The first thing I do when I arrive at the office each morning is sit down with my notebook to map out a game plan for the day or reference insights, thoughts and ideas to explore. My current notebook holds a list of publications and artwork that helped inspire the new look and feel of our 2015 Reading and Writing Workshop Catalog, and scrawled beneath that list is the question, “Why are we doing this?”

When it comes to product or brand experiences, I believe people want control. People want their experiences to be intuitive and seamless. Most importantly, people want their experiences to have meaning.

For the 2015 Reading and Writing Workshop Catalog, we decided to shift our creative direction to support a photo-driven editorial model. We focused on a central message, “Engaged Reading and Writing,” and we implemented a set of grid theory guidelines for how elements should be positioned in our layouts (a visual meter and rhythm).

Chicago Public School, Barry Elementary, was kind enough to allow us into their classrooms to take photos of Reading and Writing Workshops. We couldn’t have picked a better setting. The level of engagement between the students and teachers as everyone read, discussed, conferred and recorded in their journals made it a very easy and eye-opening photo assignment. I felt like something special was going on at every turn in each classroom, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that the interaction during Reading and Writing Workshop is an incredibly genuine learning experience for teachers and students.

That day, at Barry Elementary, I was able to answer my question “Why are we doing this?” simply by entering a classroom and witnessing the power of engaged reading and writing.

At Booksource, we believe more reading equals better readers. We believe superior readers will bring about a better world. By providing the tools to help teachers get students engaged early on, we hope to see the literacy gap shrink. This is our purpose, our “Why.” Meaning we believe to be good and true and unique.

Designers rarely get to say truer more positive things. We aren’t always allowed transparency in our work. Sometimes a brief wants you to convince a group of customers that they have a choice to make even when they don’t, and you try to convince yourself that the message comes from a genuine place even when it doesn’t. People don’t have as much tolerance for this type of messaging in their lives anymore, and companies that are honest and trying to improve the lives of people will do best. I hope.

The opportunity to take photographs at Barry Elementary and build this catalog with everyone at Booksource has been a bright spot in my career and an opportunity to “unpack” as a Designer. I’m ready to get started on what’s next for us, because I believe it will be something good and true and long-lasting.


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Reading and Writing Workshop