Since 1972, People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos has believed and demonstrated that literature belongs to us all, and can benefit us all, including those with low literacy and those who face obstacles to the joys of independent reading.

Our participants transform literature, which is usually seen as reserved for the few, into instruments of their own learning and self-development. In doing so, they demystify social hierarchy and reclaim the basic truth of human equality.

Did you know that more than 30 million adults in the U.S.—that’s nearly 1 in 10!—aren't reading above a third-grade level.

The power of a literary work begins only when an appreciative reader encounters it. Unfortunately, access to literature is linked to rigid social hierarchies, often drawn on the basis of class, race, and educational privilege. People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos has been working to even the playing field for over 45 years. Using oral reading and a unique, humanities-based discussion framework, our program method makes literature accessible for those with limited opportunity, desire, or ability to read independently.

Our mission echoes what the late Cliff Becker, NEA Program Director, valued in public literature programs – “Literature is the most portable of art forms,” he wrote, “Yet the barriers to its enjoyment extend from a lack of delivery systems to the troubling fact that too many lack the capacity to read the novels, poems, and stories that reflect who we are.” The People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos program has been providing that delivery system since 1972.

We reach adults and young adults in diverse social service agencies—including residential treatment facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, adult education programs, libraries, senior centers, and alternative schools—on local, regional, and national levels.

We are only able to do this work with the support of our community. We rely on grants from foundations and government agencies, as well as contributions from individuals, to support our partnerships with community organizations. Thank you to all those who make our programs possible.

You’ve helped us open doors for low-income adults who weren’t read to growing up, many of whom have since told us they are now reading to their own children. You’ve helped us open doors for at-risk youth who didn’t consider themselves to be “readers”, many of whom are now regular library patrons and are collecting the stories we provide to build libraries of their own. You’ve helped us open doors to new immigrants who long to feel safe in a new country, many of whom continue to meet regularly with their new friends well after the programs end. You’ve helped us open doors for seniors who struggle to read the pages in their favorite books, and are once again enjoying classic stories and building new friendships. With your help and the support of our community, we will continue to connect lives to literature—one short story at a time.

To learn more, please visit www.peopleandstories.org