The Lit Ladder —

A central Illinois literacy project

The Lit Ladder believes that every child deserves easy, equal access to age-appropriate books. Studies show that increasing access to books increases the amount of reading kids do, and increased reading leads to improved achievement in literacy rates.

Check out our website!

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion —

We live in a very diverse world and it’s important that our kids see a reflection of themselves in the books they read.

A deep connection to a story or a character can motive a child to read more often. The Lit Ladder is dedicated to making sure we don't just donate and give kids access to any book, but rather provide a collection of diverse, equitable, and inclusive books that reflect who they are.

We Are Water Protectors

“We Are Water Protectors” tells the story of an Ojibwe girl who fights against an oil pipeline in an effort to protect the water supply of her people.

I Sang You Down from the Stars

This unique baby book sings with Native cultural detail, while striking a universal chord in its celebration of the blossoming of love that comes with expecting and welcoming a new baby--with art by New York Times bestselling illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade.

The Proudest Blue

A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school--and two sisters on one's first day of hijab--by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Say Something!

An empowering story about finding your voice, and using it to make the world a better place.The world needs your voice. If you have a brilliant idea... say something!

Change Sings

As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.

Been Here All Along

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, leading the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do not include falling head over heels for his best friend and next-door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do...

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.

The Magic in Your Changing Stars

Can you change your fate—and the fate of those you love—if you return to the past? Journey to 1939 Harlem in this time-travel adventure with an inspiring message about believing in yourself.

Roll with It

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

Black Brother, Black Brother

A powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers - one who presents as white, the other as Black - and the ways they are forced to navigate a world that doesn't treat them equally.

Say Her Name

Inspired by the #SayHerName campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum, these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists insisting that Black Lives Matter.

Stick

Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he's tall and thin) is bullied for being "deformed" - he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can't defend one another from their abusive parents.

When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love - and his brother.

Tigers, Not Daughters

Tigers, Not Daughters is about four sisters, with one of them dying by falling out of a window. The dead sister haunts the remaining sisters in the house they live in. The novel is written by Samantha Mabry.

Love is a Revolution

Love Is a Revolution is a 2021 young adult novel by Renée Watson. The first-person narrative tells the story of Nala, a young, black, and plus-sized girl, exploring love through a romantic relationship while learning to love herself.

Absolute Brightness

Phoebe’s life in Neptune, New Jersey, is somewhat unremarkable. She helps her mom out with her hair salon, she goes to school, and she envies her perfect older sister. But everything changes when Leonard arrives.

Leonard is an orphan, a cousin who Phoebe never knew she had. When he comes to live with Phoebe’s family, he upsets the delicate balance of their lives. He’s gay and confident about who he is. He inspires the people around him. He sees people not as they are, but as they hope to be.

One day, Leonard goes missing. Phoebe, her family, and her community fight to understand what happened, and to make sense of why someone might want to extinguish the beautiful absolute brightness that was Leonard Pelkey.

OH HEY, FOR BEST VIEWING, YOU'LL NEED TO TURN YOUR PHONE