Category Archives: Light on Literacy

Calling the right kind of author…

Adult learners need more than kids’ books.

People who follow us know that Gemma works hard to provide engaging, smart literature for people who struggle to read, comprehend English, or finish a book. We introduce new and emerging readers to stories from best-selling authors and important new voices that can inspire, make us laugh, and sometimes make us weep. Instead of children’s books, adults and young adults need age-appropriate content that relates to everyday experience.

If you are an author and have the interest and the discipline to write a compelling story of 10,000 words or less at a low reading level (we’re talking about third grade, even lower) we are ALL EYES.

We can help with frequent chapter breaks—for a steady sense of accomplishment—and vocabulary. And we can suggest some topics that our audiences ask for all the time: immigration experiences, healthcare journeys, relationships, aging, incarceration, single-parenting, gang violence, coming of age, sports! We’ll help build the book, the eBook, and the audio where appropriate. We ask you to remember the book that made you first fall for reading and try to replicate that feeling for someone who hasn’t had the chance.

Gemma Open Door is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and our books are supported by generous donors as well as low-cost sales to libraries and literacy groups. So, no, there is little money in this. Rather, there is the incredible satisfaction of helping folks experience what so many of us take for granted: the power of reading and the love of books.

Click here for some guidelines and be in touch!

And thanks for all you do to support reading. As UNESCO affirms and we agree, literacy is a human right.

Dr. Seuss’ birthday! A post from the archives…

hatMarch is the month, it always comes yearly,
When books are the TOPS, well, almost nearly.

It’s a birthday, you see, same’s the one made for me,
Of the author who taught us to love A, B, C.

Dr. Seuss he was called, ‘cause that was his name.
Dr. Seuss is recalled, because of his fame.

With Horton and Who and Lorax and Fox
And Cats in their Hats, and don’t forget Knox,

Yertle the Turtle and, my favorite, Grinch,
Reading was fun, and soon was a cinch!

Bartholomew Cubbins and twelve hats to spare,
Ziggy and Zizzy, the Zozzfozzel pair,

Sneeches, The Zax and a Gack and a Yink
All helped us to read, and maybe to think.

Dr. Seuss had a knack with the simplest truth.
Applies to all creatures, from old age to youth:

“You can find magic wherever you look.
Sit back & relax. All you need is a book.”

Celebrate the Great Seuss!

Literacy, language and literature

Meredith Stephens of Tokushima University shares her experience in using Suzanne Kamata’s A Girls’ Guide to the Islands to teach English as a Foreign Language. In the most recent Journal of Literature in Language Teaching, she reminds us that language goes beyond a simple communication function and holds an aesthetic of its own. A work such as this “provides an entree into language as art.” Stephens goes on to describe the additional power of using texts that are relevant and localized. Her students are in the second year General Education classes learning English in Japan, and they respond to familiar places while acquiring new language skills. Suzanne Kamata is a master of the narrative, and this article underlines the point: there is no better tool to teach than a good story.

Ready to go!

lol-headerI am more than delighted to tell you that Gemma Open Door for Literacy, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping adults and young adults learn to read, has established a distribution relationship with Ingram Publisher Services. IPS will deliver our books and eBooks to bookshops, libraries and on-line stores across the country and well beyond.

Our relationship with Ingram goes back to 2008 when Gemma first opened her doors. With Ingram’s support, we have grown to this point, achieving a dream to create a nonprofit for literacy. Our mission is to expand awareness and deliver resources to folks who struggle to read. As the country’s largest book distributor, Ingram is able to reach retailers and libraries like nobody else. Their print-on-demand services will make sure that we always have books available. And, as Ingram consistently shines lights on literacy projects, Gemma Open Door is delighted to be a partner.

At the heart of the enterprise are the Gemma Open Door books, offering fresh stories for new readers. With wide spacing, short sentences and chapters, and vocabulary-building text, Gemma Open Doors are high-interest, low-reading level stories that appeal to grown-ups. Emerging readers are people who never learned to read well, people for whom English is not their first language, and, increasingly, reluctant readers. Almost nothing exists for adults and young adults who struggle to read beyond children’s books. With respect, Gemma Open Door gives them a place to start. Now, with the power of Ingram, these small books and eBooks can be found just about anywhere.

Read today! And remember how lucky you are..

A Human Right

lol-headerWelcome to our soapbox!

As publishers, it is in our best interest to see that people read. As human beings, it is imperative that people can read. Our books are dedicated to the emerging reader, and we think a lot about that person. In this little corner of ours, we’d like to explore areas of interest in pursuit of greater literacy for all who seek it. We will ask readers, teachers and authors to give us ideas, tips and stories. We’ll uncover efforts people are making in the field, and highlight success where we can find it.


“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning.” UNESCO further defines a literate person as someone “aged 15 years or over who can with understanding both read and write a short, simple statement about everyday life.” Sounds basic, right? But consider the power of words. The ability to read gives people ease in handling everyday tasks: navigating the supermarket, reading a subway schedule, finding pain relief at the pharmacy. Literacy offers men and women broader participation in their communities, from to voting to speaking up about the noise to driving someone home in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Research, and common sense, suggest that being literate dramatically advances one’s economic opportunity by providing access to knowledge in the pursuit of goals. Literacy accelerates social justice and, as a consequence, promotes peace. Written communication is at the core of civilization, and the silence illiteracy engenders robs us of the voices of millions. Words we hear or read cause us to consider and reflect. The ability to read and to write gives us the chance to connect with other human beings, and we discover that our experiences are as like each other as they are different. When I can write, I can tell you what I feel. When I can read, I can understand what you intend. I can ask and answer the most basic of questions:  What will I wear today, now that it is cold? Where do you wait for your bus when it is raining? When do you go to work, and do you have a friend there? What do you think? Why?

Celebrate words yourself. Write something today. Read something today. Do it out loud.

About Gemma Open Doors

An innovative program of original works by some of our most beloved modern writers, originally designed in Ireland to promote adult literacy. These fresh stories showcase new writing from both best-selling authors and emerging voices.

Fidelity Charitable Giving

You are welcome to gift through your account at Fidelity Charitable Giving ... and thanks!

Gemma Open Door for Literacy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. Gifts and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN #81-1384020