Open Books gives new meaning to a good read. When you buy used books at the River North independent bookseller, you'll be helping Chicago Public School students read and write better. Sales of donated books (averaging 12,000 a month) go toward supporting the not-for-profit literacy center's programs. More than 50,000 books priced at less than half the cover price ($3 to $8) fill the Crayola-colored, 5,000-square-foot store located in a former bicycle factory. Sunshine streaming through huge windows lights up reading nooks and spotlights the whimsical giant book cloud mobile, metal sculpture dragon, literacy lounge stage and children's section. Trinkets made of recycled books include votive candles, birdhouses, puppets and pencil boxes make creative gifts for page turner ($3 to $10). Check out the Rare and Wonderful Things collection of signed classics for sale. Open Books enrolls the help of 3,000 volunteers to staff the store, host classroom creative writing field trips and work with students in schools. Open Books founder Stacy Ratner started the award-winning literacy center in her South Loop home's basement in 2006.