Tag Archives: 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.

A Full Circle

R. Timothy Rush

A Gemma Open Door book

An Arapaho history … an American tragedy

“I recommend A Full Circle.  Dr. Rush (Niieihii Nenookeit) captures the spirit, customs, and values of my people in a story straight from our history.”

Burnett Lee Whiteplume, Senior (Nowoo3)
   Northern Arapaho
   Arapahoe, Wyoming
In 1878, two years after the Greasy Grass Fight that some called Custer’s Last Stand, U.S. soldiers and government contractors rounded up 270 Arapaho people. From the very young to the very old, they were forced to walk from Fort Robinson in western Nebraska across half of what is now the state of Wyoming. Their destination: the Shoshone Indian Reservation. The new home of the Northern Arapaho was a wilderness, but it was theirs and they were glad. Then came a second and tragic event.

Within weeks, the Takers arrived to capture confused and terrified Indian children. The young were shipped to boarding schools back east where they were to be stripped of their tribal identities and assimilated into white culture. Families were torn apart.

Against this historical backdrop, A Full Circle gives a fictional account of several generations of Arapaho and their experience during this time. Horse-whisperers, a green-eyed girl, brave young men and women, and fierce grandmothers are among the characters that reveal glimpses of a people and a culture that survive today, and a part of American and native history that has long been hidden. A Full Circle is a story that needs to be told.
Professor Tim Rush, author of American Lion (2015,) teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy education, humanities education and linguistics at the University of Wyoming. Working closely with the tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation, he has helped develop UW programs for certifying teachers of American Indian children. He was awarded the University of Wyoming Outreach School’s Holon Family Award and was recognized by the International Reading Association with its Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award. Grandfather of a girl’s volleyball champion and two young men serving in the US Air Force, Tim Rush lives on the high plains west of Laramie, Wyoming with Alice, his wife of more than 50 years, and an array of horses, dogs, cats, and regular guests from the wild kingdom.
A Full Circle
R. Timothy Rush
Paper, 100 pages
Reading level: 4.5

Training Days

May-Lee Chai

A Gemma Open Door book


When you are eleven years old, is there anything more humiliating, or bound to cause a fight, than shopping with your mother when your body is in full-throttle warp? Yes, there is: picking out the school-required underwear. And worse: your mother’s male co-worker shows up at the scene. And even worse: your brother wants to TALK about it at the dinner table.

Rites of passage are difficult for any young girl, and Jun-li Lin is no exception. The grown-ups in her life are completely unpredictable and probably out of control. She knows it will take detective work to figure out her family’s secrets and the reasons for their erratic actions. It’s up to her to find a way to bring the family together before everyone drifts apart.

Training to be an adult, Jun-li discovers, is hard work.

“I re-discovered a bit of myself in Jun-li, and in May-lee Chai’s beautifully constructed and perfectly contained world. Jun-li’s struggles are nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s the deftly and subtly rendered intricacies that mark this story, link it to the experience of Asians in America, and linger in the imagination.”
 — Julie Shigekuni, author of A Bridge Between Us, In Plain View, and Invisible Gardens

May-lee Chai is the author of eight books, including the memoir Hapa Girl, a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book; the novel Dragon Chica; and the novel Tiger Girl, which won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Most recently, Chai received the 2017 Doris Bakwin Award for writing by women, presented by Carolina Wren Press of Durham. She teaches creative writing and literary translation at San Francisco State University.


Training Days
May-lee Chai
Paper, 100 pages
Reading level: 740L



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.

Find Your Level

Gemma Open Door titles are designed to fit the needs of specific reading levels. Find the right level for your audience in this complete list of titles and reading level information:

Open Door Titles and Reading Levels

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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