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The Songs Inspired By Literature Project

Songs about books have been written for decades by bands ranging from Led Zepplin to The Clash. In 2000, a movement began to put these kinds of songs to use.

In 2000, we launched the Songs Inspired By Literature Project  (SIBL) to raise money for free tutoring programs around the country that serve the 45 million adults who read below a 4th grade level. Songs written about books were donated by Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Roseanne Cash, Suzanne Vega. Also, more than 1000 song submissions came to our attention, written by emerging artists. Over 25,000 benefit CD's have been sold so far, by literacy projects (as fund raising tools for their organizations) and direct through our website. NPR, New York Times, RollingStone, BBC were a few of the media outlets that helped tell our story.


In November 1999, Artists for Literacy's founder, Deborah Pardes, wrote a song inspired by Frank McCourt's memoir, Angela's Ashes. After performing it a few times, she realized that it was doing for the book what a movie trailer does for a film -- enticing people to learn more about the story. From that moment forward, Artists for Literacy has been collecting songs about books to help promote reading. 

Books are scary. Music is Not.

For people with low-level literacy, the look of a book can be daunting. When themes and / or characters from a book are first introduced through a song, teachers have overwhelmingly found that doors of interest are opened. Students discuss the song with ease and, by doing so, begin their critical thinking about the book. Soon, reading the book isn't so bad after all.

What's Next?

Technology has finally caught up to our ideas.

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