Friday, December 30, 2011

Hooray for Margaret Skoog!

We want to congratulate Margaret Skoog on her donations to Davis-Ramoth School in Selawik, Alaska.

Over the past year she donated 15 large boxes of school supplies and 23 boxes of books weighing 516.5 pounds!

The school supplies included pens and pencils, crayons, scissors, construction paper, current magazines, and even bandages for the school nurse box.

Come summer she plans to visit the tiny village that has a population of 772.

“We will be taking our suitcases full of school needs,” Margaret reports.

Way to go Margaret!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Xmas From Ghana

Dear Reader to Reader,

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

The Kasoa computers arrived a while back and have been put to good use.

The Akim Oda and Akim Awisa computers are currently being processed through customs in Accra, and should be getting to the schools shortly. We are all very appreciative of your help and generosity.

Thanks and Best Wishes.

Robert Baafi
Ghana Book Project
Kasoa, Akim Oda, and Akim Awisa, Ghana

(Reader to Reader is helping three schools in Ghana set up resource centers which include libraries and computer labs.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Poem for Reader to Reader

A special thank you to donor Dawn Murry wrote this wonderful poem about us that's perfect for the holidays!

Dear Reader to Reader,
You're really a leader
in matching up kids with a book!

Teen mothers, too,
get a foot up from you
and Chef Bill as they learn how to cook.

With poems invented
and scrapbooks intended
for wee ones these moms hold so dear;

the week is a blur,
word and food is the lure
and you'll do it all over next year!

From down in the basement
you ship out the tomes meant
for anyone needing a read.

Libraries and schools
get books and great tools
to help grow the minds that they feed.

The Navajo Nation
gets more than a ration
of books in a truck twice a year.

All over the globe,
wherever we rove,
the fruits of your labors are clear.

So thanks to you all,
the great and the small,
for all that you are and you do.

Book lovers, unite!
R to R is alright!
Use this gift for some books that are new.

(In honor of my friends, the Mozels)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Amelia Peabody Foundation Grant Boosts Springfield Mentoring Program

Reader to Reader has received a major grant from The Amelia Peabody Foundation in support of the Springfield Mentoring Program.

The program connects public school students in Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts with college reading mentors.

“We are very grateful for The Amelia Peabody Foundation’s support,” said Reader to Reader founder David Mazor. “The grant enables us to expand the mentoring program to Holyoke, Massachusetts, and we look forward to sparking the students’ imaginations and building their academic skills, as we have in Chicopee and Springfield.”

First launched in 2008, Reader to Reader’s mentoring programs help nonreader and reluctant readers become engaged readers through daily online correspondence with specially trained college reading mentors.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just in Time for the Holidays,15,000 Books for the Navajo Nation

Just in time for the holidays, 15,000 books, as well as, computers and toys are heading for the Navajo Nation.

The donation is the second that Reader to Reader has made this year to the Navajo nation Library and brings the 2011 total books donated to the Navajo Nation to over 50,000 books. 13,000 new children's books were donated to 33 schools in August.

Navajo Nation Library director Irving Nelson commented on the quality of the books. “The books we get from Reader to Reader are outstanding. This past year we were able to discard 17,000 old, worn-out books and replace them with the great books that Reader to Reader donates. There are books for every age, every reading level, and every interest.”

The books left Reader to Reader on Tuesday morning, and Irving Nelson will spend five days driving them back to Window Rock, Arizona. It is a long trip but definitely worth it says Nelson.

“I look forward to coming back in July for the next 15,000 books. These books not only help our library, but they also are used all over the Navajo Nation. We deliver them to Boys and Girls clubs, correctional facilities, and senior centers as well.”

The books came from lots of sources, including publishers and individual donors. The Bement School in Deerfield, Massachusetts collected over 2,000 children's books.

“The books took six months to collect, but only three hours to load thanks to a great team of hard-working volunteers,” notes Reader to Reader founder David Mazor.

The latest shipment also includes 40 boxes of books for area schools, and a batch of computers to replace antiquated computers at Navajo Pine Middle School in Navajo, New Mexico. The computers were donated through Reader to Reader’s computer donation program that supplies refurbished Dell computers to build computer labs and outfit classrooms.

Hundreds of books and donated toys will be given out to children in time for the holidays. In addition, over a thousand new children’s books were donated to Navajo Nation First Lady Martha Shelly. The First Lady travels across the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation to read to children and give out books to encourage literacy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Books Headed to the Himalayas!

We are busy packing our first six boxes of books for the library at the Himalayan Public School in Uttarkhand, India.

The school is a private, English-speaking school serving the rural poor. There are about 30 underpaid teachers, an excellent administration, and 525 wonderful children. The children at the Himalayan Public School generally come from rural, subsistence farming families earning less that $2 per day.

Our partner in the project, the Himalayan Education Foundation, has been working with the school for three years and reports on the great progress the school is making:

“When we started working with them in 2008, they had 8 grades and fewer than 20 books on one small shelf! Now they have 12 grades - but still very few books. In spite of this, they have recently won an award for Excellence from the State of Uttarkhand-- their students had the highest scores in the state on the standardized high school tests! They can do amazing things with very little.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Out Books at Family Literacy Day

Kat Libby and the rest of the Reader to Reader team gave out over 600 new children’s books at the Holyoke Children’s Museum for it’s first ever Family Literacy Day.

A crowd of children excitedly gathered around as they picked out the books that caught their eyes.

“The event was a huge success,” said Kat Libby, Reader to Reader’s Director of Special Programs. “There were lots and lots of smiles!”

We were pleased to join the adult literacy and early childhood providers, local businesses and other community-based organizations in the greater Holyoke area that partnered to conduct the event. The activities included free books, hands-on activities for families, carousel rides, take home resources and literacy prizes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Get an Autographed Copy of The Phantom Tollbooth!

Here is the perfect holiday gift for you or a friend! Author Norton Juster is signing copies of his children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth for anyone donating $200 or more to Reader to Reader.

“Reader to Reader is a great charity and I want to do all I can to help them,” says Juster. "I hope you will too."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the beloved children’s classic. The ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked "Which," Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the "impossible" mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

"I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began 'This is the best book ever.'"
--Anna Quindlen, The New York Times

Reader to Reader is a nonprofit literacy organization that has donated over $40 million dollars worth of books and computers across the U.S. and in 14 countries.

To get your copy just donate $200 or more on Reader to Reader’s crowdrise page. Please mention “Tollbooth” on the memo line.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bement Students Collect 2,000 Books!

A special thank you to the students at the Bement School in Deerfield, Massachusetts, for their book drive that collected over children’s 2,000 books.

Reader to Reader will donate the books to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

The library serves the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation. The books will bolster the library’s children section and will also be used for outreach across the reservation.

“I want to congratulate the children of Bement School for all their hard work,” said Reader to Reader founder David Mazor. “ They did an incredible job of collecting and sorting the books. These books will be enjoyed by so many children on the Navajo Nation.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Donates Book Prize to Reader to Reader!

Special thank you to author Jeanne Birdsall for the donation to Reader to Reader of her cash prize from her 2011 New England Book Award.

The award was give in honor of The Penderwicks at Point Mouette.

“We are grateful that Jeanne Birdsall has honored us in this way,” said David Mazor, founder of Reader to Reader. “I hope that children everywhere continue to discover her delightful books.”

Reviews of The Penderwicks at Point Mouette have been very positive:

“ If you’ve someone who’d like to be introduced into this world for the first time or someone who’s been reading the books straight through, it makes no difference. Both will enjoy this newest Penderwickian challenge. Both will be intrigued and pleased. Both will love it. You will too for that matter.”
– School Library Journal

Monday, November 14, 2011

El Arco Kids Get Lots of Books

It's always a fun day at Reader to Reader when groups take a field trip to visit us.

Kids from El Arco Iris, an after school program sponsored by Nueva Esperanza in Holyoke, Massachusetts, came to visit and picked out lots of books to read.

The organization encourages the youth of Holyoke to explore their creativity via after school programs, such as photography courses and tutoring.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Computers on the Way to Hurricane Damaged Library in Upper Jay, NY

Three Dell Optiplex computers are on their way to the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, New York.

The library lost their computers when Hurricane Irene hit at the end of August, and Reader to Reader pledged to replace them, as well as provide hundred of replacement children’s books.

Debbie Neil, who lives in Saranac Lake, New York, kindly volunteered to pick-up the computers and transport them back to Upper Jay. She also brought back a large number of books donated by Reader to Reader and the nearby Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roger Sutton Receives Norton Juster Award

Reader to Reader is pleased to announce that the Horn Book editor in chief Roger Sutton is the recipient of the 2011 Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy.

The award is given annually by Reader to Reader to a person who has played a
prominent role in encouraging literacy and reading enjoyment.

The award was created in 2008 and the first recipient was The Phantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster.

The award was renamed in his honor the following year.

Subsequent recipients were authors Jane Yolen in 2009 and Wendell Minor in 2010.

This year's award was presented to Roger Sutton before the hundreds of people attending the opening reception at the 22nd Annual Children's Book Illustration Exhibition.

“We are so pleased to honor Roger Sutton,” Reader to Reader founder David Mazor said. “He has played such an important role in helping people distinguish good children’s literature from bad. It is so important, because young reader’s get hooked on reading when they discover high quality storytelling and exceptional illustration.”

About this year’s recipient:

As the editor in chief of the Horn Book, Roger Sutton is only the seventh editor in chief since the magazine was founded in 1924. The Horn Book Magazine was created to “blow the horn for fine books for boys and girls.” And that is something it has done extraordinarily well. With an MA in library science from the University of Chicago, Sutton worked as a children's librarian for eight years before becoming a full-time book review editor. He has served as a judge for every major children's book award, and frequently teaches and speaks about children's books. His most recent book is A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature, which he co-edited with Martha Parravano.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Join Us November 6 for an Amazing, Fun, Free Event!

Join us Sunday, November 6 at the Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA, as Reader to Reader presents our annual Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy to Roger Sutton, editor of the Horn Book.

The award will presented at the opening reception for the 22nd Annual Children's Book Illustration Exhibition.

This free event features 50 of the world’s most famous illustrators, including Mo Willems, Jane Dyer, Diane DeGroat, Barry Moser and Wendell Minor.

Don’t miss special guest Jules Feiffer on the 50th anniversary of his classic The Phantom Tollbooth.

Reception 4:30-6:30pm.
Ceremony and entertainment begins at 5:30.

132 Main Street
Northampton, MA

Still not convinced? Here's 22 reasons to come to the 22nd Annual Illustration Exhibition.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night

All week Reader to Reader’s home at the Cadigan Center has been out of power due to the damaging snowstorm that brought down the electric wires to the building. That hasn’t stopped us from working! Here Bob Grenoble of New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, MA, uses a flashlight to pick out books for his history class.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reader to Reader Improves the Navajo Nation Library Collection

While visiting the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico, Reader to Reader founder David Mazor visited the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

The library serves the entire 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation, and Reader to Reader’s multi-year book drive has already donated over 45,000 books and 30 computers to improve their collection.

“We are so grateful for all that Reader to Reader has done for us,” says Navajo Nation Library director Irving Nelson. “It is a great partnership. We work together to fill our areas of need, and that has greatly increased our library usage. Thanks to Reader to Reader we replaced the fiction section and greatly boosted our children’s section. They provided tens of thousands of books for all our nonfiction areas, as well.”

"The Navajo Nation Library is such an important resource," says David Mazor, "There are no book stores in the area, so without the library people would have very limited access to books. Irving Nelson does an amazing job of running the library and we are so pleased to be working with him."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Expanding Literacy on the Navajo Nation

Reader to reader founder David Mazor is spending the week on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico.

The purpose of the trip is to continue to develop the Navajo Mentoring Program, which works with Navajo elementary, middle, and high school students through a special program that links them with college student reading mentors for online book discussions.

The program also includes college advising for the high school students.

The week-long visit includes meetings with teachers, administrators, library officials, and students of all ages. Their insights help Reader to Reader hone our programs to the needs of Navajo students.

In addition to the mentoring program, Reader to Reader has made a commitment to refurbish the libraries at Navajo Elementary School, Navajo Pine Middle School, and St. Michael Indian School.

Over the past decade Reader to Reader has donated over $1,000,000 of books and computers to support literacy across the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation.

(Navajo Elementary principal Peggy Hotchkiss in front of her school in Navajo, New Mexico)

Monday, October 24, 2011

15 Computers for Warren Elementary

Fifteen computers and over 800 books are heading to the Warren Community Elementary School in West Warren, Massachusetts.

“Thanks to this wonderful donation we will be able to put a computer in each one of our classrooms,” said Ann Marie Lake, reading coach at Warren Community Elementary school. "We are so grateful for all Reader to Reader has done for us."

Reader to Reader’s computer donation program provides refurbished Dell Optiplex GX620s desktop computers with flat screen monitors for use in classrooms, libraries, and for building computer labs in the U.S. and around the world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bags of Books!

Students from the Care Center visited Reader to Reader and had a fun time filling bags full of books for themselves and their children.

Picking out books from our 10,000 book inventory is always a great way to get hooked on reading.

The Care Center is an alternative education program located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, for pregnant and parenting teens who have dropped out of high school. We are pleased to support their work by donating books and school supplies, and through their participation in our Athena Interactive literacy Program.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Computers on the Way to Hurricane Damaged Library

Three desktop computers are on their way to the West Hartford Library in West Hartford, Vermont.

The library sustained major flood damage from Hurricane Irene at the end of August. Reader to Reader pledged to replace their computers through our computer donation program, which provides Dell Optiplex GX620 computers that have been refurbished and are ready to run.

They will be great for library patrons to surf the internet!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

David Mazor Honored as Literacy Champion

Boston -- The Massachusetts Literacy Foundation, in partnership with Verizon’s Check Into Literacy Program, has named David Mazor, the founder of Amherst-based literacy organization Reader to Reader, as one of the 10 recipients of the 2011 Massachusetts Literacy Champion Awards program.

The awards were created in 2003 to identify, publicly recognize and support Massachusetts literacy providers who have shown exceptional commitment and results through their work in literacy education.

“I am honored to accept this award and believe it is an honor that is shared by everyone in our organization,” Mazor said. “”I am so pleased that our work as literacy advocates that create innovative and effective programs has been recognized by the The Massachusetts Literacy Foundation. We look forward to working harder than ever to raise literacy rates in Massachusetts and across the globe.”

Unlike many singular awards programs, the Literacy Champions Awards recognize multiple individuals, practices and programs. Each year, up to ten Literacy Champions are chosen from a competitive nomination pool to represent the diverse fields of literacy education in Massachusetts. They are classroom teachers, administrators and volunteers who work in urban and rural areas throughout Massachusetts. Literacy Champions collaborate throughout the year, serve as ambassadors for The Massachusetts Literacy Foundation and share their work in literacy with peers across the commonwealth.

“The new Literacy Champions will join a network of more than 50 literacy professionals who are among the best practitioners in their field,” said Carol Anne Conroy, president of the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation. “This program enables us not only to recognize the important work of these wonderful people who are dedicated to helping others, but gives us a vehicle to work together to share best practices.”

Award Winners Receive:
- A $2500 grant for program development.
- A $1000 grant for professional development.
- Statewide recognition as a Massachusetts Literacy Champion.
- An opportunity to collaborate as a group and share ideas.

Through its Check Into Literacy program, Verizon gives wireline phone customers the opportunity to donate $1 a month to literacy programs when they pay their Verizon bill. In Massachusetts, proceeds raised through the program are donated to the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation to promote the Literacy Champions’ efforts in local communities. Literacy Champions each receive $3500 in grants to support their work. This year, more than $74,000 was donated to the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation.

“We are proud to partner with the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation to recognize the efforts of literacy professionals across the state,” said Donna Cupelo, region president of Verizon New England. “People in this field work tirelessly to ensure people have the literacy skills they need to meet their education, career and life goals. Thanks to their efforts, we are building stronger communities here in Massachusetts.”

In addition, Massachusetts Literacy Foundation also will use funds for, a new website that will showcase the Literacy Champions winning practices, including strategies for effective literacy programs. In addition, the work of Literacy Champions will be featured in the Boston Herald’s literacy inserts, Massachusetts Reads and Succeeds.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bringing Boxes Filled With Books!

Congratulations to Katie Longo for her very successful book drive for Reader to Reader’s Navajo Nation Library Book Drive.

The book drive benefits the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona. The only public library on the Navajo Nation, the library is the primary source of books for the 300,000 residents of the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation that covers parts of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

The Cumberland, Maine high school student collected and carefully sorted over 500 books for her community service project. She also drove them down from Maine to our headquarters in Amherst, Massachusetts.

A job well done!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reader to Reader on TV

Watch Reader to Reader founder and executive director, David Mazor, as he discusses our diverse range of programs on WWLP-TV's "Mass Appeal".

Click this link to see the segment.

Friday, September 16, 2011

On behalf of the Chicopee Public Schools I would like to thank you!

Dear Mr. Mazor,

On behalf of the Chicopee Public Schools I would like to thank you and Reader to Reader for the donation of over 25,000 books that were distributed to our students. Each of our 10 elementary Schools, and two middle schools had an opportunity to select books for their students. Books that were distributed to the Elementary Schools will be used for a wide variety of purposes. Many schools will be using multiple copies of books to enhance academic programs. On the first day of school many students will go home with a brand new book! During the holidays many students will also receive the gift of a book, all due to the generous donation made by your organization.

During our Title I Summer School Program, which serves over 1000 students, we hosted several ‘Bingo for Books’ events. This was a fun way to support attendance during our summer program. Students had an opportunity to interact in a social setting, while working on vocabulary activities. Each student that attended this event went home with one – two books. The success of this event can be directly attributed to your organization and making it possible for our students to expand their personal libraries.

Again, on behalf of the Chicopee Public Schools I would like to thank you for the donation you recently made.


Samuel A. Karlin, Principal
Belcher School
Chicopee, MA

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank you doesn’t begin to express my extreme gratitude!

Dear Reader to Reader,

Thank you doesn’t begin to express my extreme gratitude for the beautiful books you sent our library. You are truly a lifeline for us.


Lisa Gendreau, Librarian
Henry J. Winters Elementary
Pawtucket, RI

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School with 25,000 Books!

Thousands of children in Chicopee and Springfield, Massachusetts went back to school with 25,000 new children’s books.

The book donation was through Reader to Reader’s annual Book Extravaganza, which donates tens of thousands of books each year to schools in the Springfield area.

“There is nothing like owning a new book!” says Reader to Reader executive director, David Mazor. “We are very pleased to give these children something special to start their school year.”

The books are from leading authors, including R.L. Stine, Gary Paulsen, Jenny Dale and scientist Stephen Hawking.

“Reader to Reader has been a generous supporter of the Chicopee School District for many year,” says Belcher Elementary principal, Samuel Karlin. “We can always count on them for thousands of books that enhance our children’s lives and strengthen our programs. The wide variety of titles in this year's donation will mean that there is something for everybody.”

The annual Book Extravaganza was made possible by program sponsors Comcast, Scholastic Inc. and Chicopee Savings Bank. Grant support for this program included the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, and the Xeric Foundation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reader to Reader Pledges Computers for Library Damaged by Hurricane Irene

Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, New York, will be getting 6 computers from Reader to Reader’s computer donation program to replace those destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

The Hurricane caused massive flooding throughout upstate New York and Vermont, and Reader to Reader is donating books and computers to replace those lost in the worst natural disaster since the hurricane of 1938.

Hurricane Irene not only destroyed buildings but also washed out hundreds of roads, cutting communities off and making relief efforts difficult.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane Irene Book Drive

Reader to Reader has launched a book drive to help restock the libraries and schools damaged by Hurricane Irene.

Massive flooding in New York State and Vermont destroyed all or part of the collections at a number of libraries, including the children’s collections at the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, New York, and the West Hartford Public Library in West Hartford, Vermont. The Schoharie Free Library in Schoharie, New York lost everything but their nonfiction. The list is growing as libraries assess the damage from the worst hurricane to hit the region since 1938.

Reader to Reader’s past relief work includes over 2 million books donated to schools and libraries damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Books being collected for the Hurricane Irene book drive should in new or like-new condition.

Send to:

Reader to Reader
Hurricane Irene Book Drive
38 Woodside Avenue
Amherst, MA 01002

We will post information about other damaged libraries as we get it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Mexico Students Go Back to School With 13,000 New Children's Books

School children attending schools in the Gallup-McKinley County school district in New Mexico got a boost as they went back to school. Reader to Reader has donated 13,000 new children’s books to bolster the resources of area schools from leading authors, including R.L. Stine, Gary Paulsen, Jenny Dale and scientist Stephen Hawking.

The book donation was made possible through the generous support of Scholastic, Inc.’s ClassroomsCare program.

The donation brought an estimated $150,000 in new books for all grades from kindergarten to grade twelve.

“These books are going to schools in one of the poorest district in the country,” notes Reader to Reader executive director, David Mazor. “Most of the students that attend these schools are Navajo and this donation is part of our long-term commitment to boosting the reading level for Native-American students, which is among the nation’s lowest.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poetry Spoken Here

The teen mothers in the Athena Interactive Literacy Program had an exciting day at Northfire Studio recording their spoken word poetry.

“Taking the poetry out of the classroom and into a recording studio really brings the poetry to life for them,” said Reader to Reader executive director David Mazor.

“They have seen recording studios on MTV, so linking the poetry to the high-tech world of a professional studio creates a lot of excitement.”

Working with professional sound engineer Garrett Sawyer, the students not only recorded their poetry, but also got to see first-hand how sounds can be manipulated and edited to make a unique aural document.

In addition to the poetry, reggae music and beatboxing (a form of vocal percussion) filled the air.

Garrett Sawyer crafted a beatboxed soundtrack (performed by Reader to Reader’s own Kat Libby) to underscore the poetry. The energetic soundtrack made all the clearer the link between spoken word poetry and rap music.

2011 marks the third time Northfire Studio has hosted students in a Reader to Reader Program

“Northfire Studio is a world-class audio production facility that has produced a number of gold records, so we are extremely grateful for their donation of recording time for the Athena,” notes David Mazor. “This is their second year as part of the Athena Program and they also gave our students in the Navajo Mentoring Program an amazing experience when they visited in 2008.”

The week-long Athena Interactive Literacy Program brings together an exciting team of educators, writers, and artists, including noted writing teacher Peter Elbow, illustrious author Norton Juster, and Chef Bill Collins, a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts with over 15 years professional experience, including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. The students spend mornings exploring reading and writing in a variety of interesting settings, pick out hundreds of books for themselves and their children, develop family literacy materials, and spend their afternoons learning to cook healthy food for themselves and their children.

The program is a partnership between Reader to Reader and the Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Funding is provided by a grant from PeoplesBank and a generous donation from Mary Ann Cofrin.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Athena Students Get Lots and Lots of Books!

Everyday the teen mothers participating in the Athena Interactive Literacy Program go home with lots of books for themselves and their children.

“This program gets so many books into the community,” says the Care Center’s education director, Ana Rodriguez, who notes that these students come from homes in Holyoke and Springfield that are often devoid of books.

Each day the participating teen mothers spend time going through Reader to Reader’s inventory of 10,000 books, picking out titles that intrigue them. By the end of the week the mothers have taken home hundreds books that they not only read themselves and to their children, but also share with friends and family.

Launched in 2010, the Athena Interactive Literacy Program features a week-long workshop that works with pregnant and parenting teens in order to build their reading and writing skills, and to explore healthy eating and cooking.

The program is a partnership between Reader to Reader and The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Funding is provided by a grant from PeoplesBank and a generous donation from Mary Ann Cofrin.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chef Bill Helps Athena Students Explore the World of Healthy Cooking

Food and fun where on the menu as Chef Bill Collins helped the teen mothers attending Reader to Reader’s Athena Interactive Literacy Program explore healthy eating and cooking.

The students spend two hours each day learning cooking techniques ranging from omelets and French toast to low-fat versions of Chicken Alfredo.

“We are so grateful to have Chef Bill, says Reader to Reader executive director David Mazor. “Bill is key to the Athena Program’s success. He’s both an educator and an entertainer. He brings such a fun energy to each lesson and the students really connect with him, which makes more open for all the writing exercises we do all week.”

Chef Bill Collins is a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts with over 15 years professional experience, including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston

Launched in 2010, the Athena Interactive Literacy Program features a week-long workshop that works with pregnant and parenting teens in order to build their reading and writing skills, and to explore healthy eating and cooking.

The program is a partnership between Reader to Reader and The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Funding is provided by a grant from PeoplesBank and a generous donation from Mary Ann Cofrin.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Athena Mothers Explore Writing With Peter Elbow

Reader to Reader’s Athena Interactive Literacy Program kicked off its week-long workshop with a writing seminar from renowned writing teacher Peter Elbow. The author of Writing Without Teachers and Writing With Power, Elbow worked with the teen mothers attending the program on how to free up the writing process.

Launched in 2010, the Athena Interactive Literacy Program features a week-long workshop that works with pregnant and parenting teens in order to build their reading and writing skills, and to explore healthy eating and cooking. The program is a partnership between Reader to Reader and The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The young mothers in the program currently attend The Care Center where they are working on getting their G.E.D.s so they can attend college. Athena supplements their studies, giving them a dynamic week of exploration that moves beyond test taking to help them discover the joy of being a student.

The program brings together an exciting team of educators, writers, and artists, including noted writing teacher Peter Elbow, illustrious author Norton Juster, and Chef Bill Collins, a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts with over 15 years professional experience, including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. The students spend mornings exploring reading and writing in a variety of interesting settings, including recording poetry at a professional recording studio, and afternoons are dedicated to learning to cook healthy food for themselves and their children.

Funding is provided by a grant from PeoplesBank and a generous donation from Mary Ann Cofrin.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another School Joins Ghana Project

The Akim Awisa Junior Secondary School in Akim Awisa, Ghana, has joined Reader to Reader’s Ghana Project. The school will receive books and computers to set-up a computer lab.

The Ghana Project also serves the Eno Boanimah Memorial Academy, Kasoa, Ghana, and Akim Oda Secondary School, Akim Oda, Ghana.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Target Grant Funds DiscoverBooks Program

A big thank you to Target for grant funding of Reader to Reader’s new DiscoverBooks Program.

Launching this fall, the DiscoverBooks Program helps children discover the joy of books through twice-monthly family reading groups that work with teen mothers and their children. The groups help mothers learn the family literacy essentials necessary for their children to go to kindergarten with well-developed pre-literacy and early literacy skills, and allow young children to explore the world of books and develop essential pre-reading skills. In addition to receiving book donations, the mothers and children engage in other activities, such as modeling reading behavior, board book making, letter and number games, and parent and child story creation that add a multi-sensory experience to boost their literacy skills development.

Friday, August 5, 2011

17 Computers for Ghana

A truckload of 17 Dell Optiplex GX620 computers with flat-screen monitors will be heading to Ghana to build computer labs at the Eno Boanimah Memorial Academy, Kasoa, Ghana, and Akim Oda Secondary School, Akim Oda.

Reader to Reader’s computer donation program is helping both schools set up resource centers which includes libraries and computer labs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Albanian Orphanage Gets a Reading Space

(Reader to Reader’s Kathryn Libby, who received one of the Davis Foundation’s prestigious 100 Projects for Peace grants, reports on her work building a fully stocked library space at an orphanage in Albania.)

After a long trip across the Atlantic Ocean, I have finally arrived in Tirana, the capital of Albania. The books and games have survived their long trip in our luggage and are soon to be on their way to the Zyber Hallulli Children’s Home, the orphanage that Iris Aliaj and I will be working with this month.

Reading is not a favored activity among most people here in Albania; although book vendors lay out dozens of aging, yellowed texts there are few buyers, and even fewer stores for new books. Our goal is to get the children at the orphanage interested in reading, and in the wonderful healing (and of course,escapist!) power of books. 36 children are housed in the orphanage; all are attending school, but we’ve been granted their evening time to read Harry Potter 7 aloud and encourage reading in the older kids.

As you can see, we also take some time to play games with the younger kids: Tana likes to make up her own rules. She graciously let me win half of the games we played.

There couldn’t be a greater need for books here: we visited the Children’s Home for the first time this weekend and were shocked at what we found. Although the library houses a fair number of books, nearly all of them are over 50 years old and in extremely poor condition. I picked a few up, and my fingers turned black! The children told us even mice would be ashamed to read these books.

To top it off, each child is only permitted to check out one book. As someone who often had ten books at a time out of my public library growing up, this seems too much to bear. We are working on getting a more lenient policy in the library.

One child, Mario, trades vocabulary with me like kids in the 90s traded Pokemon cards. He’s been my major source of new words in Albanian, and I think my love of reading is rubbing off on him. Nje Qershorin (June 1st) is Children’s Day here in Albania, and Iris and I attended the celebration at the orphanage. You can see little Çeleste dancing so beautifully in this picture! Each child received a book of their own from us. I chose the children’s version of Frankenstein for Mario, which was no small read, yet he finished it in just one day! We took him to a nearby bookstore and he picked out the first book of both the Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter series. I am so delighted that at least one boy has really come to love reading.

There is so much potential for growth here, and I am delighted to be making it happen. More news to come as the progress continues!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Book donation enriches tribal library

By Lemanuel Loley
Navajo Times

A truckload of 15,000 books worth $100,000 arrived at the Navajo Nation Library on Monday morning.

The books were donated by Reader to Reader, a nonprofit literacy organization based in Amherst, Mass., that builds library and school resources across the United States and in 13 countries.

The load was personally delivered by Irving Nelson, library director, and assistant Everett Etsitty, who flew to Massachusetts on July 11 and spent the next day loading a 26-foot rental truck to carry the donation back to Arizona.

The drive back took four days, with Nelson and Etsitty alternating shifts on three 18-hour days and the final 12-hour drive.

It was the third time Nelson has made such a haul. The first donation, totaling 15,000 books, came in November 2009 and was followed by another 15,000 in July 2010. The new shipment brings the number of donated inventory to 45,000, valued at half a million dollars.

This brings the total number of volumes in the 14-year-old Navajo Nation Library to more than 75,000, including an oral history section that can be accessed by request.

The new shipment of books and DVDs includes a special collection of 16 boxes of Native American books and papers donated by two-time National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen, who wrote "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse."

The donation also contains the works of many highly regarded children's authors including Jane Yolen, Mo Willems, Norton Juster, Alice Schertle and Susan Pearson.

The latest shipment of books was chosen from a broad assortment of 200,000 books. Nelson worked closely with David Mazor, founder of Reader to Reader, to decide what books were to be donated. The collection mainly is made up of Native American literature including Native American history, fiction and poetry.

Mazor discovered the tribal library by accident during a trip to visit reservation school libraries in spring 2009. While visiting the Navajo Nation Museum, Mazor discovered that it also housed the tribe's central library.

Mazor met with Nelson and they discussed the library's need for books.

"I could see how Irving cared so passionately about the library," Mazor said in a telephone interview.

He learned that the tribal library serves 300,000 people a year and has limited funds to expand its offerings.

So Mazor committed his organization to helping out, and is doing so in a big way. Reader to Reader has pledged to donate 100,000 books in a multi-year book drive.

With the most recent donation, it is almost half way to that goal.

Previous Reader to Reader donations have already had a tremendous impact on the library, Nelson said. When the library first opened in 1997, it had 300 visitors a year and now averages 300 a day, he said.

"We replaced our entire fiction section thanks to Reader to Reader," notes Nelson.

The children's section checks out 300 books a day.

"We look forward to continue working with Reader to Reader," Nelson said.

"Everybody who enjoys reading will discover something they're interested in," Mazor said. "Even people who don't like to read could bring their kids to the library."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Read While U Wait Joins Reader to Reader

Reader to Reader is proud to announce the acquisition of the Read While U Wait Room project at the Department of Transitional Assistance and Dept. of Housing & Community Development in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The project will continue to be directed by Lisa Heyison, who has run the project for the last eleven years.

Read While U Wait provides books for all ages from newborn through high school.

The children and parents who come for support and assistance at the Department of Transitional Assistance in Roxbury are always thrilled when they receive a book as wait times can be anywhere from 1 to 6 hours. In the “Read While U Wait” Room children can play and be read to while they wait with their parents for either Emergency Housing or financial assistance for food.

The Room was originally set up by Horizons for Homeless Children, ReadBoston, and Massachusetts Literacy Coalition with lots of support by the Department of Transitional Assistance.

“I am so thrilled that Reader to Reader has adopted this project,” says Lisa Heyison. “They have already donated hundreds of wonderful children’s books that the children will love to read.”

“This is an important project and we look forward to providing a wealth of support that will include book donations, grant writing and fundraising,” says Reader to Reader executive director David Mazor. “I applaud Lisa for the tremendous dedication she has shown to making this room a great resource for over a decade. I am so glad to welcome her to our team.”

The books in the Read While U Wait Room also allow children to start their own libraries whether they are heading to a homeless shelter or to their own homes. Quite often, these children do not have any books they can call their own.

Support for Read While U Wait comes in part from OneUnited Bank.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computers on the Way to Kosovo

Reader to Reader has donated five computers to boost the resources at the Gjergj Fishta School in Pristina, Kosovo.

The computer donation is part of an ongoing project to equip the Fisnik Matoshi Library in order to create a library space where students feel welcome and are inspired to read. The goal is to fill the library with books in both Albanian and English, and provide the students with computers, English-language software, and school supplies.

“We are so grateful to Reader to Reader for making it possible for the students of Gjergj Fishta School to have computers in their library.” Says Atdhe Matoshi.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reader to Reader makes another massive donation of books to Navajo Nation

By Nick Grabbe
Daily Hampshire Gazette

AMHERST - A truck loaded with 15,000 donated books left Amherst Tuesday and is expected to arrive at the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Ariz., this Friday.

The books were collected by Reader to Reader, an Amherst organization that since 2002 has distributed at no cost an estimated 4.5 million volumes in the U.S. and 13 countries.

Speaking by phone from the road in southern Illinois Thursday, Library Director Irving Nelson said he and employee Everett Tsosie flew to Massachusetts on Monday and rented a 26-foot truck. This is the third truckload of 15,000 books that they have driven cross-country after David Mazor, the Reader to Reader executive director, collected them, he said.

"David is a tremendously important person to the Navajo Nation," he said. "We wouldn't be able to get these quality books from any other source."

The library, which is near the New Mexico border, serves a population of 300,000 people spread out over 26,000 square miles in three states, Nelson said. The library's budget goes almost exclusively to staff, and includes just $6,000 a year to buy books, he said.

Each trip to Amherst and back costs about $4,000, but the library is able to acquire high-quality books worth about $100,000 at no charge, Nelson said. The library has replaced its entire fiction collection with books from Reader to Reader, and has donated duplicate copies to boys and girls clubs and adult and youth detention centers in the Navajo Nation, he said.

Mazor made a special effort to find books that library users had requested: children's books, ones about sports, and novels by Stephen King. In addition, author and National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen, who knows one of Reader to Reader's board members, donated about 1,500 of his own books about Native American history and culture. They were included in this week's shipment.

Reader to Reader operates out of Amherst College's Cadigan Center on Woodside Avenue in Amherst. The organization stores about 10,000 books at a time there, and often gets walk-in donations, Mazor said.

Mazor and his volunteers also acquire books by scanning sales at homes and libraries, and increasingly they are working with major publishers such as Random House to acquire new copies, he said. Reader to Reader also gets donated books from organizations like Mystery Writers of America, he said.

Reader to Reader donated more than a million books to schools and libraries in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. Last September, it donated $50,000 worth of books to a school library in Shiprock, N.M., that was destroyed in a suspicious fire.

The organization has expanded beyond the U.S. borders and has donated books in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, India, Kosovo, Kenya, Ghana and other countries, Mazor said. It is interested in locating books in Creole for shipment to Haiti, he said.

He's also looking for history books, children's books, and volumes on health that are less than five years old, he said. He's a stickler for books in excellent condition.

For the shipment to the Navajo Nation, Reader to Reader went through 200,000 donated books before deciding on 15,000. It hopes to make another donation of 15,000 books in October and has pledged to donate a total of 100,000, Mazor said,

"David goes through every book to select books for this library," said Nelson. "And he's been to Window Rock several times, and recognizes the books in the library when he comes."

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