In a short time, Youth United’s efforts have made a major impact on the children and community of Santa Fe.
Hooked on Books began in 2011 as a project of students at the Santa Fe School for Arts and Sciences.
From the beginning, there has been a request sheet available near the register and customers are encouraged to ask for whatever products they covet.
The vast majority of these requests have been fulfilled and then – if the product sells, it gets reordered.
Inspired by their teacher, Rayna Dineen, and a trip to India to visit a model literacy program there, the students began organizing monthly reading contests in Santa Fe elementary schools.
Their group, Youth United, evolved into a citywide student committee, and working with local government and businesses, they formed a larger coalition, the New Mexico Alliance for Literacy, which promotes literacy among young people across the Santa Fe area.
By all accounts, there have been both highs and lows.
Peace Jam is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.
The goal of Peace Jam is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities, themselves, and the world.
In Hooked on Books monthly contests, elementary school children are awarded prizes for reading and for creating motivational tools for the campaign such as posters.
The prizes have included bicycles, skateboards and Kindle ebook readers.