Open Door Program

The Gift of Reading

The Open Door  program is dedicated to giving the children at Children’s Village the opportunity to read, not only as a necessary tool, but as a refuge. They have had little, if any, access to books, and many have suffered neglect, abuse, and deprivation. Exposure to books and to a culture of literacy is critical for these children.

In 2007, Open Door (formerly called Books for Boys) received James Patterson’s Page Turner Award for being “a unique and innovative program that utilizes a staff of teachers, librarians, and volunteers to read and share books with at-risk youth ages 6–21. Kids are being exposed to poetry, reading programs and writing tutors, but most of all each child is encouraged to learn and to have fun while reading!”

Read an article on Books for Boys and its partner program, FLY: “How Books Transformed the Culture at Children’s Village.”

Open Door volunteers run a library program in the elementary, middle, and high schools; visit the boys’ cottages to bring books and read; and help with our beautiful new Open Door Library after school.

Our partner program in the school, FLY (Foundations for Literate Youth), is an intensive reading-intervention program closely tailored to the individual child in which adult volunteers work one-on-one with students and provide appropriate books for a given child’s reading level.

Volunteer tutors work with non-reading teenagers and those reading far below grade level during and after school.

Open Door has also sponsored readings, poetry and writing workshops, trips to poetry slams and book fairs, and other literacy programming. The Visiting Author series has brought writers such as Walter Dean Myers, Felicia Pride, James Patterson, and Nikki Grimes to Children’s Village, as well as a storyteller and a cartoonist.

We know reading has the power to transport and comfort children. With the indispensable help of volunteers, our program tries to engage all of the boys on campus, even the most discouraged readers, by giving them access to books and a caring network of adults and reading mentors.

Pam Allyn, a literacy expert who has worked with both the Children’s Village and its campus school Greenburgh Eleven for many years, founded the Open Door program. To read more about her work, see Book Balm.

To get involved or to donate books, please contact Leydi Rodriguez, Director of Community Engagement, at 914-693-0600 x 4992 or send an email.


Poems by Teens

By Warson S.

You’re on your own
On the football field,
I’m at the fifty yard line.
Home end- zone is Positive
Away end- zone is Negative.
Offensive line is filled by my family,
Defensive line is filled by peer pressure,
The stadium is filled by judges, court systems, social workers,
And the sky box is filled by the law.

Everyone is waiting for the first play.
First play my mother hands it off to me,
And I run through the middle.
My mother is sacked and she is injured,
Medical says she’s out of the game.
Now I want to forfeit the game.
My teammates tell me to stay in
So that’s what I do.
A substitution for my mother is my aunt
But she can’t throw the ball as far as my mother,
So now I have to use the next best player to my advantage.
So I follow my father as I run to the thirty yard line,
Third play my aunt throws an interception,
And I stop the opposing team at the fifty.
Next play the opposing team fumbles the ball,
Now we are back at the fifty yard line.
My father says he want to quit
But his love for the game won’t let him,
So he blocks off the aggressive player,
And opens up a path for me to catch a touchdown.
But I went the other way and got tackled.
My father then starts to think that he is working harder than I am,
So he substitutes out of the game.
I thought to myself the game is on my shoulders now,
Or maybe it was since the first play…


By Keenan R.

My Positive Me…
Power with knowledge
Talent and associated beauty
Feeling and love.

But sometimes moody
Unique in such a way
You can’t make a clone
Imaginative and thoughtful
I stay in a zone.

My Weakness…
Life is sometimes a drag
Impatience and frustration
Is what makes me mad.

My Belief…
Love conquers evil
Is what I believe
Using positive over weakness
Then success could be achieved.

By Juan M.

My name is Juan and I have red hair.
I have no family but I pretend that they are there.
I’ve been in a lot, it seems so rare.
I was just eleven years old,
I was still a baby with no mommy.
I just like to talk about my life,
Don’t feel sorry.
Seeing my Mom’s face in the casket is very scary.
But she is in a better place.
I’m handling this situation very strongly,
I have problems even though I’m lonely.
I don’t remember my Mom’s face,
Only her favorite food is broccoli.
When I was little I thought it was nasty.
I’m saying this out of courtesy,
Having no family is not funny.
I remember when my Mom hugged me,
And said do good for me honey.
Now I look back with a smile.
All I can do is pray.
I know my Moms is here in some way.
Don’t think I’m a liar,
It’s just the power of prayer.

Change a child's life.