Monday, March 29, 2010

Bar Mitzvah Project Brings Mountain of Books

A special thank you to Benji Dukas of Teaneck, NJ, for the children’s books drive he ran as his Bar Mitzvah project.

Benji's dedicated collecting and sorting yielded 18 boxes of outstanding books that will benefit thousands of children.

“I wanted to help children who aren’t as fortunate as me be able to enjoy reading like I do,” Benji Dukas Said.

Benji is a 7th grade student at Yavneh Academy, a Jewish Day School, in Paramus, NJ.

In choosing his project his parents felt strongly that they wanted his Bar Mitzvah celebration to include a project that helped others, and as an avid reader, a book drive was a perfect fit for Benji. He wrote a letter, which we included in his invitations asking people to participate. A notice was included in the school’s email newsletter for a number of weeks, and he also used Facebook to get the word out. Benji sorted the books by age and eliminated the ones that were not in sufficiently good condition. The result was a terrific assortment of books in great condition.

Congratulations to Benji for the outstanding job he did, and the wonderful gift of books that he is bringing to so many children.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Highly Recommended!

Recently I had the pleasure of reading the book, In the Sun’s House by Kurt Caswell. This outstanding book is the personal account of Caswell’s year teaching elementary school in a small town on the Navajo reservation. A writer and an assistant professor of creative writing and literature in the Honors College at Texas Tech University, Caswell has written a profoundly moving and compelling work that takes you into a world that few outside the reservation have encountered.

In the Sun’s House is a book that is frank and heartfelt. It is filled with descriptions of his inadvertent cultural faux pas and the misunderstandings that come from an outsider’s immersion in an unexpectedly different culture. Through his eyes we see the setbacks and triumphs, and have an unsparing look at the consequences of severe poverty that calls into question the American mythos. Along the way, it reveals the growth of a talented young writer and teacher who has a personal journey much worth reading. It is highly recommended.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sharing the poems with his students

Dear Reader To Reader,

Recently you sent us a copy of the book Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust. We have an English teacher here who teaches a class on the Holocaust. He is really enjoying the book and sharing the poems with his students. Thank you again for the donation.


Ellen Stein, Librarian
Holyoke High School
Holyoke, MA

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Books, Thoughtfully Chosen

Dear Reader to Reader,

Thank you so much for the thoughtfully chosen and generous gift of books for our library. What a wonderful blessing for the children of the neighborhood. Thank you again so very much.


Johanna Raphael
7th Ward New Orleans

(Johanna Raphael runs a marvelous little doorfront library for the children in her neighborhood.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

37,000 Books for New Mexico Schools

"Changing the world" — New England organization donates $500,000 in books to GMCS

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
The Gallup Independent
(photo credit: Brian Leddy)

GALLUP, NM — Carla Clauschee believes she “just happened to be in a lucky place at the right time” a decade ago.

Ever since then, students at Navajo Pine High School in Navajo, N.M., have benefited from Clauschee’s lucky place and right timing. Now, students across McKinley County are also benefiting.

Ten years ago, Reader to Reader, Inc., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit located on the campus of Amherst College, contacted Clauschee, the librarian at Navajo Pine, about donating books to the school. In the years since, Navajo Pine has received more than $100,000 in books and $50,000 in computers from Reader to Reader, and some of its students have participated in mentoring and exchange programs with Amherst students that were arranged by Reader to Reader.

Last month, the organization shipped 37,000 books — worth $500,000 — to the Gallup McKinley County Schools for distribution to GMCS libraries and classrooms and even to other schools and libraries in the county. According to David Mazor, the founding executive director of Reader to Reader, the books were donated by Follett Educational Services.

“It is a wonderful gift to readers throughout McKinley County,” said Carol A. Sarath, GMCS’s library media coordinator who worked to facilitate the donation of the books, which involved recruiting and coordinating many local volunteers to unload, unpack, sort, stack, and distribute the books.

Opening possibilities

According to Clauschee, Mazor lives out the philosophy of “changing the world one book at a time.” Through his decade-long efforts to help her students, Clauschee believes Mazor has positively impacted the educational environment of Navajo Pine High School.

Mazor first contacted Navajo Pine, she explained, because it was on a list of needy U.S. schools. Since Reader to Reader’s first shipment of books, Mazor has tried to cater to Navajo Pine’s particular needs and help the school library keep up with the times, Clauschee said. Two areas Mazor has particularly helped, she said, is with the library’s Native American literature and its manga collection, a genre of comic-like literature that developed in Japan and is known for its graphic images.

“Our Native American literature collection blossomed,” Clauschee said of Mazor’s assistance. “Our manga collection is huge,” she added. “It’s one of the biggest in the state.”

“Where ‘Moby Dick’ was threatening,” she said, “manga lured them in.” Students then started reading more challenging literature after becoming manga fans, she explained.
In addition, Clauschee said Mazor went beyond just providing books to the Navajo Pine library.

“David realized that providing books did not mean they would be read,” she said. “He offered to find Navajo Pine students mentors.”

Using Amherst College as a resource, Mazor recruited Amherst students to act as academic mentors to Navajo Pine students, and the two groups would read and discuss the same literature using the collaborative Internet resource Wiki as their communication tool. That mentoring program eventually led to exchange program visits between the two campuses. When ten Navajo Pine students traveled to Amherst on an all-expenses-paid trip two years ago, they were able to tour the college, meet with authors, and attend sporting events.

“It was a trip to open their minds to possibilities,” Clauschee said.

Mazor has also visited Navajo Pine and presented unique awards to students who have excelled in the reading program. For example, Clauschee said, Mazor presented volleyballs — signed by the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team — to top reading students at Navajo Pine who played volleyball.

When contacted at his office on Friday, Mazor said Reader to Reader’s mission is to make sure schools have well-stocked libraries and classrooms. “This is a necessity not a luxury, and we fight every day to bring books and computers to schools that desperately need them,” he said. “Schools like Navajo Pine are at the heart of our mission.”

Clauschee said she believes Navajo Pine is “still reaping the benefits” of all the good things Mazor has done for the school over the last decade.

Positive impact

One of the benefits that spilled over to the rest of the school district is Reader to Reader’s recent shipment of the 37,000 books from Follett Educational Services.

Mazor explained that although Reader to Reader had “the option of donating these books to any school district in the country,” his nonprofit selected the GMCS due to its strong relationship with Clauschee and Navajo Pine.

“People have just been thrilled,” Sarath said of the district wide reaction to the book donation. “We just have teachers and librarians oohing and aahing,” she added.

According to Sarath, the donation has included a variety of dictionaries, classroom sets of classic novels taught in the district’s secondary schools, reference books, elementary picture books, and teacher guides. Because of the donation, Sarath said, every K-3 classroom in the district received a primary dictionary, and at Church Rock Academy, librarian Jennifer Brown was able to send home a student dictionary with each K-5 student at the school.

“To send it home with them was fantastic,” agreed Brown, who added that the students were excited to receive their own home edition and a number of parents have stopped by the school to express their appreciation.

In addition to offering the books to all GMCS schools, Sarath said she tried to contact every other school in the county to offer them books, and schools have taken her up on her offer. Those who haven’t, she added, are welcome to see what books are left.

One book that is plentiful, Sarath explained, is a paperback Spanish-English dictionary. She has already distributed about a thousand copies of the dictionary across the district and would be happy to pass along the rest to other organizations and schools that work with Spanish-speaking people or students. Sarath encouraged interested individuals to contact her assistant Ruth Sanchez.

Clauschee sees this donation of 37,000 books from Reader to Reader to be further evidence of how Mazor’s “positive world view” impacts others for good. “I think everyone can benefit from David Mazor’s gift,” she said.

© 2010 Gallup Independent

Monday, March 8, 2010

You are so faithful to John Essex, and we so need what you do

Dear Reader to Reader,

I love you!

We received lots of books from Reader to Reader in February. The library at John Essex School is beginning to look like a "real school's library." I thank God for you.

We are so grateful to you and all of your hard work. You are so faithful to John Essex, and we so need what you do. God bless you.

Thanks to you we received the books from Cedar Grove Belgium Middle School’s book drive. It was 24 boxes!

It's amazing to see what can happen when others show love. They are really some kind of fifth graders! They probably have no idea of what this means to us. I am going to make sure that they receive a thank you card from our students.

Thanks, David. I know if it were not for you, they would not have known about us. You are the greatest!

Take care, and I will keep in touch.

Thank you,

Loretta McCoy
John Essex School
Demopolis, AL

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Costa Rica Book Project Moves Forward

Reader to Reader's Cait Scudder met recently with community members of Santa Cruz, Costa Rica for their first planning session for the literacy project Beyond el Campo.

Beyond el Campo will help the rural village build a community library and also stock the town's small elementary school library.

Located in the mountains, the villagers of Santa Cruz struggle everyday to put food on the table, earning 10 dollars average daily income for the exhausting work of handpicking coffee beans. Their hope that their children can have higher paying jobs rests on improving their reading skills.

"I am so impressed by the passion and creativity being generated by the community towards the library project," Cait Scudder says. "Already, there are parents, community members, and teachers voicing their thoughts, and planning the next steps of the project. They are so excited at the mere thought of having access to a single book, let alone a library full-- most of the people attending these meetings have never been able to purchase a book before."

About Beyond el Campo:

With Beyond el Campo, Reader To Reader works together with severely under-resourced schools in rural Costa Rica in an effort to strengthen their educational resources, and teams with local community members to build community library resources in towns that have no other access to books.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Your impact upon school libraries has been tremendous

Dear Reader to Reader,

Wonderful things are happening all over our school district, Gallup-McKinley County Schools. Everyone is talking about Reader to Reader and your fantastic donation of 37,000 books which amount to half a million dollars to our school district.

This donation will give each of our schools 3,000+ books. Our district is the biggest school district in the lower United States. From Tohatchi, NM, to Gallup to Navajo, NM, people are “boggled” by the generosity and amazed by the number of books involved in your gift.

Librarians were lining up at the Gallup Media Center with boxes ready to pack and took away thousands of books…the books did not last long. It was a job to sort and pack pallets of books and by the end of the day the librarians were very tired. What an accomplishment!

The books you sent are now in the special education classes, Spanish classes, Literature classes and every library in the district.

This donation comes at a time when out state legislature is trimming the budget for education. Without your help our libraries would find it hard to make ends meet. As Navajo Pine High School, your program has helped to build our library. With your help Navajo Pine High School library has just been acclaimed by the National Accreditation Committee for 2009.

Your impact upon school libraries has been tremendous.

Thank you Reader to Reader.

Carla Clauschee
Navajo Pine High School
Navajo, NM