Thursday, December 24, 2009

To the Staff at Reader to Reader

To the Staff at Reader to Reader,

My name is Amy Laurenza and I grew up in Hadley, where my parents still live. Five years ago I moved to New Orleans to teach, and for the last five years I have been teaching 9th and 10th grade reading. I am home for the holidays and I happened to be reading the local paper and read the article about the large shipment of books you sent down to New Orleans. I just wanted to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for your support of our students and children. It is such an amazingly generous thing, and it is so good to know that the struggles of my community are being addressed by such a generous organization!

Happy Holidays!

Amy Laurenza

Monday, December 21, 2009

Smiling Faces!

Lots of smiles this holiday!

Reader To Reader is pleased to announce that every pre-school and kindergarten student in the Chicopee School District, Chicopee, MA, has received their own copy of the Caldecott Honor book In a Small, Small Pond.

A thousand hardcover copies of the books were given out to the children in time for the holidays.

The delightful book by author Denise Fleming, gives children “a frog's eye view of the animals and insects that live in a freshwater pond. Life in the pond is observed throughout the seasons and is depicted via collage illustrations.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Orleans gets 150,000 books from local group

By Nick Grabbe
Staff Writer
Amherst Bulletin
Published on December 18, 2009

A local organization has arranged for 150,000 new children's books to be delivered to New Orleans children, whose schools are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, in time for Christmas.

Reader to Reader has donated 2.8 million books to schools and libraries in needy areas, about half of them in New Orleans. This latest shipment of 150,000 books, which arrived Monday in two tractor trailers, was donated by Barnes & Noble.

"New Orleans is such a long-term project," said David Mazor, Reader to Reader's executive director.

"It had very resource-starved schools before Hurricane Katrina. It takes commitment over time to rebuild the resources and improve what they had before."

This delivery of books represents a new direction for Reader to Reader, which is based at the Cadigan Center for Religious Life at Amherst College, he said.

It's gone beyond scanning the rejects from used book sales, and is now working more with national retailers, he said.

Barnes & Noble officials approached Reader to Reader and asked for its help in arranging the shipment to New Orleans, timing the books' arrival and distribution, Mazor said.

He is currently negotiating with another national retailer for a similar project in another needy part of the U.S., he said.

The Barnes & Noble chairman and his wife have been active in building homes in New Orleans, Mazor said. The company is the world's largest bookseller, with 775 stores.

The 150,000 books are going to the Recovery School District of New Orleans, which has more than 37,000 students. The AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps is helping to distribute the books to schools in time for them to be given to students before the Christmas break.

"Our goal is to get at least one to every student," Mazor said.

Some stuffed animals were included in the shipment. The books are new and are not overstocked items, and appeal to all ages of school children, he said.

"This is the single biggest donation of new books and toys that we have ever made in one shipment," Mazor said.

In September, Reader to Reader donated books by children's author Mo Willems to every first- and second-grade student in the New Orleans district.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

150,000 Books…That’s Right, 150,000!

School Children in New Orleans Ring in Holidays with Mammoth Book Donation

150,000 Books and Plush Toys Donated by Barnes & Noble Through Literacy Organization Reader to Reader

Total Reader To Reader Book Donations to New Orleans Surpass 1.4 Million Since Hurricane Katrina


NEW ORLEANS, LA (December 12, 2009) – The school children of New Orleans have a special reason to celebrate this holiday season as they go home for vacation break with 150,000 books and plush toys donated by Barnes & Noble through the nonprofit literacy organization, Reader to Reader.

Over the past three years, Amherst, Massachusetts-based Reader to Reader has donated some 1.4 million books to schools in New Orleans and Louisiana to help rebuild resources lost in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

To welcome children back to school this past fall Reader to Reader donated books by award-winning children’s author Mo Willems to every first and second grade student in the Recovery School District of New Orleans.

This holiday season Reader to Reader is pleased to work with Barnes & Noble, the world's largest bookseller, to make a truly mammoth book donation. Two 18-wheel tractor trailers are delivering 48 pallets containing 150,000 books and plush toys to the Recovery School District of New Orleans. The shipment will arrive on Monday, December 14, 2009.

“This is the single biggest donation of new books and toys that we have ever made in one shipment,” says Reader to Reader founder and executive director, David Mazor. “Barnes & Nobles' extraordinary generosity will touch the hearts of many thousands of children. The work rebuilding resources lost from Hurricane Katrina is far from over, and we want to thank Barnes & Noble for recognizing the great need that still exists in New Orleans.”

“You may remember Reader to Reader from the Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie Book Project… well, they are back with a mission,” notes Troy Peloquin of the Recovery School District of New Orleans. "They are teaming up with Barnes & Noble to truck in two 18 wheelers, that’s 48 pallets, yes 150,000 books. Guess what I’m doing next week? Please raise a glass this season for Reader to Reader and Barnes & Noble. You make my job easy and challenging, heart warming and back breaking. For this, I thank you. You are righteous.”

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is very excited to help distribute these books to schools in time for them to be handed them out to students as festive gifts before break.

Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, who along with his wife, Louise, founded Project Home Again (PHA) shortly after Hurricane Katrina, has continued to be very active in helping New Orleans rebuild. In October, the Riggios, PHA families, elected officials, representatives from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority were on hand as PHA broke ground for 12 more homes in the Gentilly neighborhood in New Orleans. To date, PHA has built a total of 36 new homes with an additional 8 more homes under construction.

About Reader to Reader

Based on the campus of Amherst College in Amherst, MA, Reader to Reader, Inc. www.readertoreader.org is a non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need. They have donated 2.8 million books to schools and libraries in need across the United States, and 1.4 million books to schools and libraries in New Orleans rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It’s people like you and your staff that make the world a better place

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you and your staff for the donation of books. It’s people like you and your staff that make the world a better place. The books will be used to help students enhance their reading skills and hopefully increase low test scores.

I know that you and your staff are helping a lot of low-scoring schools. May God bless all of you.

Sincerely,

Alma Bradley
Media Specialist
Central High School
West Helena, Arkansas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicopee Children to Explore “In a Small, Small Pond”

There will be lots of happy young children this holiday in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

Reader To Reader is proud to announce that every pre-school and kindergarten student in the Chicopee school district will be receiving their own hardcover copy of the Caldecott Honor book In a Small, Small Pond.

A thousand copies of the books will be given out to the children in time for the holidays.

The delightful book by author Denise Fleming, gives children “a frog's eye view of the animals and insects that live in a freshwater pond. Life in the pond is observed throughout the seasons and is depicted via collage illustrations.”

Reader To Reader would like to thank publisher Henry Holt and Co. for making this donation possible. The donation is also made possible due to the support of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, FirstBook, Comcast, Chicopee Savings Bank, and the Xeric Foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Clean Sweep

The truck from the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive has been unloaded and swept clean in advance of its return to U-Haul.

The truck carried 12,000 books and 10 computers some 2,300 miles from Reader To Reader’s home in Amherst, MA, to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, AZ.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jane Yolen Receives Norton Juster Award

Hailed as "America's Hans Christian Andersen,” writer Jane Yolen is the 2009 receipient of Reader To Reader’s “Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy.”

The award was presented November 8th at the 20th Annual Children’s Illustration Show at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA.

Yolen has written over 300 books, won numerous awards, and been given six honorary doctorates in literature. Her writing spans diverse genres, including folklore, fantasy, science fiction, and children's literature.

Yolen has been a generous donor to Reader To Reader, including donating hundreds of books for the children that were affected by Hurricane Katrina.

We are pleased to recognize her for her outstanding contribution to literacy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reading relay: 10,000 books from Valley project on way to Navajo Nation readers

Nick Grabbe
staff writer
Daily Hampshire Gazette

AMHERST - Thousands of books from local library sales made their way across the country this week, headed for Navajo readers 2,300 miles away.

Reader to Reader, an Amherst organization that has collected and given away 2.5 million books in the past eight years, received a visit this week from Irving Nelson of the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Ariz.

On Tuesday, he and an associate rented a 26-foot truck and loaded 10,000 books, along with 10 computers donated by Amherst College, into it.

On Friday, they were expected to arrive in Window Rock, which is on the New Mexico border. Nelson will catalog the books and make them available to 280,000 people who live in the 27,000-square-mile Navajo area.

"We are a book-rich community, and we have so many libraries," said David Mazor, founder and executive director of Reader to Reader. "They have one central library with responsibility for a massive area. This is something that we have a surplus of that we can share with them."

Reader to Reader acquired two-thirds of the books by screening 100,000 volumes left over from sales in Amherst, Northampton, Sunderland, Belchertown and Granby, Mazor said. The Mystery Writers of America donated 2,000 books, and the 7,000 people on the organization's email list contributed most of the rest.

Amherst College employees have previously used the donated computers, and they have been refurbished and given new software, Mazor said. They will double the number of computers at the Navajo Nation Library.

"The books will get heavily used," said Nelson. "They'll go out across the entire Navajo Nation. People will come long distances for them. And we don't have enough computers to meet the needs of our people."

About half of the books are for children and young readers, the age range where the library gets the most use. Nelson provides books to 125 elementary schools in the Navajo area, some seven hours away from Window Rock, he said. In addition to the mysteries, there are about 80 art books and lots of cookbooks and volumes on Native Americans, Mazor said.

The library has 73,000 books, plus magazines, newspapers and a reference section that gets inquiries from all over the world, Nelson said. Mazor said he has set a goal of providing the library with 100,000 books and 100 computers over the next five years.

"This for us is just the start," he said.

Reader to Reader is based at Amherst College's Cadigan Center for Religious Life on Woodside Avenue. Last May, Mazor took a group of Amherst students to the Navajo area; he is planning another trip in March.

The Navajo Nation is paying the expenses of flying two people from Albuquerque to Bradley International Airport, and the $2,600 cost of renting the truck. Transporting the books this way is more cost-effective than shipping them, Mazor said.

"This is so gratifying," Nelson said. "I'm not going to even see the impact on the kids, but I've seen photographs of them with the books. That makes it all worthwhile. In the long hours driving home, we'll be imagining smiles like that all over the Navajo Nation."

Mazor insists that all the used books he donates be in excellent condition, almost like new ones. Reader to Reader has supplied books to 400 schools and community libraries across the United States, and is about to launch its first overseas program in rural Costa Rica, he said. It donates more than 1,000 books a week to schools and libraries in Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield and West Springfield, he said.

"Our mission just continues to expand," Mazor said. "The demand in the recession is greater than ever."

The Navajo campaign has been one of the most enjoyable ones he's been involved in, he said.

"We worked together on strategies of what books to collect and a vision of what the drive should be," he said. "It's a lot of fun, and I'm excited to be growing this program."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Greetings from Amarillo, Texas!

As of 9:30 PM, Thursday night, the truck full of 10,000 books and 10 computers bound for the Navajo Nation Library, was 75 miles east of Amarillo, Texas.

The truck is expected to arrive in Window Rock, Arizona, on Friday afternoon. The truck departed Holyoke, Massachusetts, on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1,2,3…15,000 Books


Start with the biggest U-Haul they make and it's as easy as...

...One...Two...Three...15,000!

Well, not really.

Start with 15,000 books and a dedicated team of volunteers, and in only two hours loaded from stem to stern and ready to hit the road for three 18-hour days of driving.

Next stop the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Navajo Nation librarian Nelson receives national awards

Gallup Independent
by Karen Frances
Diné Bureau

WINDOW ROCK – Starting as a bookmobile driver and now working as program manager of the Navajo Nation Library system, Irving Nelson has seen the library grow in the past 32 years.
Now he is being honored for his service to the public with three national awards.
Nelson has won the first-ever Prism Award from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums Conference, and the Librarian of the Year award from the Reader to Reader program.
Nelson said winning three prestigious awards within two months is “unbelievable” for him.
“I’m just doing my regular job duties, but I’m finding out that we’re doing more than other libraries,” Nelson said.
He said he gives a lot of credit to his staff.
“They are so hard-working. They helped every step of the way,” he said.
On Monday, Nelson is flying out to pick up his latest award – the Librarian of the Year – and to transport a truckload of books back to Navajoland.
Nelson had met David Mazor, the CEO of Reader to Reader, over the summer, and Mazor had a goal of collecting 100,000 books and 100 computers for the Navajo Nation Library.
“They’ve been collecting books over five months,” Nelson said.
Nelson and some staff members will pick up a U-Haul and drive the 2,300 miles back with the donated books and six computers.
When asked how it was to be one of the first two recipients of the Prism Award from the National Museum of the American Indian for public service, Nelson broke out into a huge smile. “Oh, that was so awesome,” he said.
His expenses were paid to stay at a five-star hotel and attend an opening reception and the awards ceremony on Oct. 7.
“It was like something out of the movies,” he said.
Nelson was introduced by actor Wes Studi and spoke for more than 20 minutes when he accepted the award.
The award itself is made from the same material used to construct the Smithsonian museum, Nelson said.
NMAI director Kevin Grover said, “We were looking for those quiet heroes from our hometown who are good hearted and committed to the betterment of peoples’ lives.”
These individuals go largely unnoticed by the outside world, Grover added.
The next award Nelson won was the Lifetime Achievement Award on Oct. 21.
“When I first heard about the Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums award, my legs turned to jelly. I had to sit down. It was a tremendous shock,” he said.
He is winning awards now, but when Nelson and the library program first moved into the Navajo Nation Museum where they are now located, there were only about 17,000 books. Now there are more than 77,000 books, many of which have been donated.
Nelson has made many trips across the country to pick up those books. He has established relationships with various people and organizations that collect the books, but it all started with Greg Smith, who also nominated Nelson for the Prism Award.
“From there, I started working with other organizations,” he said.
The book collection has grown, and so has the number of visitors. When the library first opened at its present location in October 1997, it was receiving about 200 visitors a month. “Now we’re at 300 a day,” Nelson said.
“When people came to this library they would say, ‘What kind of library is this? There’s no books.’ I took it to heart and started working to get books,” he said.
The mission for the library is to increase literacy on the Navajo Nation, and the library does so by sending out donated books to the chapters.
“People in outlying areas, they’re not picky about what they get. They just want anything to read. They’re hungry to read,” Nelson said.
One project that the library is working on is distributing the book “Little Black, A Pony” by Walter Farley to all the first graders on the Navajo Nation.
The hard-cover book is written in English and Navajo, and is illustrated by Bahe Whitethorne Sr. The books were donated to the Department of Diné Education by the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation in Florida, Nelson said.
Other ways the library helps to increase literacy are the summer reading programs and special loans available for teachers on the Navajo Nation.
Nelson has seen the many changes that libraries go through. “When I started there were no computers, no Internet, no video games on the Navajo Nation and I used to use an electric typewriter to type catalog cards,” he said.
Now the library has 11 computers, which draws people in all the time.
“We have a waiting list everyday, people wanting to use computers,” Nelson said.
The library has an extensive Native American collection including 1,200 books on Navajos and oral Navajo history recordings.
It’s one of Nelson’s goals to digitize those recordings. Doing so would cost about $300,000, he said.
“Once we have that done we’ll be able to put that on a server so all that information will be available,” he said.
One of the most recent developments for the Navajo Nation Library system is the establishment of a library in Kayenta last year.
The Kayenta library is noisy because it is currently in the recreation center, but Nelson and the community are working to relocate it. Navajo County library district is donating a mobile home to house the library and the Kayenta Township is making plans for it, Nelson said.

Copyright © 2009
Gallup Independent

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Packed Up And Ready To Go!

7 Tons of books and 10 Dell Pentium computers are packed and ready to go Tuesday morning to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

The mountain of 15,000 books has been stored in warehouse space in Holyoke, MA, that was generously donated by David White and Exclusive Car Service.

The books will be loaded by forklift into a 26” U-Haul and library director, Irving Nelson, will personally spend three 12-hour days driving the books to the Navajo Nation.

We have worked very hard to make his efforts worth while. More than 50,000 books were sorted through to create the 15,000 book donation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reading Mentors Hard at Work

Our Amherst College reading mentors have been hard at work corresponding with children across the United States. The energetic team of 40 college students manage to cover 81 books, all while juggling their own heavy class loads.

Reader To Reader’s Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program and Navajo Mentoring Program bring together children from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three Cheers!!!!

Three cheers and a truck load of gratitude to Rose and Larry Minior!

Rose and Larry gave many dedicated years of volunteer service bringing books that were donated in the Boston area to our headquarters in Amherst. Many times they loaded up their Jeep to overflowing! They are now retiring from this service and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the hundreds of boxes they have delivered to our door. They are two in a million!

Monday, October 19, 2009

What a Pleasant Surprise!

Dear Reader To Reader,

What a pleasant surprise I had yesterday when I went to get my mail and discovered you had left the copy of Breaking Dawn and the two copies of The Lovely Bones I had requested. The students are so happy to have them in our library.

Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Ellen Stein, Librarian
Holyoke High School
Holyoke, MA

Monday, October 12, 2009

Each Child Gets to Select a Book to Take Home

Dear Reader to Reader,

I received the carton of books you sent to help Concord Prison Outreach provide books to kids who come to visit their dads in prison. Several times a year, Concord Prison Outreach sponsors Family Day at the Northeastern Correctional Center in Concord, MA. It's a festive visiting day with crafts and activities for the kids to do. As part of the event, the kids get their picture taken with their dads. One print is sent home with the children and one is a precious keepsake for the dads (tucked in a frame decorated by their children). At the end of the visit, each child gets to select a book to take home.

In recent years, the number of children attending Family Days has grown, and it's a challenge to provide new and gently used books for every child at each event. Your donation of these wonderful books will help ensure that the kids go home not only with a happy memory and a cherished photo, but also with a book to call their own.

Thank you for the great work you do and for this much appreciated gift.

With all good wishes,

Phyllis Staffier
Concord Prison Outreach Volunteer
Concord, MA

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Are So Very Grateful

Dear Reader To Reader,

We received the books at our new address just a few weeks ago. They are much appreciated. The children love them. I noticed several series books among the many wonderful titles and, as you know, a child who reads and likes one in a series, will devour the rest. We are so very grateful.

I am delighted.

Teresa Pfeifer, Librarian
Zanetti Montessori Magnet School
Springfield, MA

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Box, Two Box....220 Boxes and Growing!

Our Navajo Nation Library Book Drive continues to grow thanks to the generosity of donors from across the country.

Pictured is Reader to Reader’s Kathryn Libby with some of the 220 boxes that will be part of the first shipment of books at the end of October to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

Special thanks this week to the Mystery Writers of America and the League of Women Voters of Northampton, MA for all the books they have contributed.

The Navajo Nation Library Book Drive is collecting 100,000 books and 100 computers for the Navajo Nation Library. The library serves the 27,000 sq. mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

It is not too late to donate books to the book drive. Please help us by following these guidelines.

1. Books should be in very good or excellent condition. (Books on Native-American subjects will be accepted in any condition).
2. Books on the subject of medicine or health should be no older than 4 years old.
3. CDs and DVDs accepted. No records, VHS or cassette tapes.
4. No magazines.
5. No textbooks.
6. No encyclopedias.
7. Donations of more than 10 boxes of books at a time should first contact us at info@readertoreader.org so we can make storage space arrangements.
8. People interested in donating computers should first contact us at info@readertoreader.org before making the donation. All computer donations must be preapproved.

Books should be shipped to:

Navajo Nation Book Drive
Reader To Reader, Inc.
Cadigan Center – 38 Woodside Ave.
Amherst, MA 01002

For further information contact info@readertoreader.org

Thank you for helping to make the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive a success!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Amherst Student Links With College Organization to Help Costa Rican Village

The Amherst Student
By Diana Torres '12, News Section Editor

Every summer, thousands of American college students work in third world countries to help “make a difference in the world”. They build houses in remote Mexican towns, tutor children in Uganda or give poor Nicaraguan women microfinance loans to help them start their own businesses. During their stay, students are often shocked by the abject poverty they find and try to lend a helping hand.

However, most student experiences end with the summer when they come back to the United States and return to their comparatively privileged lives. Cait Scudder ’11, however, was not satisfied by volunteering for merely three short months after her stay in Costa Rica this past summer. The villagers’ poor living conditions were too grim, too sad and too unjust for her to continue living a comfortable life without remembering the people she saw struggling everyday to put food on the table.

Scudder returned to the College with a new mission. She wanted to make a sustainable difference in the community she worked in, and to her, the best way to do so was to help improve the poor education system she saw in the town.

Santa Cruz de León Cortés, the small town she volunteered at, does not provide children with a quality education. The children do not have access to books and they do not know how to use the 12 donated computers idly sitting in their computer lab. In the high school’s 2008 graduating class, only 50 percent of students graduated, while only one student went on to pursue a university education. And amongst the adults in the community, only a few have a high school education. According to Scudder, “The cycle of academic underachievement and general disinterest originates from a lack of adequate available resources that are crucial to inspire success.”

To change this situation, Scudder decided to partner up with “Reader To Reader,” an on-campus organization that provides books, computers and tutoring services to underprivileged communities. Through this partnership, Scudder created “Beyond El Campo,” an organization committed to providing educational resources to the Santa Cruz community. Through fundraising, grant and letter writing, Scudder plans to raise enough money to build a new library in the high school during the summer of 2010. A certified library technician from Hartford will teach community members how to run the library sustainably and how to use the available computers to enhance students’ learning experience. Once this is done, bilingual Amherst students will begin tutoring Santa Cruz scholars through an online blogging system. Scudder hopes that the program will help reduce the drop-out rate, increase student reading in and outside of the classroom, raise the graduation rate, provide the high school with the initial resources it needs in order to grow and become sustainable and to create work and volunteer involvement opportunities for the Santa Cruz community through the new library.

“I am thrilled about this project and the opportunity to bring what we do at Reader To Reader to the schools in Costa Rica that need it most,” said Scudder. “Having spent significant time within a rural Costa Rican school community, I have seen the need and know the passion these kids have to learn is real. By equipping schools with the crucial tools they need in order to make their classrooms academically successful, we are making it possible for these schools to improve the quality of education they give to students, and help them enable students to strive for heights they never knew were reachable.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We can rely on you every year to give us a fresh injection of literature!

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you so much for your annual contribution of books to our school. The books have been used to augment the classroom libraries and the school library, and we were even able to give books to parents so their children will have books to read at home. We really appreciate the program, and that we can rely on you every year to give us a fresh injection of literature!

Thanks again, we really appreciate your program.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Luff, E.L.A. teacher
William N. DeBerry Elementary School
Springfield, MA

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program Doubles in Size

Enthusiastic Amherst College students from diverse backgrounds gathered together as Reader To Reader launched the third year of the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program.

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program has more than doubled in size again for the 2009-2010 school year. The online mentoring program began in 2008 with 7 mentors. In 2009, 17 mentors were hired as three new schools joined the program, and for the 2009-2010 school year over 40 mentors will help students across the country explore books, build academic skills, and develop a love for reading.

The innovative mentoring program brings together children from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models.

Jim Trelease, noted literacy advocate and author of The Read-Aloud Handbook has been a strong supporter of the program.

"With online connections now present in most urban schools, we've got one half of the personal 'mentoring' program in place. David Mazor's Reader To Reader project now completes the formula, providing top-notch college students as mentors via the Web and email.” Trelease explains. “What the program accomplished with motivating Native-American youths while connecting them to college-age mentors 3,000 miles away is one of those unsung success stories that deserves national recognition. It begs the question: Why isn't it being adopted by other cities and rural districts across the nation?"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It is always nice to add new books to our collection

Dear Reader To Reader:

Thank you so much for the donation of books to our library. It is always nice to add new books to our collection, and one of our English teachers is keeping the advanced reader copies in her classroom for the students to read. We appreciate your generosity!

Sincerely,

Ellen Stein
Librarian
Holyoke High School
Holyoke, MA

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Orleans Children Go Back To School with Elephant & Piggie!

Caldecott Award winning children’s author Mo Willems has teamed with Reader To Reader to make back to school a special time for the children of New Orleans.

Thousands of first and second grade students of New Orleans’s public schools are getting their own personal copies of Willems’s delightful Elephant & Piggie books and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy as they begin their school year.

Reader To Reader is working with the Recovery School District to distribute Willem’s books to all the elementary schools.

The Recovery School District was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild the schools destroyed by the devastating 2005 hurricane.

Troy Peloquin of the Recovery School District was delighted to have the donation.

“Love it! Love it! The teachers adore it! It’s a really fun project,” Peloquin notes.

Author and illustrator Mo Willems grew-up in New Orleans and is looking to make a long-term commitment to the children of New Orleans. He shared his motives for making such a large donation.

"I suppose there was a confluence of being a native New Orleanian, having discovered that having books in the home is a determining factor in later educational success, and the waves of Katrina washing away some of my complacency,” Willems says. “I'd sent books to three schools the year before, so including more schools seemed a logical step towards a small gesture that I hope to continue for decades."

Mo has a heart as big as all of Louisiana!” says Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor. “He has done something truly special for these children.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just received 5 boxes of books from you. I am putting approximately three boxes worth into the library and giving the other two to the students, so they can take them home.

I thank you, my students thank you!!!

Christine Demski, Librarian
Mary M. Walsh Elementary School
Springfield, MA

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reader To Reader Launches Costa Rica Project

Reader To Reader is proud to announce the launching of Beyond el campo, a new books and computers donation initiative to build school libraries in rural Costa Rica.

With project Beyond el campo, Reader To Reader will work together with severely under-resourced high school students in rural Costa Rica in an effort to strengthen their educational resources and expand their academic community.

Project Beyond el campo will team with local community members to build a new school library, and provide librarian training to local community members by our Spanish-speaking certified library technician, in order to make the library sustainable and 100% community-run.

The second half of the project includes creating an on-line mentorship program between bi-lingual Amherst College reading mentors and the Costa Rican students. The online mentoring will not only bring students the supplementary support lacking in the classroom environment, but will introduce students to crucial technological skills, and through networking with successful U.S. students, inspire the students to bring innovation and entrepreneurship to their local and greater community and excel beyond “el campo” (Spanish for field or countryside).

The project will be headed by Caitlin Scudder, an Amherst College student and Reader To Reader’s new Assistant Director of International Programs.

Caitlin began her affiliation with Reader To Reader as a reading mentor in both the Navajo Mentoring Program and Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program. This summer she helped establish the Summer Enrichment Program, which works with low-income Native-American students in an intensive three-week program on the Amherst College campus.

"I am thrilled about this project and the opportunity to bring what we do at Reader To Reader to the schools in Costa Rica that need it most," Scudder says. "Having spent significant time within a rural Costa Rican school community, I have seen the need and know the passion these kids have to learn is real. By equipping schools with the crucial tools they need in order to make their classrooms academically successful, we are making it possible for these schools to improve the quality of education they give to students, and help them enable students to strive for heights they never knew were reachable."

Phase one of the project focuses on Santa Cruz de León Cortés, a small coffee-farming community with low academic achievement and a severely low percentage of students who continue on to higher education.

In the high school’s 2008 graduating class, only 50% of students graduated and received diplomas, and one student alone went on to pursue a university education.

The cycle of academic underachievement and general disinterest originates from a lack of adequate available resources that are crucial to inspire success.

Project Beyond el campo will impact the greater Santa Cruz community by providing the high school with the educational tools and training that will enable the community to be successful; and through connecting students with a support network of U.S. college mentors, will create a bond between the local Amherst College community and Santa Cruz.

For more information on Beyond el campo email: info@readertoreader.org

Monday, August 24, 2009

Retired Teachers Helping New Teachers

The other day a retired teacher from Cleveland, Ohio, came by with an entire pickup truck full of classroom material.

Packed into six large tubs, he brought a treasure trove of bulletin board materials, educational games, student worksheets, maps, charts, and other resources that he had accumulated over his 30 years as an elementary school teacher.

Every year we have a number of retiring teachers that want to pass on the resources that they created and acquired over decades of teaching. Rather than throw it out they wisely want to donate these resources to young teachers who often pay out of pocket in order to fully equip their classrooms.

We are so glad we can play a role in helping one generation of teachers reach out to another.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thank You for the Generous Donation

A big cheer for Patricia Lanchester, property manager at the James Lee Court Apartments in Oakland, California! Ms. Lanchester has set up a lending library for the children living in the affordable housing units.

Dear Reader to Reader,

On behalf of the kids of James Lee Court, I’d like to thank you for the generous donation of new reading material. I have organized a reading club for our underprivileged kids and I am hoping to affect their education by making reading fun this summer.

The Reader To Reader books are currently being sorted and tagged so that each child has an opportunity to read and borrow the books at their leisure.

We are a non-profit organization with no funds for things such as community services, but we have been blessed in many small ways.

Kind Regards,

Patricia Lanchester
Property Manager

(The apartments are owned by Dignity Housing West, Inc. an affordable housing developer with IRS tax-exempt status. Dignity Housing West was founded in 1989 as a 3-way partnership between the First Unitarian Church, a community based church with a history of service; Oakland Union of the Homeless, a group of homeless-rights advocates and crusaders; and Oakland Community Housing, Inc.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

101 boxes!

60 days into our Navajo Nation Library Book Drive we already have collected 101 boxes of top-notch books. The books for every age from toddlers to seniors are all in excellent condition thanks to the expert sorting of our community volunteers.

There are lots of mysteries thanks to the contributions of the Mystery Writers of America and some great nonfiction courtesy of Parade Magazine. Terrific children’s books too! Thank you to all the donors. Please keep the books coming!

The Navajo Nation Library Book Drive is collecting 100,000 books and 100 computers for the Navajo Nation Library. The library serves the 27,000 sq. mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reader To Reader Mourns Passing of Frank McCourt

It is with deep sadness that we mark the passing of author Frank McCourt. Our Summer Enrichment Program had a special link to McCourt as the participants read Angela’s Ashes and travelled to New Haven to hear McCourt speak just weeks before he died.

Reading mentor Kathryn Libby notes:

“I was so shocked to hear of Mr. McCourt's death: we had seen him speak at Yale just a month ago and he was so engaging and energized! I was honored to be in the presence of so great a writer, and someone who spoke so eloquently and humorously of an impoverished Irish Catholic past. His words touched each and every one of the audience that afternoon. He was such a graceful and dedicated man. I highly recommend his memoir Angela's Ashes for anyone looking for a book that is poignant and entertaining throughout.”

Reader To Reader has also used Frank McCourt’s books as part of the online Navajo Mentoring Program and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela’s Ashes never fails to stir the heart and mind with its touching mix of sorrow and the resiliency of the human spirit.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Special Thank You to David White

What does a Limo have to do with the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive?

An even better question is where do you store the thousands of books destined for the Navajo Nation Library?

The latter was the question we faced as we began collecting books for a book drive with a goal of 100,000 books and 100 computers.

Fortunately, Exclusive Car Service owner David White has provided Reader To Reader with free warehouse space at his headquarters in Holyoke, MA.

White’s offer of warehouse space will allow the books to be shipped in bulk, saving thousands of dollars in shipping costs.

Thank you, David, for your generous offer. And, if you need limousine service in the Springfield area please consider Exclusive Car Service. They do a great job!

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's No Mystery

Reader To Reader’s Navajo Nation Library Book Drive continues to grow with a large donation of mysteries that arrived this morning from the Mystery Writers of America.

The book drive aims to collect 100,000 books and 100 computers for the Navajo Nation Library.

The library serves the 27,000 sq. mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

The Mystery Writers of America have signed on as book drive partners with Reader To Reader and are donating thousands of mystery novels from their members.

The MWA is the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Navajo Nation Book Drive Gathers Steam

Summer interns Cait Scudder and Kat Libby pause in unloading 25 boxes of books headed for the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, AZ.

Reader To Reader’s Navajo Nation Library Book Drive aims to collect 100,00 books and 100 computers for the Navajo Nation Library. The library serves the 27,000 sq. mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

For more information on the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive please email info@readertoreader.org

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Special Visitors

Emily and Harrison Winters (who are the twins behind the BookGrams4Grandma Book Drive) visited Reader To Reader recently as they toured Amherst College as part of their college selection process.

The two outstanding students have collected hundreds of books for Reader To Reader and we were so pleased that they could visit us in person. Our only question is which top college is going to be lucky enough to get them!

Here is their wonderful story:

Three years ago, our grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s moved into an independent living facility. Unfortunately, she was not able to bring her numerous books with her because due to her condition, she was unable to read them.

We came up with a great idea to use her books to do a community service project. But what to do? After much brainstorming, we decided to donate the books to various organizations, but with a special twist. We created BookGrams4Grandma as a way for our grandma’s passion for reading to live on.

When it came down to finding places where we could donate our grandma’s books, this proved to be a challenge. Many places would not accept her books because they were adult, hardcover, fiction books. However, we did notice a pattern in the books that organizations wanted. Many places were in need of children’s books. We decided to trade in our grandma’s adult books for children’s books at a local bookstore in Fort Washington. We also went through our bookshelves and asked friends to donate books to the program too.

We chose an organization called Reader to Reader in Massachusetts to send our books. Reader to Reader donates books to deprived libraries across the country. We created a special sticker that we place in all of our books, describing BookGrams4Grandma. Over the last three years, we have sent approximately 600 children’s books to Reader to Reader.

(We thank Emily and Harrison Winters for all the amazing work they have done. Please visit their blog to learn more about them.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

I am Encouraged to Make a Difference in My Sons' School

Dear Reader To Reader,

I love what you do!

I am just finishing up reading Jim Trelease's book and am encouraged to make a difference in my sons' school in the area of reading and books. Thank you for stepping forward and filling a need and being an amazing example for others who also have a love for books and for getting them into children's hands.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Therese Irizarry

(Read the profile of Reader To Reader in the Read-Aloud Handbook.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mystery Writers of America Partners with Reader To Reader

The prestigious Mystery Writers of America has joined Reader To Reader’s Navajo Nation Library Book Drive.

The book drive’s goal is to add 100,000 books and 100 computers to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, AZ. The library serves as the principal library for the residents of the 27,000 sq. mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

“We are so pleased to partner with the Mystery Writers of America to bring thousands of mysteries crime fiction and other books to the families that live on the Navajo reservation,” Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor says. “The MWA is well known for their Edgar® Awards that honor the best in mystery writing so we know their members will contribute great books.”

“Everyone at MWA is very excited and we already have some books ready to ship,” Laura Durham, Chairperson of Mystery Writers of America's MWA: Reads committee adds. “We are looking forward to working together.”

The Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction.

For more information on the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive please email info@readertoreader.org

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reader To Reader on TV


Channel 40 TV in Springfield, MA, ran a feature on Reader To Reader and our impact on Springfield's schools.

You can watch the news feature here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Enjoyed Your Enthusiasm, Passion, and Ability to Reach Students

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you for filling our book request for books for summer reading. The class was so excited, they poured over the books.

I enjoyed your enthusiasm, passion, and ability to reach students through reading no matter who they were, are, but most importantly Reader To Reader focuses on who they can be. Those are the reasons I have always wanted to be a teacher and know firsthand how reading can change one’s life.

Sincerely,

Rebecca LeClair
8th Grade ELA
Bellamy Middle School
Chicopee, MA

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reader To Reader Launches Summer Enrichment Program

This summer marks the debut of Reader To Reader's new Summer Enrichment Program. The program brings students from low-income communities who are entering their senior year in high school to Reader To Reader’s home on the campus of Amherst College for three weeks of academic enrichment.

The program focuses on enhancing academic skills through one-on-on work with college student reading mentors and specialized workshops with guest instructors. In addition to academic enrichment, the program also focuses on the college selection and application process, and strategies for a successful college experience.

“We are very excited to launch this new program which is an offshoot of our Navajo Mentoring Program,” says David Mazor, executive director of Reader To Reader. “We believe it will have a direct impact on students’ ability to get into and most importantly succeed in college.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rhode Island Librarian is “Librarian of the Year”

School librarian Lisa Mutter-Gendreau displays her award as Reader To Reader’s Librarian of the Year for 2009.

Ms. Mutter-Gendreau was chosen from the over 400 librarians that participate in the Reader To Reader program for her outstanding service to the students of Henry J. Winters Elementary in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

“Lisa Mutter-Gendreau has worked very hard to make her school library a wonderful place for all her students,” notes Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor. “She is always looking for resources that she can add and is an inspiration to everyone that cares about literacy.”

“Our library at Henry J. Winters Elementary School has grown tremendously due to generous contributions made by Reader To Reader. My students are so excited about all the new titles we have added to our shelves,” Mutter-Gendreau says. “Organizations like Reader To Reader make it possible for schools operating with little or no budget to continuously expand their school libraries. Your donations have made my students enthusiastic about reading. And that is fantastic! My sincere thanks to all of you for making this happen.”

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to Lisa Mutter-Gendreau and are pleased to recognize her with this award.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reader To Reader Launches Navajo Nation Library Book Drive

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive.

The Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona, serves the 26,000 square mile Navajo Nation in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The library has a collection of 75,000 books and 15 computers. Reader To Reader has set a book drive goal to collect 100,000 books and 100 computers.

“I am very excited about our planned joint project,” says Irving Nelson, Program Supervisor for the Navajo Nation Library. “I would like to note that Reader To Reader’s goals to secure 100,000 books and 100 computers are very ambitious and I sincerely believe that it will be accomplished.”

Regarding Reader To Reader’s previous donations he adds, “I would like to note that the qualities of the books you secured for our branch library were excellent and I was so pleased to add them to our branch library collections. The books were definitely a wonderful addition to our branch library.”

“The Navajo Nation Library plays an invaluable role for the children and adults of the Navajo Nation,” says Reader To Reader Executive Director, David Mazor. “There are no book stores in the entire 26,000 square mile area, so the library fills a essential need that would otherwise not be met. We are so pleased to partner with them on an ambitious project to boost their library resources.”

We encourage people to donate books for the library and ask that they use the following guidelines.

1. Books should be in very good or excellent condition. (Books on Native-American subjects will be accepted in any condition).
2. Books on the subject of medicine or health should be no older than 4 years old.
3. CDs and DVDs accepted. No records, VHS or cassette tapes.
4. No magazines.
5. No textbooks.
6. No encyclopedias.
7. Donations of more than 10 boxes of books at a time should first contact us at info@readertoreader.org so we can make storage space arrangements.
8. People interested in donating computers should first contact us at info@readertoreader.org before making the donation. All computer donations must be preapproved.

Books should be shipped to:

Navajo Nation Book Drive
Reader To Reader, Inc.
Cadigan Center – 38 Woodside Ave.
Amherst, MA 01002

For further information contact info@readertoreader.org

Please help us make the Navajo Nation Library Book Drive a success!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Navajo Pine High Honors Reader To Reader

Navajo Pine High School’s vice-principal Rick Hall presented a plaque to Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor for the $175,000 in books, computers and other resources Reader To Reader had donated to the school during the 2008-2009 school year.

The plaque reads:

Navajo Pine High School would like to honor Reader To Reader and executive director David Mazor for their support and commitment to reading and public education.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Learning the Sacred Way

Navajo Pine High School assistant librarian Samantha Begay gave an excellent presentation on the Kinaalda Ceremony. The four day ceremony celebrates a girl's passage into womanhood.

Amherst College juniors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder are spending the week with Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor working in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Honoring Hard Work

Navajo Pine High School students participating in the online mentoring program were honored at an awards ceremony for their hard work during the 2008-2009 school year. Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor and reading mentors Cait Scudder and Kathryn Libby presented the awards during their visit to Navajo, New Mexico.

Among the honorees were Rodson Sandoval, who received a special plaque as the Top Mentoring Student for 2009 and an autographed NFL football.

Also pictured is Bettina Kinlichinie who received the award for Outstanding Achievement -- College Literature. Kinlichinie received a volleyball autographed by two time Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.

Other award winners included: Al Cody Yazzie Outstanding Achievement --Science, Vichelle Harvey Special Recognition-- Fiction, Gabrielle Nakai Special Recognition-- Fiction, Leticia Begay Special Recognition -- Native American Literature, Kimberly Thomas Special Recognition-- Young Adult Fiction, Murphy Yazzie Special Recognition-- Young Adult Fiction, and Jesse CauyAugust Special Recognition--Manga.

The award recipients received a host of prizes donated by the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Team USA Volleyball, The Volleyball Hall of Fame, the Boston Red Sox and the WNBA Connecticut Sun.

Congratulations to all the award winners for all their hard work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Visiting Navajo Pine High

Reading mentors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder travelled to Navajo Pine High School in Navajo, New Mexico to meet the students that have been participating in the online reading program.

The mentors met outstanding shop teacher Robert Carrick, who by himself teaches welding, auto repair, woodworking and CAD drawing.

Mr. Carrick has the great idea to have his students build wind turbines and solar panels so they can be skilled in green technologies.



Reader To Reader has been supplying his shop with books on solar technologies to help launch the project.

Amherst College juniors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gathering Together

On the last evening of their visit to St. Michael Indian School in St. Michael, Arizona, Reader To Reader’s executive director David Mazor and reading mentors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder gathered with the students and their families for a celebratory dinner.

In addition to lots of great food the students prepared Navajo culture presentations on Navajo language, government and history.

The gathering was a special send-off for the mentors that will not be forgotten.


Reader to Reader Executive Director, David Mazor, and Amherst College juniors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.




Sad to say goodbye!

Friday, May 22, 2009

On Trial

The juniors of St. Michael Indian School staged a mock trial based on Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible with their visiting Amherst College reading mentors serving as the trial judges.

“The Amherst College student mentors really inspired our students to step up their game,” history teacher, Michelle Horrevorts, said.

St. Michael students engaged in extraordinary displays of extemporaneous speaking while serving as the prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Amherst College juniors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Enjoying Literature, Analyzing Text

Amherst College students Cait Scudder and Kathryn Libby lead a large group discussion with St. Michael Indian School's sophomores. The high level of their work drew raves from the students and their English teacher.

"As a teacher, observing these discussions is the reason I teach," St. Michael's English teacher, Joan Levitt, explains. "I see and hear students who are enjoying literature, analyzing text, and conversing with college students clearly and creatively. I love it."

The two Amherst College juniors are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ya'at' eeh Means Hello

Amherst College students Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder stand with Irene Silentman, Navajo language teacher at St. Michael Indian School in St. Michael, Arizona. The two Amherst College juniors are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

The students attended Ms. Silentman's first year Navajo language class. They not only observed how the Navajo language is taught but also participated along with St. Michael's high school students.

During the class they learned that Navajo is a tonal language, with the vowels rising and falling. The meaning of words also changes with the pitch of the voice. The four separate tones of voice used are low, high, rising, and falling. They also learned about various verb conjugations.

To Ms. Silentman we gratefully say Ahe'hee (thank you).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Small Group Discussion

Students at St. Michael Indian School in St. Michael, Arizona, engage in a small group book discussion with Amherst College reading mentors Cait Scudder and Kathryn Libby. The students explored the ethical questions at the heart of the Elie Wiesel's Holocaust memoir Night.

The two Amherst College juniors are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in schools on the Navajo Reservation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

At the Window Rock

Reading mentors Kathryn Libby and Cait Scudder pose before the Window Rock in Window Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. The two Amherst College juniors are spending the week working for Reader To Reader in local schools.

After spending the weekend learning about Native-American history and culture with visits to Acoma Pueblo, Chaco Canyon and Canyon de Chelly, the mentors attended a Navajo language class at St. Michael Indian School in St. Michael, Arizona. They then led two groups of high school sophomores in an in-depth book discussion on Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program Celebrates Successful Year

Amherst College student reading mentors participating on the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program gathered for lunch at The Pub restaurant in Amherst to celebrate all their hard work doing online mentoring with students across the country.

“I can’t thank these students enough for all their hard work and dedication,” Reader To Reader executive director David Mazor said. “These exceptional students put in countless hours reading books and corresponding with high school and elementary school students. They had a lot of books to read and these were on top of their own demanding course loads. They provided invaluable support to the students in the program and were tremendous role models for academic achievement.

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program brings together children from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Think the Book is Going to Help Me Talk to My Dog

"Thank you for sending books to our school library. I feel so happy for all the great books, especially the book Extraordinary Girls!”

-Bianca

“Thank you for sending us the book The Chicken because I have chickens but they fight so I wanted to stop the chickens from fighting. I’m happy because my chickens will now be happy.”

-Ulises

“Thank you for sending the books How to talk to Your Dog because I have a dog but I do not know how to talk to it. I think the book is going to help me talk to my dog. Thank you for sending all these nice books!”

-Margarita

Smith Elementary School
Austin, TX

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Author Transports the Kid of Tomorrow to Today

A special thank you to award-winning author Amy Zuckerman for donating signed copies of her exciting new children’s book, 2030: A Day in the Life of Tomorrow's Kids (published by Dutton Juvenile).

Zuckerman will be participating as a guest author this fall in the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program, where she will answer elementary students’ questions in the online forum.

Curious about the future? Here's the Booklist review:

For any librarian who’s been stumped by a child’s request for a book about the future, not science fiction—the real future, this nonfiction picture book comes riding to the rescue, at least for a couple of decades. On each page or spread, a clearly written paragraph or two explains what’s different in the year 2030, including the school constructed from large Lego-like blocks and the wristwatch that beams your temperature, blood pressure, and feelings to your doctor’s office.

Following a boy through his day, colorful, somewhat cartoonlike paintings create a strong sense of action within a convincing future cityscape, peopled by smiling folks enjoying advanced technology. Kids will want to show their friends features such as the skateboard park with its magnetically hovering smart boards. Appended bibliography and acknowledgments sections note dozens of books, articles, reports, and individuals consulted regarding technological innovations. With jacket art that’s sure to draw readers, this book will easily find its audience. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan

Friday, May 1, 2009

Reader To Reader Book Drive Builds Bridge Between Schools

Dear Reader To Reader,

Last week we delivered the books from our Reader To Reader book drive.
Our students here at Rancho Pico Junior High in Stevenson Ranch, CA
were so generous in donating about 2,000 books to Washington
Elementary School in Compton, CA.

Last week I delivered the books along with our PAC president Linda Johnson to the school.

We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our student's participation and how welcoming the principal Ontrece Ellerbe and her staff were to receive
them. Both of us agreed to a partnership for next year that Rancho
Pico would collect books for them again in another Reader To Reader
book drive.

We learned that the town of Compton does not have any
book stores so it is very difficult for students to buy books. The
books we gave them will be given to the students for special events
through out the year and over the summer to keep and take home and
read. Ontrece considers reading the most important part of her
student's education.

I want to thank you again for this opportunity and we are looking
forward to a successful partnership with Reader To Reader and
Washington Elementary for years to come.

I am including a couple of pictures. The first one is a picture of
Rancho Pico students with the books. The next one is of me and
Ontrece Ellerbe.

Sincerely,

Janette Foote
Library Technician
Rancho Pico Junior
Stevenson Ranch, California

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Helping Mothers in Prison

Did you know that 85% of women that are incarcerated are mothers?

Reader To Reader is pleased to be helping the Prison Birth Project by supplying books on childbirth and childrearing.

The Prison Birth Project provides education, support and resources about pregnancy birth and mothering to incarcerated women. Their goal is to provide tools to help make empowering birth choices and provide continuous care through the pregnancy, birth and postpartum process. Groups meet bi-weekly at the Western Mass Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee Mass to discuss issues of pregnancy birth and parenting.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Someone must really care about us having cool books"

Dear Reader To Reader,

Kirby, our maintenance man, set the box onto the table in the office. "Whatever this is, it better be good." he said. He had just carried the huge package on foot the three blocks from the post office. I saw the return address was Reader To Reader and promised him that it would indeed be worth it.

"Worth it" and "good" don't begin to describe your donation. The full sets of Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Chronicles of Narnia are outstanding additions to our library and our students' lives. Students (and I!) have been wishing for these books since the first week of school in August. I had begun building the series, book by book, but that speed was not fast enough to please the voracious readers who were already done with book number two and pining after book number three. By completing all of these series, your donation did in one day what it would have taken months, if not years to do otherwise.

The students love the books. The first graders can't get enough of the easy animal books, fourth graders are loving the Series of Unfortunate Events, and second graders are desperately trying to read Harry Potter. One student had the fortune of watching me unpack the box and shelve the books. "Whoa!" She said, with a big grin. "Awesome. Somebody must really care about us having cool books."

Thank you for being that somebody who cares about my students and their learning.

Sincerely,

Shannon Brady
K-8 Literacy Coach
Little Wound School
Kyle, South Dakota

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Author Norton Juster Joins Mentoring Program

Children reading The Phantom Tollbooth in the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program got a special treat recently when author Norton Juster signed on to answer their questions.

Juster answered questions from a 5th grade girl about what was real and what was imaginary about the trip Milo takes in the book.

“It's sometimes hard to tell whether a trip is real or imaginary--Some of the best trips I've ever taken have been imaginary,” Juster explained. “The trip Milo goes on is about real things, real ideas and real thoughts, but it is imaginary since it is a story. Often times the best way to think about and understand real things is through stories--Milo is really traveling in his mind and in his imagination in this story. You can see how far you can go without ever leaving your room.”

We are so pleased to welcome Norton Juster as the first of our guest authors, He has been a long-time supporter of Reader To Reader. More guest authors will be participating in the coming months.

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program brings together children from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Three Cheers for Our Montessori School

Three cheers for the students at Our Montessori School in Yorktown,
New York, for their wonderful book donation.


Dear Reader to Reader,

At Our Montessori School we got families together for a "Book Swap".
We brought books in we were finished with, or had outgrown and shared them with other families. Any books that were not swapped were collected and boxed up so we could give them to you. The families each donated a little bit of money to cover shipping costs.

The senior class, 4-6th grade, was in charge of sorting and boxing the
books. We really hope the kids that get to read the books enjoy them.
Some of the stories are our favorites!

Thank you for creating your great charity, we think reading is fun and
important! We like to do projects about the books we have read.

Happy Reading!

The Senior Class of Our Montessori School
Yorktown, NY

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"It's great to know you can count on some people that can give us nice books."

The children at Wilbur Cross Elementary enjoyed their recent book delivery which is a part of Reader To Reader’s Bridgeport Literacy Initiative. The program brings books to four Bridgeport, Connecticut elementary schools and is funded in part by grants from the Xerox Corporation and the Pitney Bowes Employee Involvement Fund.

Here are some of the students’ comments about their books:

“I like that you gave us the books now we all could read and read for 20 minutes every day and night now my brother, my cousin and I could read because we like to read a lot now we can with new books so thanks."
--Carmen

"Thanks! Thanks for all the books you donated and all the books were great. Now I have a book to read to my little brother and sister. Thanks for the books.”
--Josh

“Thank you for the books you gave us Wilbur L. Cross students. I'm thankful because I love to read especially the Twilight saga. So again, thank you for giving us the books."
--Felicia

“I'm so glad there are organizations like yours that can give books to schools, and help give kids a sense of imagination.”
--Jazmine

"It's great to know you can count on some people that can give us nice books."
--Bryan

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Abundance of Good Will: Competing to Serve

By Joan Levitt
Published in The Voice of the Southwest

Students from two top colleges on the East Coast have been
engaged in a friendly rivalry for years. Now some students from
Amherst and others from Williams College find themselves shoulder to
shoulder in an unexpected endeavor: volunteering on the Navajo
Reservation. The lucky recipients of this generosity are St. Michael
Indian School students.

The flurry of volunteers and thriving literacy at St. Michael
are the product of the hard work of many people, but three individuals
stand out: Reader to Reader Founder and Executive Director David
Mazor; Director of the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program Sara Ackerman
Aoyama; and St. Michael alumnus and current Dartmouth junior Bethany
Hale. This week at St. Michael, the gifts of Mazor, Aoyama, and Hale
converged.

For several months, St. Michael High School students have
been receiving much needed new books from the non-profit charity
Reader to Reader, based out of Amherst College. Since 2000, Reader to
Reader has shipped over 2,000,000 books nationwide to under-resourced
schools. And as exciting as the arrival of new copies of Richard
Wright’s Black Boy and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony are to St.
Michael sophomores and seniors, the online mentorship provided by
Amherst students is equally welcome. Sara Ackerman Aoyama directs the
Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program, where St. Michael students discuss all
facets of literature with enthusiastic and committed college students.
Since St. Michael students logged on to the Reader to Reader online
discussion, reading focus has increased and expectations have risen.

Trust a good thing to spread by word of mouth. In late
March, at the invitation of St. Michael alum Bethany Hale, ten
students from Williams College in Massachusetts chose to spend their
Spring Break volunteering at St. Michael Indian School. Volunteer
Lyndsay Lau observed St. Michael sophomores chatting online with
Amherst mentors about Black Boy and asked how she could find out more
about the Reader to Reader program. Not surprisingly, she hopes to
convince her college to emulate the work of Mazor, Aoyama, and the
Amherst mentors!

Lau identified several aspects of the Reader to Reader
program that impressed her. “The fact that these college mentors were
recently in high school makes them very effective tutors. They
remember how it feels to be in high school but have also experienced
the level of work expected in college. Another thing that really
impressed me about the program was that it was a sustained program
that not only works with the high school students for one assignment
but actually follows the students throughout their high school
careers. I think that this is very important because it ensures that
the support of the program, and its lessons are not short-lived.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

He Stayed An Hour After Class Looking Through All The Books

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you so much for your donation of books to my classroom. Students have already checked out Flight and several other books that you included, and I know that these books are going to be read for years to come out here. One student was so excited that he stayed an hour after class looking through all the books. The three girls in the picture all ended up checking out two books each. I passed along word of Reader to Reader to several of my teacher friends, and it was included in the most recent TFA-South Dakota email blast. If you haven't already, you'll probably be getting more requests from this way.

Once again, thanks!

Noah Smith-Drelich
Crazy Horse School
Pine Ridge Reservation
Wanblee, SD

Friday, April 3, 2009

If you give us more books then I will be glad to read more books

Thank you for giving us some of your books. And if you give us more books then I will be glad to read more books that you send to us. It will be great if I read them so I am a good writer and you are a good sender. So we both have something in common and that's great. Also if you want to send me some books that I like then that will be awesome. And I will tell you what kind of books that I like and it's the books you sent us so thank you.

Mason
Pawtucket, RI

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We Are a Small, Rural, Community School

Dear Reader To Reader,

My name is Veronica Holyoke. I am the librarian at Wellington School, in Monticello, Maine. Our principal, Nancy Wright, has given us the generous donation of books from Reader To Reader. I can’t tell you how delighted I was to receive the diverse assortment of books. We are a Pre-K to grade 3 school and were able to add the books to our library. We are a small, rural, community school and are so appreciative of book donations from Reader To Reader. Thank you again for thinking of us. I know our students will be thrilled to explore these new titles.

Sincerely,

Veronica Holyoke
Librarian
Wellington School
Monticello, ME

Friday, March 27, 2009

$36,000 in Textbooks Heading to Mississippi


Reader To Reader is pleased to announce that Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi will be receiving an additional $36,000 worth of the textbook, Basic Mathematics.

The donation is on top of $6,000 worth of Basic Mathematics that were donated this past summer. The brand-new textbooks are being made available for donation by the author, Steve Slavin.

“This book is so good, and has gotten such a response from students and teachers that we want as many copies as we can get,” Prof. Demetria White says. “It’s very detailed and it a very good resource book. We want to thank Reader To Reader and Dr. Slavin for making this donation possible.”

Founded in 1869, Tougaloo College is a private, historically African-American, liberal arts institution, accessible to all persons regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion or creed.

Tougaloo College played a very active role during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. “Tougaloo College’s leadership, courage in opening its campus to the Freedom Riders and other Civil Rights workers and leaders, and its bravery in supporting a movement whose time had come, helped to change the economic, political and social fabric of the state of Mississippi and the nation.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Americans Enjoy Reading!

Dear Reader To Reader,

Reading the books you donated has been a big part of each day for the children at the Center for New Americans classroom!

We even have a 9-month-old boy and 2 one-year-old girls who really enjoy the infant and toddler books.

Parents have taken books home for their families too!

Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Kathleen Hasbrouck
Teacher
The Center for New Americans
Northampton, MA

(The Center for New Americans (CNA) is a community-based education and resource center that provides immigrants and refugees in Hampshire and Franklin Counties with education and resources to learn English, become involved members of their communities and obtain tools necessary for economic independence. CNA has locations in Amherst, Greenfield and Northampton. Services include English classes (ESOL), family literacy activities, computer-skills education, citizenship support, employment training, volunteer tutoring, and information and referral services.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Book Extravaganza in the Works!

The second annual Spring Book Extravaganza is coming soon!

Reader To Reader will be giving away 15,000 children’s books to school children in Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield and West Springfield, MA. The books are for children ages 4-8 and feature a wide assortment of traditional folktales from China.

Last year’s Spring Book Extravaganza was a big hit and featured books for grades 4-8. This year we are pleased to donate books for younger ages.

The books are made possible by Better Link Press, First Book, and program sponsors Comcast, Chicopee Savings Bank and Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP.

Friday, March 13, 2009

We weren't expecting another shipment!

Dear Reader To Reader,

We wanted to thank you again for all of the wonderful books you sent us. We weren't expecting another shipment, but were so happy when we saw the boxes of books!

Thank you again--we'll have lots of fun reading all of these new books.

Sincerely,

The Kids of Limestone Community School
Limestone, Maine

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Our School Has Not Been Able to Place an Order For Books in Years

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you so much! Our school has not been able to place an order for books in years. The students will be so happy with the new books.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rachel Bouhanda
Library Media Specialist
Garfield Elementary School
Revere, MA

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank You Eloy!

Eloy Shephard of Amherst College’s IT department stands in front of a wall of Dell computers he is refurbishing for Reader To Reader. The computers are being donated to Navajo Pine High School in Navajo, New Mexico, in order to build their new computer lab. We thank Eloy for all his hard work in getting the computers ready for donation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program Welcomes New School

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program is pleased to welcome St. Michael Indian High School to the online mentoring program. The school is located on the Navajo Reservation in Window, Rock, Arizona. The schools’ juniors and sophomores are reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of Butterflies, Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony as part of an online book discussion with Amherst College student reading mentors.

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program brings together elementary, middle school and high school students from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank You From Bass Elementary

Dear Reader To Reader,

My class and I really appreciate the books you sent us. The students are really enjoying the books. We think the books are very entertaining and we are very excited to read. We appreciate your kindness. Thank you so much!

A special thank you from all of us!

Sincerely,

Ms. Jackson Room 101, & Class
Bass Elementary
Chicago,IL

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bingo!

Dear Reader To Reader,

We received the books this afternoon. Thank you so much. These books will for the grades 1-5 students. We will use these books in support of the Bingo for Books night event that Memorial School will host in February. This event is sponsored by our PTO in support of promoting literacy and the importance and joy of reading. I will also use a portion of these books as incentive rewards for students in Excell with our MCAS challenge weekly program.

Again, thank you for your support with the donation the books.

Best wishes,

Jeff Udall, Principal
Memorial Elementary School
West Springfield, MA

Friday, February 13, 2009

Like a Kid at a Candy Store

Dear Reader To Reader,

Thank you so much for the most recent shipment of books to DeBerry School. Our school librarian is so gratified. He went through the boxes like a kid at a candy store. Most of the books went to the school library, but he did graciously allow us to keep some for classroom libraries, which have been given to the teachers.

Thank you so much. It makes such a difference to our students' reading habits and attitudes.

From Mary Luff, ELA CPDT
William N. Deberry Elementary
Springfield, MA

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program Grows in Second Year

We are extremely grateful to the Hiatt family for funding the second year of the Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program.

Named in memory of devoted literacy advocate Doris Hiatt, this innovative mentoring program brings together children from low-income backgrounds and college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum. The students not only receive positive feedback and academic support, but also much-needed role models.

In its first year the program focused on schools in Boston and Chicopee, MA. Our second year has added additional schools in Springfield, MA, and Arizona and Alabama.

Each school picks the titles they want their students to read, matching the books to their curriculum and students' interests. Popular books among the students include: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bud, Not Buddy, The Sisters Grimm, and The Outsiders.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Children Were Ecstatic!

Dear Reader To Reader,

The students and faculty at Robert M. Hughes Academy Charter Public School would like to thank you and your staff for your kind and generous donation. The children were ecstatic to have new books in their library. As the librarian, I have never seen such a surge of excitement in getting new books to read. Everyone at the school is so thankful for the wonderful program of Reader to Reader. Many of these students do not have access to many books, as our library is small. These books have already touched and brightened the lives of the students and we have Reader to Reader to thank.

From everyone here at the school, thank you!

Sincerely,

Amber O'Strander
RMH Reading Coach
Robert M. Hughes Academy Charter Public School
Springfield, MA