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Beautiful: John Wood’s Incredible Mission to Create Room to Read for Millions of Kids Around the Globe

9780670025985_p0_v1_s260x420Ten years go, John Wood embarked on a courageous journey. He left his job at Microsoft for one simple reason: so that “children everywhere have access to literacy and books in their mother tongue from a young age.” Sound audacious to you? It did to Charlie Rose as well. “Every child,” Charlie repeated in an interview with John. “Every one, without exception,” John said.

It is that kind of resolve, focus, and elegant vision that I find so exhilarating and inspiring. As a nonprofit founder, fundraiser, and a consultant who works with a number of nonprofits, I also know how hard it is to identify and maintain. John will not be deterred. It is his commitment to the children of this world that has allowed Room to Read, his nonprofit, to open 10,000 libraries around the world in 10 years. 10,000. It is astonishing.

In 2007, John wrote the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children. Today, his new book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, goes on sale. It has valuable information for everyone who has ever cared about a cause or mission, for-profit, non-profit, or otherwise. It’s a story about the value of a dream and the determination to make it real. John talks about his all-star team, their site evaluation process, and what it truly means to work side-by-side with people you want to help in pursuit of a common goal. In equal parts, he gets down into the details about his fundraising and management philosophies and then shares his powerful emotions such as his misty-eyed moment when the 10,000th library opened in Nepal with his parents by his side.

John’s story is inspiring for all of the goodness he conveys though he is not shy about the hardships he, his staff, and the communities face. Global literacy is a battle in every sense. Moving into Africa was a particularly harrowing decision and an even more harrowing process. His team literally risked their lives to make it happen. In countries like Cambodia, 43% of grade-three students in his country could not read at an age-appropriate level. Statistics like this led Room to Read’s mission and activities to evolve. It wasn’t enough to build libraries and furnish them with books. First, they had to teach people to read. Without literacy programs, the libraries would be of zero value to half the population.

Once I cracked open this book, I couldn’t put it down. Nose pressed against the pages, I would look up and realize that hours had gone by. After a while, I stopped using my highlighter because I was highlighting every sentence. John Wood and Room to Read are paving the way toward a brighter future. Thank goodness he left Microsoft to change the world. With this book, I’m certain he will inspire many people to take up a cause that matters and make it their life’s work. And we will all be better off for it.

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Beautiful: John Wood’s Incredible Mission to Create Room to Read for Millions of Kids Around the Globe

  1. My husband’s company, Exponent Partners, has worked with Room to Read. They are a fabulous organization. It’s good to hear that John’s book is a “good read.” Thanks for the review!

    Like

    Posted by Jilanne Hoffmann | February 11, 2013, 3:15 am
  2. This sounds like an awesome book – I’ve just reserved a copy at the library!
    I used to work for a charity that made foreign language recordings of stories for refugee kids, so they could participate in the classroom even if they couldn’t read. The looks on their faces when they heard their own language were amazing!

    Like

    Posted by Kate | February 11, 2013, 3:38 am

I'd love to know what you think of this post! Please leave a reply and I'll get back to you in a jiffy! ~ CRA

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