The goal of Big Shoulders Books is to disseminate, free of charge, quality works of writing by and about Chicagoans whose voices might not otherwise be shared. Each year Big Shoulders Books aims to make small but meaningful contributions to discussions of injustice and inequality in Chicago.

Call for Submissions

Extended deadline: June 21, 2016

We are looking for stories from teen writers in Chicago! Big Shoulders Books' current project, a collection of teen's reflections on relationships, is a chance for teens to get their work professionally published. We want to hear true stories about relationships and dating. How would you define a healthy or unhealthy relationship? What models do you see in your life for relationships (whether among real people, in books, on TV, or in movies)? What do you want out of a relationship?

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I Remember: Chicago Veterans of War is a moving collection that simultaneously mourns the horrors of war and celebrates the indomitable spirit in each and every one of these voices.
— Kim Steele, Newcity

Available now:

I Remember: Chicago Veterans of War  weaves together the Memories of fifty veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These vets were asked to submit any number of "I remember" statements - to recall the small and large of their war experiences.

The book lists veterans' memories one after the next with numbers instead of names in the margin to signal each new voice. Readers can, when and if they choose, check the Biography section in the back of the book to match a number and its associated memories with the name of a veteran and his or her background. The system of numbering is meant to be vaguely militaristic - a way of foregrounding the contrast between a soldier's number or unit and the unique human story of every war.

This anonymous structure illustrates the similarities of all wars. The effect is of one veteran speaking of the shock and scale of every modern war.

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what people are saying

This beautiful book is built on the simplest of premises: “I remember.” Here are Chicago’s bravest, remembering all of what war can be. Theirs are memories that sear and soar and won’t be easily forgotten - not by them, of course, not ever, and not by the rest of us either, as we become their witnesses.
— David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers and Thank You For Your Service
The book offers some rare insights and revelations by veterans—many of whom are reluctant to open up about their time in combat.
— Eddie Arruza, Chicago Tonight, WTTW television
The uniqueness of I Remember is that one or more sentences often tell a story of their own... It will be of benefit to anyone looking to understand the experience of war. This is a worthwhile work of wartime literature that will long be remembered.
— Joseph Reitz, "Books in Review II," The VVA Veteran magazine


how long will i cry?

In 2011 and 2012, while more than 900 people were being murdered on the streets of Chicago, creative-writing students from DePaul University fanned out all over the city to interview people whose lives have been changed by the bloodshed. The result is How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence, an extraordinary and eye-opening work of oral history.

Told by real people in their own words, the stories in How Long Will I Cry? are at turns harrowing, heartbreaking and full of hope.

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What People Are Saying

“It’s the power of what follows here, the frank and often profound reflections of those who have been there, of those who have lost. In their words, often philosophical and poetic, they move us to see what they see and to hear what they hear. They make us all feel less alone.”

Alex Kotlowitz, bestselling author of There Are No Children Here and co-producer of the award-winning film The Interrupters

“Outstanding. … An incredibly rich and compelling examination that deepens our understanding.”

—Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune



Published once every two years at 826CHI, The Compendium is an anthology of writing across 826CHI programs– Field Trips, In-School Projects, Workshops, After-School Tutoring & Writing, and Publications.

A collaboration between 826CHI and Big Shoulders Books, this fourth volume is arranged as an atlas, inspiring readers and writers alike to explore every place they can. The Compendium: Volume IV encompasses journeys in outer space, foreign countries (made-up or otherwise), the future, the past, our great city and our extraordinary young writers.

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» Order a copy to support the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Store