Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Their Way!

15,000 books and 11 computers are now on their way to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

The donation is the second in Reader to Reader’s multi-year Navajo Nation Library Book Drive, which has a goal of 100,000 books and 100 computers.

Today’s donation raises the current total to 30,000 books and 20 computers.

The books will not only build the resources at the Navajo Nation Library but also across the entire 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation. Books will be used in branch libraries in Kayenta and Ganado, at eight Boys & Girls Clubs across the reservation, and in local schools.

The next donation is scheduled for November and we are already packing our first boxes for that shipment.

A special thank you to David White of Exclusive Car Service for the use of his warehouse for storage and helping us load with his forklift. He saved us hours, and also our backs!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mentoring Program Student Visits Reader to Reader

St. Michael Indian School student Jaron Kee spent this past Sunday with Reader to Reader staff in Amherst. Jaron also met with Amherst College's Asst. Dean of Admission, Leykia Brill.

Jaron, an active participant in Reader to Reader’s Navajo Mentoring Program, is entering his senior year and will be working with Reader to Reader’s mentors as he prepares for college.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm so excited to share these titles with the students

Hello Reader to Reader,

I just wanted to thank you for all of the books you have donated to the P.E. Bowe School Library. I have been working as fast as I can to process as many books as possible. Again, I can't thank you and Reader to Reader enough! I'm so excited to share all of these current titles with the students come the fall.


Midge Leighton
Patrick E. Bowe School Library
Chicopee, MA

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thank You Julia Springer!

Our deepest thanks to Reader to Reader volunteer (and recent high school graduate) Julia Springer for raising over $1,800 dollars for the Beyond el Campo literacy project.

Beyond el Campo works together with local community members in rural Costa Rica in an effort to strengthen their access to books and literacy rate.

The project is building a much-needed public library in the coffee-farming village of Santa Cruz, employing literacy tutors and supplying books for summer reading camps.

Julia’s successful fundraiser, which was held at her home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, will help bring desperately needed resources that will benefit people of all ages in Costa Rica.

Three cheers for Julia!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Owning Books Raises Grades

The Medium Is the Medium

The New York Times
Published: July 8, 2010

Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year. They did this for three successive years.

Then the researchers, led by Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee, looked at those students’ test scores. They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. These students were less affected by the “summer slide” — the decline that especially afflicts lower-income students during the vacation months. In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school.

This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books. We already knew, from research in 27 countries, that kids who grow up in a home with 500 books stay in school longer and do better. This new study suggests that introducing books into homes that may not have them also produces significant educational gains.

Recently, Internet mavens got some bad news. Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy examined computer use among a half-million 5th through 8th graders in North Carolina. They found that the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores.

This study, following up on others, finds that broadband access is not necessarily good for kids and may be harmful to their academic performance. And this study used data from 2000 to 2005 before Twitter and Facebook took off.

These two studies feed into the debate that is now surrounding Nicholas Carr’s book, “The Shallows.” Carr argues that the Internet is leading to a short-attention-span culture. He cites a pile of research showing that the multidistraction, hyperlink world degrades people’s abilities to engage in deep thought or serious contemplation.

Carr’s argument has been challenged. His critics point to evidence that suggests that playing computer games and performing Internet searches actually improves a person’s ability to process information and focus attention. The Internet, they say, is a boon to schooling, not a threat.

But there was one interesting observation made by a philanthropist who gives books to disadvantaged kids. It’s not the physical presence of the books that produces the biggest impact, she suggested. It’s the change in the way the students see themselves as they build a home library. They see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.

The Internet-versus-books debate is conducted on the supposition that the medium is the message. But sometimes the medium is just the medium. What matters is the way people think about themselves while engaged in the two activities. A person who becomes a citizen of the literary world enters a hierarchical universe. There are classic works of literature at the top and beach reading at the bottom.

A person enters this world as a novice, and slowly studies the works of great writers and scholars. Readers immerse themselves in deep, alternative worlds and hope to gain some lasting wisdom. Respect is paid to the writers who transmit that wisdom.

A citizen of the Internet has a very different experience. The Internet smashes hierarchy and is not marked by deference. Maybe it would be different if it had been invented in Victorian England, but Internet culture is set in contemporary America. Internet culture is egalitarian. The young are more accomplished than the old. The new media is supposedly savvier than the old media. The dominant activity is free-wheeling, disrespectful, antiauthority disputation.

These different cultures foster different types of learning. The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”

But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.

Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

It’s better at distinguishing the important from the unimportant, and making the important more prestigious.

Perhaps that will change. Already, more “old-fashioned” outposts are opening up across the Web. It could be that the real debate will not be books versus the Internet but how to build an Internet counterculture that will better attract people to serious learning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

60 Boxes from West Warren

Caelyn Adams, librarian at the West Warren Library, West Warren, MA, drove down with 60 boxes of books from their book drive. We thank everyone at the library for the generous donation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lots of Computers!

A special thank you to Amherst College for the large donation of Dell computers that will be donated to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona and to our new overseas project in Ghana.