Book with Purpose




Join Bookmarks for the 2024 Book with Purpose: Every Person, Every Vote. This summer initiative began in 2021 with the goal of engaging and uniting the Winston-Salem community around the same topic through a summer book read. Book with Purpose has challenged, inspired, entertained, and educated on topics that range from mental health to racism to immigration and now for 2024: voting rights. More information coming soon.

This year's Book with Purpose launches on May 01, 2024 (event registration coming soon) with an author talk focused on a systemic look at poverty through a lens of what one person can do – vote. The summer will be filled with programs for all ages including talks, voter registration drives, and explorations about the history of voting rights through a variety of perspectives and mediums. Throughout the summer, Bookmarks will host a conversation series on various aspects of voting rights. Kids of all ages will be invited to participate in age-appropriate programming including a “Voting Day at the Bookmarks Bookstore”. Bookmarks will host voter registration drives in the Bookmarks Bookstore and other locations across the community from May to October. The Book with Purpose webpage will share a curated list of non-partisan resources, as well as information on this year’s election information and ways to get involved. Contact for more information or to express interest in participating this year.



Thank you to all those who participated in Book with Purpose for 2023. Send us your photos!





The Book with Purpose program is a summer initiative that exists to unite the Winston-Salem community in book discussions for all ages centered around one book or central topic. 

The 2021 focus was antiracism, using the books Stamped from the Beginning, Stamped, Stamped for Kids, and Antiracist Baby. 2022 focused on destigmatizing mental health with the books Self-Care for the Real World, Don’t Call Me Crazy, The Self-Regulation Workbook, and Ruby Finds a Worry.

The tremendous success we’ve had with this program has been due to the collaborative spirit embodied by all participants in our community. We received multiple donations from individuals and businesses that made it possible for us to donate an average of 4,000 books each year to local schools, community groups, libraries, and individual readers. 

We are excited to enter a third year of the program this summer!

We hope you will join us once again for community reading of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, a memoir by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. In the memoir, Vargas talks about how there is "no clear path to American citizenship" for him and an estimated 11 million others who live in the United States as undocumented citizens.  

We will discuss the themes of identity and belonging, the meaning of citizenship, finding home, and what it means to be American in today's world. This book is not about taking a political side. It's about finding home and understanding. Programming will be held throughout the summer at the Bookmarks Bookstore and in partnership with dozens of organizations throughout the Winston-Salem community. The culminating event will be a free keynote event with Jose Antonio Vargas at the 18th anniversary Festival of Books and Authors on Saturday, September 23.

This program is a sponsored project of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County and funded through ARPA supported by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.



We plan to distribute books to the community in various ways. We will work with the school system to get books to students and teachers (before school lets out for the summer) who would like to participate. Partnering organizations will each receive free books from the list with the option to purchase additional copies at a discounted price. 

About Jose Antonio Vargas:

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated producer. A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, he founded the non-profit narrative change organization Define American, named one of the World's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.

In 2020, Fortune named him one of its "40 under 40" most influential people in government and politics. His bestselling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was published by HarperCollins in 2018. His second book, White is Not a Country, will be published by Knopf in 2023.

In 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote.

Jose produced and directed Documented, an autobiographical documentary feature film that aired on CNN and received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Also in 2015, MTV aired White People, an Emmy-nominated television special he produced and directed on what it means to be young and white in a demographically-changing America. In 2019, he co-produced Heidi Schreck's acclaimed Broadway play What the Constitution Means to Me, which was nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Play".

Among accolades he has received are the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA and honorary degrees from Emerson College, Colby College, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Passionate about promoting equity in education for all students, he serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students; and, in 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed him to the Board of Trustees of California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the United States.

A product of the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a proud graduate of San Francisco State University ('04), where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012, and Mountain View High School ('00). An elementary school named after Vargas opened in his hometown of Mountain View, California in August 2019.


Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen 

My name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I was born in the Philippines. When I was twelve, my mother sent me to the United States to live with her parents. While applying for a driver's permit, I found out my papers were fake. More than two decades later, I am still here illegally, with no clear path to American citizenship. To some people, I am the "most famous illegal" in America. In my mind, I am only one of an estimated 11 million human beings whose uncertain fate is under threat in a country I call my home.

This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book--at its core--is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but about the unsettled, unmoored psychological state in which undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can't. This book is about what it means to not have a home.


Dear America: The Story of an Undocumented Citizen (ages 8-12)  

In this young readers’ adaptation of his adult memoir Dear America, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas tells his story, in light of the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Jose Antonio Vargas was only twelve years old when he was brought to the United States from the Philippines to live with his grandparents. He didn’t know it, but he was sent to the U.S. illegally. When he applied for a learner’s permit, he learned the truth, and he spent the next almost twenty years keeping his immigration status a secret. Hiding in plain sight, he was writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country. Only after publicly admitting his undocumented status—risking his career and personal safety—was Vargas able to live his truth. This book asks questions including, How do you define who is an American? How do we decide who gets to be a citizen? What happens to those who enter the U.S. without documentation? By telling his personal story and presenting facts without easy answers, Jose Antonio Vargas sheds light on an issue that couldn’t be more relevant.  


Querida América  

Periodista Jose Antonio Vargas, el ganador del Premio Pulitzer conocido como “el inmigrante indocumentado más famoso de los Estados Unidos,” aborda una de las cuestiones que definen nuestro tiempo en esto libro explosiva y profundamente personal llamada a las armas.

Natural de Filipinas, Vargas fue llevado ilegalmente a los Estados Unidos cuando tenía 12 años. Durante más de dos décadas, vivió oculto de todos, logrando escribir para algunos de las publicaciones más prestigiosas de EE. UU., como The Washington Post y The New Yorker. Pero en 2011, Vargas reveló públicamente su estatus de indocumentado, arriesgando su carrera y seguridad personal. Desde entonces, Vargas ha cuestionado la que significa de ser estadounidense y dedica su vida a dar voz a los inmigrantes y defender sus derechos, no solamente en EE. UU sino también en el mundo entero. Querida América: Notas de un ciudadano indocumentado no es un libro sobre la política de inmigración. Es una defensa íntima y apasionada de ciudadanía y el sentido de pertenencia.

“Después de 25 años viviendo ilegalmente en un país que no me consideró uno de los suyos, este libro es lo más cercano a libertad que tengo.” —Jose Antonio Vargas, Querida América













We are seeking community partners who wish to participate. Being an official partner of Book with Purpose means agreeing to one of the following:

  • Sponsor: Help financially with the production of an event or with book donations
  • Host: Create and host a book talk or community conversation in your location (or somewhere else) by yourself or in partnership with another organization
  • Moderate: Facilitate a conversation that someone else is hosting
  • Volunteer: Be a volunteer at an event
  • Attend: Come to a community event (or several!)
  • Promote: Help spread the word about the program within your organization and throughout the community


A very special thanks to and HarperCollins Publishers for providing free audiobook downloads of the adult and young reader's editions of Dear America. Please click on the links below and follow the instructions for how to download your free copy. 


Click on the covers above to download the audiobook of your choice. You can also follow these links:

Adult edition of Dear America
Young Reader's Edition of Dear America 


1. Create a free account if you do not already have one.

2. Redeem the audiobook by clicking on this link for the adult version and this link for the young reader's edition

3. Listen on the iOS or Android app.

4. Contact if you need help.



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Support Books with Purpose by making a donation to our year-round community outreach initiatives. Bookmarks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations to Bookmarks are tax deducible (EIN: 54-2152610). 

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen By Jose Antonio Vargas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062851345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - September 3rd, 2019


“This riveting, courageous memoir ought to be mandatory reading for every American.”  Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow

Dear America: Young Readers’ Edition: The Story of an Undocumented Citizen By Jose Antonio Vargas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062914620
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - July 14th, 2020

In this young readers’ adaptation of his adult memoir Dear America, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas tells his story, in light of the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.

Jose Antonio Vargas was only twelve years old when he was brought to the United States from the Philippine

Dear America \ Querida América (Spanish edition) By Jose Antonio Vargas, Gabriel Pasquini (Translated by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062931658
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins Espanol - June 25th, 2019

"Fascinante y valiente. Este libro de memorias debe ser lectura obligatoria para todos". —Michelle Alexander, autora de The New Jim Crow, bestseller de The New York Times.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen By Jose Antonio Vargas Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062860972
Availability: Available to order; typically arrives at Bookmarks in 5-10 days
Published: Harper Large Print - September 18th, 2018


“This riveting, courageous memoir ought to be mandatory reading for every American.”  Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow