A Chicago literacy nonprofit is celebrating expanding its reach with a new bookstore in Logan Square. The office took more than a year to open.
“It’s really a great way to be transported to a new world,” said Logan Square resident Finn Holtz of the bookstore at 2068 N. Milwaukee Ave. “It’s nice to step back and explore.”
Open Books’ mission is to facilitate access to what the nonprofit describes as the building blocks of life success.
“Reading is essential,” said Open Books executive director Eric Johnson. “It’s a saying that has been around for years, I don’t think there’s much more to say. … The simplest idea: being able to access various spaces, career opportunities, figure out how to fill out a student aid form for college, think of all the little places where reading and literacy show up. This is a huge focal point for us and why we emphasize the need to read at all times.
Logan Square is Open Books’ third location in Chicago. The nonprofit set its sights on the area after learning that many of its existing buyers commuted from the Northwest Side.
“I’ve always been a fan of the West Loop location and wanted one that was closer to me,” Holtz said. “…It’s my favorite bookstore in Chicago. It’s the only place I get my books.’
Open Books said its donation model allows the organization to offer reading at more affordable rates than larger bookstores. Despite the growing popularity of e-readers and tablets, Open Books said the intended target audience is still showing up.
“We want people to read like they’re reading: old-fashioned magazines, their tablet, the recipe they’re reading when they’re cooking with their kids,” Johnson said. “Wherever people find things to read, we want to encourage these habits, especially at home for children so they learn to read and read at an early age.”
“Having something more tangible, there’s something about it that helps me connect more to it and hold onto it, rather than looking at a screen,” said Logan Square resident Juan Pablo. “It’s more nostalgic. As a child I thought it was a punishment, but now it helps me.”
Open Book also has Pilsen and West Loop locations. For more information and to donate, visit open-books.org.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of DuPage Foundation Art Correspondent.