves the correlation between obtaining literacy skills and the return on investment related to improving an adult’s life and future.

Learn More