About Unite for Literacy

Our Vision: Picture Book Abundance

We picture a world where all children have access to an abundance of books that celebrate their languages and cultures and cultivate a life-long love of reading. As a for-profit social enterprise, we partner with businesses to change the literacy landscape of their communities by introducing families to our free digital library.

Unite for Literacy has originated a unique way of assessing and talking about book scarcity. We analyzed statistical variables including income, ethnicity, geography and languages as they relate to the number of books in homes. The resulting interactive Book Desert Map presents our conceptual findings in visual form from the state down to local scale. Our intention is for this map to illuminate the problem of book scarcity and initiate conversations across the public, private and civic sectors about the geography of books and reading, in order to focus community efforts to create book abundance.

View the Book Desert Map

Our Advice: Read, Talk, Relax

Read together every day.

When you share books with your children, they learn that reading is an important and rewarding way to spend their time. Once young children learn to love reading, it will be easy later on for them to learn how to read.

  • Reading together even for a short time is ok.
  • Set aside a specific time so that both you and your child have a routine.
  • Take books along with you to appointments or on car rides.
Talk about what you read.

Young children need lots of practice in talking and listening so that they can become good readers. Talk with your child throughout the day, using mostly words they can understand.

  • Read signs, recipes, magazines etc.
  • Talk about words that are unfamiliar and explain the meaning.
  • Have your child re-tell the story you’ve just read in their own words.
  • Ask about favorite pictures or characters and talk about the story.
Relax and have fun.

Remember that sometimes reading time is just a good excuse for children to snuggle close with you. Relax and enjoy your time together!

  • Make reading time fun by playing with the words and pictures.
  • Read in silly voices or make up new names for the characters in the book.
  • It’s okay to skip pages or just talk about the pictures.
  • Don’t worry about always getting to the end of the book.

Our Solution: Relevant Picture Books

Engaging books encourage readers.

Our original, non-fiction picture books support beginning readers of all ages. Features include predictable, rhythmic language; images with clear, familiar subjects; and text that ranges from one word up to a few sentences per page.

Diverse images inspire every child.

Children everywhere can "see" themselves and imagine their full potential through the images in our books. Pictures that reflect a child’s eye view of the real world, in all its rich complexity, encourage rich conversation and a personal connection with books.

Audio gives voice to home languages.

Our books provide unique audio support to families who speak (or are learning to speak) English, indigenous or foreign languages. Simple audio buttons on each page allow you to hear narrations by native speakers in warm, expressive voices.

Our Partners

Many nonprofit, charitable, and cultural institutions mission is to engage families in their community to communicate important messages that inspire action to support their cause.

We partner with these organizations to provide support, services and platforms to publish their content in the form of children’s books to communicate their message in a new way.

To ensure cultural relevancy, we offer language narration services to the institutions to help them meaningfully engage their communities.

Our goal is to continuously partner with our nonprofit partners to identify grants and corporate or private sponsorships to fund the distribution of the physical books to schools, zoo program attendees, and childcare centers in the community.

View some examples

Our Team

Michael McGuffee - CEO

Mike has consulted with Native American tribes and large-scale international groups to make engaging, low-cost books available in every home, and to educate families on the importance of reading. Mike deeply believes that all children have a right to experience the joy of reading, and that technology holds the key to book abundance for everyone.

Kurt Hoeven - Chairman

Kurt has been involved in the acquisition and management of numerous companies in a variety of industries and has played an active role in the formation and management of many start-up companies. Kurt is passionate about working with business leaders, assisting them in building their companies, and advising them to successfully navigate all phases of the business cycle.

Mark W. F. Condon, PhD – VP

Mark has focused at the college level on language arts teacher education preparation, global literacy development, and national and international partnerships promoting reading and learning. Mark’s goal is to support parents and young children to enjoy and share books together, creating the foundation for kids to become avid, lifelong readers and learners.

Holly Hartman - Director of Publishing

Holly has written numerous picture books for young children. She has supported children and families as a preschool director and teacher, as well as preparing Early Childhood educators. Holly’s passion lies with connecting children and their grownups to wonder, creativity and literacy through hands-on explorations and playful interactions.

James Shelton - Director of Strategy

James has been involved in many facets of small and large companies spanning sales, marketing, business intelligence, strategic planning and management. His experience has been focused on managing and leading innovative, potential high-growth companies. James is passionate about finding solutions to the current roadblocks on the path to building better businesses.

Philip Hicks - Director of Business Development

Phil has worked with a range of businesses, from those seeking their first investment, to large companies with revenue in the billions - to develop industry leading strategies, partnerships and sales channels. He is dedicated to customer satisfaction and immerses himself in learning everything he can about his customers in order to empathize with them and understand their needs.