Partner Schools for 2013-14!

We're excited to announce our partner schools for this school year! This time around we're reaching out to even more at-risk children in low-income neighborhoods; 1,950 to be exact.  In order for schools to qualify to receive SitStayRead's free school programming, 90% of its students must be living in poverty with 60%  of third grade students reading below grade level. We serve children who need our help the most, and they deserve the opportunity to have our program.

  • Bond Elementary - Englewood
  • Brunson Elementary - Austin
  • Cameron Elementary - Humbodt Park
  • Faraday Elementary - Garfield Park
  • Gale Academy - Rogers Park
  • Hendricks Academy - Canaryville
  • Hughes Elementary - Lawndale
  • Lowell School - Humboldt Park
  • Manierre Elementary - Old Town
  • Marquette Elementary - Englewood
  • Melody Elementary - Garfield Park
  • National Teacher's Academy - Chinatown
  • Sumner Academy - Lawndale

Want to get involved? You'll be helping  students with their reading and writing skills, and making an impact on a child's life.  Click here to find out how to volunteer!


Our Monthly Reads - August 2013

Have you been able to keep up with our monthly reading? How about your own? Take some suggestions from us if you're stuck in a rut! Here's what the staff has been up to this month!

Kate McIlvain, Director of Program Operations

Become What You Are  by Alan Watts

"Diving deeper into the work of Alan Watts, this month I am reading his collection of essays entitled "Become What You Are."  Many of these essays were previously published serially before being compiled into one book, and they each demonstrate Watts' deftness and expertise with comparative religions.  Some of the essays serve as quick meditations, others take a deep dive into east/west philosophies, and others are parables for everyday use and reflection.  Every time I pick up "Become What You Are," I find something new to chew on.  I give this book 4 paws

paw prints

Liz Burgess, Executive Director

Inferno by Dan Brown

"I have just started reading "Inferno" by Dan Brown.  I'm excited to get into Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon's new quest in search of clues to a world-historical mystery.  I've enjoyed Dan Brown's previous novels, particularly "Angels and Demons," and have no doubt this will not disappoint as a page turner since his books are always filled with history, intrigue, secret codes, and symbols embedded in paintings, books, churches, monuments, and buildings.  How fun is reading a book whose main character travels the globe in search of clues to a mystery of world-altering proportions, deciphering symbols taken from objects of art, and this time from the literature of Dante's famous poem?  Dan Brown's books also have beautiful back drops such as Florence, exciting plots that keep you up to all hours, and provide a wonderful escape from the day to day.  As of Chapter 7, I give it 4 paws."



 Alicia Boemi,Director of External Relations

The Art of Racing in the Rain  by Garth Stein

"I am actually re-reading this book because I love it so much. As a dog owner and lover it is definitely a must read. The story does have tear jerker moments, but in the end it's a really touching and beautiful tale of two good friends. "


rating - 4 paws

Melissa McBride,Volunteer Coordinator

Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me by Patricia Volk

 "This month I'm reading "Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me" by Patricia Volk. It is a memoir in which Volk explores her interpretations of womanhood by juxtaposing the lives of her own mother, an upper-middle-class New Yorker, and Elsa Schiaparelli, a European couture designer whose autobiography transformed Volk at a young age. I just started reading Shocked for an all-female book club, and think it was a great pick for our group. Volk's style of prose is engaging, and I feel like I can relate to her, particularly as she explores the mother-daughter bond between herself and her mother, Audrey, and the indirect maternal influences of Schiaparelli as well. I would give this book 3 paws!"

rating - 3 paws

  Victoria Luisi,External Relations Intern

 The Happiness Project  by Gretchen Rubin

  "My current book genre obsession is memoirs lately, so I picked up this book after a friend suggested it. Since being in your early twenties always brings up the questionable future and the position of happiness in it, I bought this book per her suggestion and I liked it. I found Rubin to be moderately funny, and her goals for her project of happiness attainable. I think I might start applying some of them in my own life! It's not so much a self-help book as it is just a memoir about Rubin's quest for happiness, and I found it a good read for a minute or two. I give it three paws!

rating - 3 paws

Run for Reading - Our Chicago Marathon Team!

Come join Team SitStayRead at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this October and run for reading! Help support your favorite literacy organization by choosing us as your charity on! You can still help support your favorite runner and us by making an account on Crowdrise and either joining our running team or donating to the runner of your choice! To make an account and join our team, follow and download these instructions!

See you at the Marathon!

Our Monthly Reads - July 2013

What have you been reading this month?

Here are our July reads, with a new addition - a paws rating!

What would you rate our reads, if you've read them? What would you suggest to us for next month? Let us know with a comment!

  Kate Mcilvain, Director of Program Operations

  The Wisdom of Insecurity  by Alan Watts

"As a yoga teacher and student living here in Chicago, I am always looking for ways to incorporate eastern philosophy into my teaching for the western student. British lecturer and writer Alan Watts is best known for interpreting eastern philosophy for the western audience, travelling the world on the lecture circuit, writing books and essays, and hosting the Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life television series, and his writings always inspire my yoga classes and practice.  In The Wisdom of Insecurity, Watts explores the ways in which humans come to terms with the unknown and search for spiritual and intellectual clarity in uncertain times.  The Wisdom of Insecurity dives into this seemingly heady topic with a conversational ease that is accessible for even the casual student of eastern philosophy."

  Liz Burgess, Executive Director

  The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

"This was a good story and a quick, easy summer read.  It was, however, somewhat predictable. I didn't figure out "who dunnit" until the end so I was engaged and interested until the end.  I'm looking forward to reading the next Läckberg novel and see how she evolves as an author.  She has some stiff competition from her Scandinavian peers such as Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson.!"

Alicia Boemi,Director of External Relations

Work Motivation in Organizational Behavior  by Craig Pinder

"I am reading this book as part of my Psychology of Motivation class for graduate school and have so far found it very interesting. This book gives a critical analysis on the many theories that lay the foundation for human behavior and motivation in the workplace.  Pinder gives a very in depth look into what satisfies and dissatisfies us at work - what motivates us - and why negativity can ensue in the workplace. He also gives examples of how to change negative work environments and how managers can play an important role in changing the organization and its employees from an unsatisfactory work environment into one where achievement and positive impacts are part of every role in the organization."

  Melissa McBride,Volunteer Coordinator

  Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's   by John Elder Robinson

"I worked very closely with a boy who had Asperger's while I was a Special Education Aide in a Chicago high school. I was very interested in reading Robinson's retrospective account of growing up with the disorder before it was something that people could be diagnosed with. So far, the book is really interesting and I have been endeared to Robinson as he details his experiences with family and friends, and how he tries to fit in."

  Victoria Luisi,External Relations Intern

  Little Bee   by Chris Cleave

"I picked up this book at the thrift store a while ago, because I'm a cover-judger, and I'm in love with it. I sat at the beach for hours reading it, not being able to put it down - and I have the sunburn to prove it! I think the quote on the back cover sums it up nicely, "Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds." Cleave's way of storytelling is beautiful, and the way you are immersed in the two characters' lives through their thoughts of their present and past, and their introspective narratives, is poetic. I recommend this book for everyone - just remember to appropriately apply sunscreen every thirty minutes as you read it in the sand."

Volunteer Tails - Meet Bradley!

Meet Bradley Blankenship, one of our awesome SitStayRead volunteers that keeps our tail wagging!

How long have you been volunteering with SitStayRead?    1 year.

Why did you decide to volunteer with SitStayRead?  I love dogs and I love reading! SitStayRead is addressing an important need in our community and I wanted to be a part of the solution.

Do you have any pets?  I have a Redbone Coonhound mix-breed named Cosí Fan Tutti. Cosí loves volunteering with SitStayRead.

Favorite book as a child?  Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

Favorite book now?  It changes weekly. This week it’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. The book just won the America’s Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature!

Random interesting fact about yourself:  I used to volunteer with a youth cycling organization taking adolescent riders on cross-country bicycle trips.

Favorite volunteer memory:  Listening to a student at Sumner Elementary read his story about his pet Zombie dog during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Favorite restaurant in Chicago: La Patisserie P, Vietnamese/French bakery at 1050-52 W. Argyle St. They have the best croissants and coconut buns in the city! Best way to spend a Chicago summer’s day:  Biking along the lakeshore with Cosi Fan Tutti.

Our Monthly Reads - June

Hello everyone! To kick off our summer, we decided to share with you some of our current June reads from all of us at the office! If you need suggestions for some future beach reads on those sunny days off, here's what we're diving into!

Has anyone read any of these? Have any suggestions for us? Let us know with a comment!

Bone in the Throat

Bone in the Throat

Kate Mcilvain, Director of Program Relations

Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain

  "[Bourdain] is a fantastic travel/food writer - and who doesn't love his show No Reservations?  When it came time to find something new to read, I thought that a foray into fiction writing by Anthony Bourdain would prove a good choice, and it has!  All the fun, honesty, and sarcasm you love from Bourdain on No Reservations abounds in this gangster-kitchen-murder-mystery-romp-campy-drama."

Princess Elizabeth's Spy

Princess Elizabeth's Spy

  Liz Burgess, Executive Director

  Princess Elizabeth'sSpy  by Susan Elia Macneal

  "This book is the second in a new series featuring Maggie Hope, who is a terrific character in this World War II historical fiction mystery.  I really liked the main character Maggie; her brains, determination and good intentions coexist with human emotions and flaws in judgment.  So she's no superhero, allowing for great twists and turns in the story.  I highly recommend this series and they make for great summer reading!"

Oscar Wao

Oscar Wao

  Alicia Boemi,Director of External Relations

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao  by Junot Diaz

  "I am about halfway through the book and so far it has been an intriguing story that keeps you turning the page. The main characters are very heartfelt and your ability to feel for them is why I think I like this book so much. I would recommend it to others so far and am looking forward to finishing it!"

The Torch of Decency

The Torch of Decency

Melissa McBride,Volunteer Coordinator

The Torch of Decency   by Jahmal Cole

  "It is a non-fiction work about the history and modern-day state of Chatam, IL. As a Chicago native I'm always interested in local issues. Specifically, I like that Cole makes some connections and suggestions about the way we think about our involvement with local government. He had the table next to us at the Printer's Row Lit Fest, too!"

When You Are Engulfed In Flames

When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Victoria Luisi,External Relations Intern

When You Are Engulfed in Flames   by David Sedaris

  "David Sedaris never disappoints with his witty and sarcastic storytelling, and this book is no exception! Great short stories about snippets of his life, told through a very sarcastically funny lens. If you want a good laugh and need a quick read for the plane or for the beach, I highly suggest picking this one up from the library!"

Visit us at Summer Festivals!


Summer in Chicago is finally here, and SitStayRead has plans to join the fun around town at some of the city's most popular street festivals! SitStayRead will occupy an exhibitor booth space at several festivals, where our dedicated and outgoing volunteers will interact with festival-goers as a means of sharing information about SitStayRead's mission and programs. This is a great opportunity to recruit new volunteers, donors, and general supporters! We have some stylish new t-shirts and buttons that showcase the updated SitStayRead logo, which will be available for purchase by the general public. Even some of our superstar four-legged volunteers will be working the crowd at the fests, so make sure to say hello when you see them on the street!

We are also hoping to have SitStayRead volunteers staff the beer/beverage tents at a few festivals - specific dates are yet to be determined. SitStayRead would receive a portion of the tips that our volunteer bartenders earn during their shift to support our programs. This is a terrifically fun opportunity for those of you who wouldn't mind spending the day outdoors with a few friends! Training is minimal and is provided on-site on event day.
To kick things off, we will appear at the Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend, June 8th and 9th. We will also exhibit at the Taste of Lincoln on July 27th and 28th, and Northalsted Market Days on August 10th and 11th.
Hope to see you there!
We are still looking for volunteers for all the fests! If you are interested in representing SitStayRead at these events, please contact Melissa at