Thursday, December 27, 2012

Perhaps you can imagine how excited we are!

Dear Reader to Reader,

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your response to our request for help in brightening our children’s holiday season. I was especially taken with how quickly you responded, even personally delivering your generous donation of 168 books for our preschool children!

The reading component of our curriculum is evidence of the importance we place on literacy in preparing our children for transition into kindergarten and life-long learning. We view literacy as one of the most important programs that our Center provides for our children so perhaps you can imagine how excited we are that our children will have a new book this holiday season.


James C. Ward
Executive Director
Early Childhood Centers of Springfield
Springfield, MA

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hopi Mission School Robbed of 10 Laptop Computers

Reader to Reader Launches Fund Drive to Replace Stolen Computers

Thanksgiving Day was anything but a holiday for the Hopi Mission School in Kykotsmovi Village, Arizona, in the heart of the Hopi Nation. On that day someone broke in a door and stole the school’s ten laptop computers.

The school is a very small, without the necessary budget for everyday needs, let alone replacing ten computers.

Reader to Reader has launched a fund drive to replace the stolen laptops and also buy the school a locking laptop cart.

“We have already raised enough money to buy the first three laptops and we need everyone’s help to donate the rest,” David Mazor, executive director of Reader to Reader, said.

Online donations can be made at

“It’s wonderful to have a partner like Reader to Reader to help our children,” principal Thane Epefanio said. “100% of our children live under the poverty line. You help our children get into the 21st century. They come to our school to get educated in the technology that the rest of us live with on a daily basis. A third of our students don’t have water or power in their homes. A lot of people don’t realize that two hours from a major city there’s a third world country in America.”

Please help us replace Hopi Mission School's technology. No one deserves to lose learning opportunities and resources because of someone else's hurtful actions. Join our team, share with friends, and support the children of Hopi Mission School today.

Thank you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Big Brothers/Bigs Sisters Pays a Visit

It was a fun day for kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County as they came to Reader to Reader to pick out books.

We always love having kids visit us and get to choose the books they want to read.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DiscoverBooks integrates English language learning with family literacy

Reader to Reader's DiscoverBooks program is off to a great start in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

At Kelly and EN White Schools the program has a dual purpose: teaching English to Spanish-speaking parents, as well as family literacy with a special focus on parent involvement in the schools. This model has proved very beneficial!

The key to successful language learning is putting the new language skills to use in a real-life context, and this is exactly what the schools provide. Meanwhile parents learn and practice English through family literacy materials, as well as activities that promote positive parent involvement in the child's education and school.

In November the program sessions centered around preparing for parent teacher conferences. Parents learned English that they could use to role play parent-teacher dialogues. They reported that this practice helped boost their confidence in their ability to communicate with the teacher during the conferences!

Jessica Reyes, mother of four children at EN White, reports that "I like going to English class [at EN White] because I am learning how to relate to the teachers and how to understand my children's homework."

The program has also been innovative in putting in place parent classroom observations in the schools. This event was particularly powerful because most of the parents hadn't met their children's teachers before. The time spent in the classroom environment of the children was very beneficial for the parents.

Iris Toro, mother of a first grader at Kelly, said "I felt very comfortable seeing how my children were given the attention they need. It helped me understand my children and their teachers better."

Wanda Delgado, mother of seventh grade twins at Kelly, says "I felt comfortable, because I didn't know the teacher before and I saw my sons were relaxed. The experience was very positive for me personally."

Each school has a group of about 10 committed parents who come to the school twice a week for the class. The class now represents a community of parents that are engaged with each other and with the school-from taking the initiative to create a class snack rotation, to being more comfortable with the school space and staff, to volunteering at the school. Both schools have embraced the program.

Kelly School principal Jacqueline Glasheen says, "This program has really brought the parents into the fold of the school community. The visits to classrooms, preparation for conferences, as well as learning in the same building as their children has made a positive impact on the parents. It has been beneficial to the school and the families!"

We are proud and grateful for this strong start and look forward to continuing the program in the New Year.

DiscoverBooks is made possible by funding from the AEC Trust, the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation, the United Way, Target, and the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Computer Lab Unveiled in Ghana

With the help of Reader to Reader’s Computer Donation Program, a new computer lab has opened at the middle school in Saviefe-Deme, Ghana, as a part of Reader to Reader’s ongoing Ghana Project.

Residents of Saviefe-Deme were invited to tour the lab and on the day these photos were taken the whole town was going through it.

Reader to Reader’s Computer Donation program is run in partnership with Amherst College and provides refurbished Dell Optiplex computers and iMacs to schools and libraries across the United States and across the globe.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The quality of the books is stunning!

Dear Reader to Reader Team,

The students here could hardly walk by the books you sent without asking for one, two, or more. How could it be other-wise, as the selections you sent are so engaging! As our literacy scores are not tops, it is truly exciting to see. I think your mission's intentions hit the mark here at Pinehill, NM.

The quality of the books is stunning. I know many of my art books are difficult acquisitions, as they are so valuable and expensive.

The classics and many of the high caliber books will find a home in our library, along side the many hard-covered books you sent. Our librarian is ecstatic! As it is, she grabbed the Native American titles and immediately put them out in celebration of our Native American Heritage month.

The paperback selections are golden and will be used as rewards for good academic progress. I had to defend them from many of our teachers. THEY wanted copies! Personally, it was hard to pass by some of the science fiction titles.

Thank you for all the work you are doing for the world's marginalized students. I know you are making a huge different in the quality of life and futures of many. You deal in pleasure and potential in the best of bases; warm, concerned, and beautiful human intention.

Thank you so very much! So very, very much!

Deer Maitre
Visual Arts, K-12
Pine Hill Schools
Pine Hill, New Mexico

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Science Textbooks Head to Ghana Universities

A special thank you to Sinauer Associates, Inc. for their generous donation to Reader to Reader of over $20,000 worth of new science textbooks.

The textbooks are now heading to Ghana as part of Reader to Reader’s Ghana Book Project, where they will be used by students at Regent University of Science & Technology in Accra, and Cape Coast University in Cape Coast.

Sinauer Associates are publishers of college-level textbooks and educational multimedia in biology, psychology, neuroscience, and allied disciplines.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I always look forward to donations from Reader to Reader!

Dear Reader to Reader,

Thank you very much for the books that were donated to the Holyoke High School library yesterday.

I always look forward to donations from Reader to Reader. You know exactly what our students like to read.

These books have been entered into the library system and students have been checking them out.

Ellen M. Stein
Library Media Specialist Holyoke High School
Holyoke, MA

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anita Silvey Receives Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy

Reader to Reader is pleased to announce that Anita Silvey is the 2012 recipient of the Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy.

The award is given out annually by Reader to Reader to honor people that have had a significant impact on literacy.

Past award winners include Norton Juster, Jane Yolen, Wendell Minor and Roger Sutton.

The award was presented at the opening reception for the 23rd Annual Children's Illustration Exhibit, which was held on November 11 at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The award was presented by author Norton Juster (whom the award was renamed in honor of in 2009) and Reader to Reader founder David Mazor.

The author of 100 Best Books for Children and 500 Great Books for Teens, Anita Silvey has devoted 40 years to promoting books that will turn the young—and families—into readers. To do this she has appeared frequently on NPR, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, and radio programs in the United States and Canada to talk about books for children and teenagers. As Publisher's Weekly has said "It would be hard to find a more authoritative voice than Anita Silvey."

As publisher of children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Company from 1995-2001, she oversaw all the children’s book and young adult publishing for both the Houghton and Clarion lists, including such well-known authors and illustrators as H. A. and Margret Rey, Virginia Lee Burton, David Macaulay, Lois Lowry, Allen Say, David Wiesner, Karen Cushman, Linda Sue Park, and Chris Van Allsburg.

In a unique career in the children’s book field, Ms. Silvey has divided her time equally between publishing and evaluating children’s books. But her lifelong conviction that “only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young” forms the cornerstone of all of her work. Prior to her role as publisher, Ms. Silvey served for eleven years as Editor-in-Chief of The Horn Book Magazine, a publication many call “the Bible of children’s literature.” As Editor of Horn Book, she read several thousand books a year, hunting for those of exceptional quality that children return to again and again.

”We are very pleased to recognize Anita Silvey’s passion for children’s literature and the key role she has played in helping others identify books worth giving and reading to their children,” David Mazor said.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanks for the books!

We are very pleased to contribute books to Reading Village for their important work in Guatemala.

"Thanks for the books! Just in time for me to bring them with me to Guatemala on Friday."
--Linda Smith - Founder and Director, Reading Village

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Books & Computers Arrive at Navajo Nation!

After battling Hurricane Sandy in order to bring over 16,000 books and 12 computers donated by Reader to Reader to schools on the Navajo Nation, officials and volunteers from Reader to Reader and the Navajo Nation Library unloaded 400 boxes after completing the 5-day 2,400 mile journey on Monday.

The books and computers will be distributed to 16 schools on the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

In addition, thousands of books will be added to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona, and their branch library in Kayenta, Arizona.
Hundreds of books are also being donated to Martha Shelley, First Lady of the Navajo Nation, for her outreach work across the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation.

Reader to Reader founder David Mazor flew in for the unloading.

“I want to commend Irving Nelson for all his hard work. He is quite the hero. He drove through 1,000 miles of hurricane with the truck blowing all over the road, and encountered snow squalls and waves of driving rain, yet nothing stopped him.”

To date the Navajo Nation Book Drive, a partnership between Reader to Reader and the Navajo Nation Library, has delivered over 65,000 books and 60 computers to schools and libraries on the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Navajo Librarian Battles Hurricane Sandy to Bring Books Back to Navajo Nation

With the winds of Hurricane Sandy hitting gusts of 50-miles-per-hour, Irving Nelson, Program Supervisor for the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, drove a 26-foot truck loaded with 7-tons of books through Massachusetts and Pennsylvania Monday.

Nelson is making his second trip this year to bring back over 16,000 books and a dozen computers that will be distributed to 16 schools on the Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation.

A similar trip in July brought back 15,000 books and 21 computers.

The books and computers are being donated by Reader to Reader, a Massachusetts literacy organization that has donated over $1,000,000 worth of books to the Navajo Nation in the past ten years.

A team of Reader to Reader employees and volunteers raced to load the truck, trying to beat the storm as it moved up the eastern seaboard.

“Irving Nelson is one of a kind,” said Reader to Reader founder David Mazor.” He’s very dedicated and he’s even willing to drive through a hurricane if it benefits the Navajo and Hopi people.”

It's not the first praise Nelson has received. In 2009 he received the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian's Prism Award.

The books are expected to arrive in Window Rock, Arizona on Friday, November 2, after a 2,300 mile journey, and will be distributed to schools the following week.

Some of the schools receiving books include St. Michael Indian School, Alta Vista Elementary, Jeddito School, Navajo Pine High School, Window Rock High School, Pine Hill School, First Mesa Elementary, Hopi Mission School, Second Mesa Elementary School, Moencopi Day School, Pine Hill School, Gallup Catholic School, Keans Canyon Elementary School, St. Bonaventure Mission Indian School, Valley High School, and Hopi Jr./Sr. High School.

In addition to the list of schools, books will make their way on to the shelves of boys and girls clubs, senior centers, the Navajo Nation Library and their branch library in Kayenta, the Thoreau Community Center, and will be given out by the First Lady of the Navajo Nation, Martha Shelley, in her outreach to Navajo children.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Parents' Resource Center Gets Furnitures and Computers

New furniture and computers are just some of the things Reader to Reader is helping bring to the new Parents’ Resource Center at E.N. White Elementary School in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The furniture was generously donated by Conklin Office Furniture and the 4 Dell computers were donated through Reader to Reader's Computer Donation Program.

The Center is home to our DiscoverBooks Program that works with parents. The program teaches them literacy skills that will enable them to better support their children in school. The program also teaches English to non-English-speaking parents that have children attending the school.

DiscoverBooks is made possible by funding from the United Way, Target, the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council, the AEC Trust, and the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WorldRead Club Grows Literacy on Navajo Nation

Students at Navajo Pine High School in Navajo, New Mexico have established their own WorldRead club to help boost literacy on the Navajo Nation.

 The club is being overseen by Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator, Ophelia Hu.

WorldRead clubs are Reader to Reader’s volunteer student organizations for both high school and college students. Participants read to children and give out hundreds of books donated by Reader to Reader. They also boost their own reading skills through a book discussion group, and work on other literacy projects that they design and implement.

For information on establishing a WorldRead club at your high school or college, please write to

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bridging the Gap

Reader to Reader is teaming with the Salvation Army's Bridging the Gap program in Holyoke, Massachusetts to bring books into their classrooms.

Bridging the Gap works with at-risk boys and girls ages 12-17. This twelve-week program develops life skills and works with participants to improve behavior, reduce criminal activity, provide mentoring and positive role models, improve learning skills and work towards a successful adulthood.

Bridging the Gap has just begun its work in Holyoke, and currently serves teens from the city as well as Granby, South Hadley and Chicopee.

Three boxes of books were brought over last week, and more are on their way.

In addition to books, our innovative mentoring program (Read, Think, Share) will be integrated into the program at Holyoke to improve the students' interest and ability in reading and to provide college student role models.

Together, we hope to show these teens the joy of reading and the possibility of their own future. We're looking forward to a very fruitful partnership!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On the Job! On the Navajo Nation!

Ophelia Hu, Reader to Reader’s new Navajo Outreach Coordinator, has settled into her new job living and working on the Navajo Nation.

Ophelia is based at St. Michael Indian School in St. Michaels, Arizona, and from there she does outreach to Navajo Nation schools in western Arizona and eastern New Mexico.

A 2012 graduate of Amherst College, Ophelia is already teaching ACT test preparation classes at two schools and helping run Reader to Reader’s Navajo Mentoring Program and College Knowledge Program. The latter program is a partnership between Reader to Reader and Dartmouth College.

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Books Fill a Need in Thoreau

Ophelia Hu, Reader to Reader’s new Navajo Outreach Coordinator, visited the Thoreau Community Center in Thoreau, NM.

Reader to Reader conducted a needs assessment during our visit in May and Ophelia was delighted to see the more than 1,000 books we donated are now on the shelves.

The community center was the brain child of a Juliana Ko, who moved to the small town to teach 8th grade math as part of a two-year service commitment. She spotted an abandoned building and went about securing it as a gathering place for local teens. A gathering place was desperately needed to combat the hopelessness that encouraged gang activity. Even worse, the town bore the weight of 15 teen suicides and 90 reported attempts.

Ophelia is spending the year living and working on the Navajo Nation where she will work on the expansion of our Navajo Mentoring Program and College Knowledge Program.

Funding for the Navajo Outreach Coordinator position comes in part from the Hiatt Family, the Fordham Street Foundation, John & Elizabeth Armstrong, and Lynn & Jean Miller.

Friday, September 21, 2012

College Students Gather for Launch of Fall Mentoring Program

More than 50 college student reading mentors gathered for the launch of the fall 2012 Read, Think, Share Mentoring Program.

Throughout the year college students will be reading books with hundreds of school children grades 5-10 and corresponding daily online.

This year marks the sixth year of the mentoring program, which works with low-income elementary, middle school, and high school students in Arizona, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Reader to Reader Creates Navajo Outreach Coordinator Position

We are pleased to announce that Ophelia Hu has joined Reader to Reader's staff as our new Navajo Outreach Coordinator.

Ophelia is a 2012 graduate of Amherst College. She will be based full-time on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, working with schools in Arizona and New Mexico, helping them take advantage of our Mentoring program and College Knowledge Program.

In addition, she will lead ACT prep workshops and assist the St. Michael Indian School in cataloguing the 2,000 books we recently donated to their school library.

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator is funded through the generous support of the Fordham Street Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, and Jean and Lynn Miller.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thousands of Books for "Read While U Wait"

We are pleased to report that thousands of books are being given out each year at Reader to Reader’s “Read While U Wait” Room project at the Department of Transitional Assistance and Dept. of Housing & Community Development in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The project is directed by volunteer Lisa Heyison, who has done an incredible job of running 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.

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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dennis Quinn Joins Reader to Reader Staff

Reader to Reader is pleased to welcome Dennis Quinn as our new Mentoring Programs Director. Dennis was first introduced to Reader to Reader when, as an English teacher in an urban school, he was invited to pilot the Read, Think, Share mentoring program in his classroom. Three years of first-hand experience convinced him that the program was a replicable recipe for success. In addition to his classroom experience, Dennis has experience in marketing and public relations. He is a graduate of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland and Loyola University. We look forward to working with Dennis to expand our mentoring programs to even more schools across the country.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Navajo Nation and New Mexico to sign ‘MOU’ for Education

Navajo Post
Aug 14 | by: NP Field Reporter/NM

ALBUQUERQUE – On Tuesday, the NM Governor, Susana Martinez visited Mesa View Elementary School in Grants and Indian Hills Elementary School in Gallup to distribute reading books to incoming first graders and read to students.

Susana Martinez said, while addressing the crowd, “ With this MOU we send a clear message to the Native American student, you count you are important.. and most of all we believe in you”

President Ben Shelly also spoke and said, “ Our culture is our identity to the world and our language is our fingerprint” and “ I am happy that Governor Martinez and (NM Education) Secretary Skandera have taken on the vision of our people”

The Governor also signed a memorandum of understanding between New Mexico Public Education Department and the Navajo Nation, which will allow for data sharing between the two governments with the aim of improving education results for Navajo students.

On Monday, Martinez distributed books and read to students in Albuquerque and Belen. The Governor Communication director said, she is stressing the importance of reading during and after school, and the books are designed to help students have something to read at home with their family or friends in an effort to overcome the effects of the “summer slide” – skills lost while kids are out of the classroom during the summer months.

In June, Governor Martinez announced that the state had purchased over 30,000 reading books to be distributed to every incoming first grade student in New Mexico.

The Navajo Nation in general has been getting donated books from various non profit organizations, For the past three years, Navajo Nation Libraries have been flying across the country to Massachusetts to pick-up book donations from Reader to Reader, a Massachusetts literacy organization that has donated over $1 million in books and computers to schools and libraries on the Navajo Nation. The twice a year trips brought back over 30,000 books and 42 Dell computers this past year alone.

The proposed Navajo Nation annual budget for 2012-2013 will slash theses trips from two to one, and will also reduce the size of the truck in the sole remaining shipment from 26-foot to only 17-foot. The change in truck size will cut that shipment in half due to the lower weight limit of the truck.

Reader to Reader founder David Mazor said this budget reduction will mean 25,000 fewer books will be donated by his organization this coming year to meet the needs of the children and adults on the Navajo Nation, “We will be unable to send thousands of books given out by the First Lady Martha Shelly in her important literacy work, thousands of new books to fill the shelves of the Navajo Nation Library and their branch library in Kayenta, and also the thousands of books for schools, chapter houses, correctional facilities, community centers, boys & girls clubs, and substance abuse centers.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DiscoverBooks Summer Program Makes Summer Literacy Fun & Healthy

Our DiscoverBooks summer family literacy camp came to a close last week, and we couldn’t be more proud of our families. After six weeks of learning, reading, and fun we had a celebration of all their hard work. Congratulations, everyone!

DiscoverBooks works with families and young parents to help their children become better readers from an early age. As parents discover the aspirations they have for their children and learn how to encourage their children to succeed, they also learn of the responsibility they have to continue their own education and the amazing opportunity they have to be their child's first teacher.

The families worked with Katy Moonan, Reader to Reader’s family literacy coordinator, to learn about why learning together was important, how parents could help kids be better readers and learners, and about the 7 habits of effective readers. Each habit was teamed with a set of books and activities, centered on the theme of the week. We made inferences from poetry, visualized the text of “To Be an Artist,” and connected with “Who Belongs Here?” The kids and parents loved being visited by zoo animals, going to the farm, and being read to by local authors.

Our good friend Chef Bill Collins came to each school to talk about healthy snacks, alternatives to unhealthy ingredients, and cooking techniques that made family favorites healthier. He also showed the families how to make perfect devilled eggs, complete with paprika garnish. (Yum!)

To see more photos of our program, check out the album on our Facebook page at

This branch of DiscoverBooks was run in partnership with the Holyoke Public Schools, Enchanted Circle Theater, Marcela Kelly Elementary School and EN White Elementary School.

The program was made possible by funding from the United Way, Target, the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council, the AEC Trust, and the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Maine Book Project Receives Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation

The Maine Book Project will continue to grow this year thanks to the generous support of the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

The foundation supports projects that address the underlying causes of social and environmental problems, as well as those that address the consequences. Literacy is one of their priorities.

Last year, Reader to Reader donated over 7,750 books to schools in York and Cumberland Counties. These books were worth over $87,000! The Maine Book Project has close relationships with schools in Alfred, the Berwicks, and Shapleigh, and has previously supported schools in Eagle Lake, Monticello, Caswell, Lubec and Woodland among others. This year we aim to expand into additional towns in York County and Somerset Counties, as well as deepen our relationship with schools that serve Native American populations.

This grant was received as part of an application process. We are very grateful to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation for their support!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chef Bill Brings Smiles to DiscoverBooks

Chef Bill Collins visited Reader to Reader ‘s DiscoverBooks Program at Kelley Elementary in Holyoke, MA. The energetic chef helped the participants explore healthy eating and cooking.

The 5-week summer program for parents and children combines family literacy activities with a host of hands on activities and is run by Reader to Reader's new family literacy coordinator, Katy Moonan.

In addition to Chef Bill, the program’s partners include the Holyoke Public Schools, the Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, and the Enchanted Circle Theatre.

The DiscoverBooks Program is funded in part by a grant from Mary Ann Cofrin and the AEC Trust, and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.

Funding for Chef Bill Collins is provided through a partnership with the Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, one of nine collaboratives being funded by the Kellogg Foundation’s Food and Community program which focuses on creating healthy places where all children thrive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Computers for E.N. White School

Hilary Russell, principal at E.N. White Elementary in Holyoke, MA, surveys her four refurbished Dell Optiplex computers donated by Reader to Reader.

The computers will be used as part of the school’s new Family Resource Center. The center will host Reader to Reader’s DiscoverBooks Program beginning this fall. New family literacy coordinator, Katie Moonan, will work with parents and young children to develop literacy strategies that prepare their children for kindergarten.

The DiscoverBooks Program is funded in part by a grant from Mary Ann Cofrin and the AEC Trust, and the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Guest Essay: Class Lite

By Robert Erwin
Guest Essayist

Few of the viewers enthralled by the teledrama Downton Abbey will come right out in favor of exploitation and domination. Their reluctance could cause uneasiness, because much of the story to which they are riveted has to do with the relationships between masters and servants in class-bound Edwardian England.

Not to worry. Clever scriptwriters sprinkle signs throughout Downton Abbey that the upper-class characters care about their servants and have at least a rudimentary sense of fairness. And the scriptwriters humanize the lower-class characters with plenty of intrigue, romance, and ambition. Furthermore, they omit or skirt around a good deal of drudgery. No one is emptying chamber pots, blacking boots, getting up at dawn to light fires.

Yet if the aim had been to document rather than entertain, daily life and routine attitudes in the great house would look rather different. Even ordinary objects such as books and apparently innocent activities such as reading would be saturated with class discrimination.

In the real world from which Downton Abbey was extracted, servants were expected to dust books but not read them. Because of the menial tasks in which they were engaged, their hands might be soiled and in any case were thought very likely to be coarse.

A hundred years or so before the period in which Downton Abbey is set, there had been more or less practical reasons for the dust-but-don’t-touch rule. Relatively rare and expensive, bound in leather and printed on heavily taxed rag paper, a book was classified as an owner’s asset or investment. Because schooling for common people was skimpy, most servants in the earlier period had no use for books except damaged or discarded ones from which paper might be taken to line pie pans or wipe spills.

With the spread of schooling and the coming of wood-¬pulp paper and mechanical presses, there was still the matter of privilege—important enough to keep the rule in force. From the master’s viewpoint a servant leafing through a book was shirking his or her rightful labor. Meddling with a gentleman’s books was regarded as offensive as eavesdropping on his conversations. If servants read books of their own in their little rooms at night, the master and mistress assumed they were probably reading trashy adventure stories and romances. If any such literature percolated upward to younger members of an aristocratic family, those youngsters would be told that reading of that sort was as bad as associating with low, vulgar companions.

If you want to pass time scoping out the clothes of yesteryear and seeing pretty good actors simulate flirtation, anguish, etc., fine. Go on watching Downton Abbey as you have been. If, however, you want to get a fuller sense of the time and place to which Downton Abbey refers, you might start by thinking about objects and protocol you hardly noticed before.

Books certainly. (If any are shown—the British landed gentry were not known for intellectual zeal.)

That rug at the bottom of the screen. Was it looted from some corner of the Empire? Somebody on staff has to brush it every day before dinner.

Those bedsheets that flash by in sickbed scenes. Were they made with cotton grown by American sharecroppers? Somebody washes them by hand in a tub.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Amherst group Reader to Reader sends more books, computers to Navajo Nation

Staff Writer
Daily Hampshire Gazette

Thursday, July 12, 2012

AMHERST - A truck loaded with 15,000 donated books and 21 personal computers left a Holyoke warehouse Monday and is expected to arrive at the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Ariz., on Friday.

From there, the books will be distributed to libraries, schools, community centers and jails over the 26,000-square-mile area with a population of 300,000 in three states. The computers are destined for a school in Thoreau, N.M.

This is the sixth time that library director Irving Nelson has come to the Pioneer Valley to pick up books collected by Reader to Reader of Amherst. Since 2003, the organization has collected and donated 5 million books, worth about $50 million, and about a fifth of them have gone to the Navajo Nation, said David Mazor, the founder and executive director.

"We've made a commitment to these communities to bolster their resources in a substantial way," he said. Reader to Reader has focused on the Navajo Nation because tests of their children's reading ability are substantially below the national average, he said.

It costs the Navajo Nation about $4,000 each time Nelson flies to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., rents a 26-foot truck, loads it up and drives back to the Southwest. But Mazor estimated the value of the books and computers on this trip at $250,000.

Reader to Reader gets books from publishers, donations and library sales and sometimes buys them, Mazor said. About 40 percent of the 15,000 books on their way to the Navajo Nation are new, while the used computers were donated by Amherst College and have new software in them, he said. Most Navajos do not have computers in their homes, he said.

Mazor visited the Navajo Nation Library last spring to compile a list of books that would strengthen the collection, he said. Reader to Reader spent $2,000 on specific titles that it couldn't acquire by donation, he said.

Nelson was in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday morning with Everett Etsitty, a library employee who is helping him drive the truck. Nelson said Mazor has had a big impact on literacy efforts in the Navajo Nation.

"As we're flying over the country, I looked down from the plane and thought how there are millions of people out there, and David is one of those tiny specks down there, but out on the Navajo Nation he's the Jolly Green Giant that towers over the reservation," Nelson said.

Nelson and Etsitty were heading for Washington, D.C., where they expected to pick up more books at the National Museum of the American Indian on Tuesday.

Reader to Reader has its offices at the Cadigan Center for Religious Life at Amherst College, and stores about 10,000 books there. It often gets walk-in donations, Mazor said.

"I get calls almost every day from someone who wants to bring books to us, from all over the area and the country," he said.

Reader to Reader donated more than a million books to schools and libraries in New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. This year, it has donated books to Ghana and Costa Rica, and also to schools in Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee.

Nelson said Mazor is helping the Navajo Nation at a basic level because reading is the foundation of education.

"We're so fortunate that we're working with him, and it's improving our library tremendously," he said.

Daily Hampshire Gazette © 2012. All rights reserved

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

15,000 Books, Computers, on the Way to Navajo Nation

Seven months of book collecting, including hundreds of hours sorting and packing boxes, came to a conclusion with a 3-hour frenzy of loading, as the latest shipment of books headed off to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.

The shipment of 15,000 books and 21 computers will benefit libraries, schools, community centers, senior centers, and correctional facilities all across the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation.

“We are so excited here at the high school we can hardly contain ourselves,” said Susan Clement, principal of St. Michael Indian High School in St. Michaels, Arizona. She adds that she is expanding her school library into an additional room in anticipation of the 69 boxes of books and 5 computers that will be coming from Reader to Reader for the library. An additional 17 computers will be used to build a new computer lab for the school.

The fourth shipment in Reader to Reader’s Navajo Nation Book Drive, the donation brings the total donation to 60,000 books to date. Reader to Reader’s ultimate goal is 100,000 books.

Irving Nelson, the director of the Navajo Nation Library, flew to Hartford, Connecticut and rented a truck in order to transport the books on their 5-day journey to the Navajo Nation. His 12-hour days of driving are shared with library employee Everett Tsosie.

“We are so pleased to work in partnership with the Navajo Nation Library in order to bring this valuable resource to the people of the Navajo Nation.” Said David Mazor, Reader to Reader’s founder. “This donation has a value of over $200,000 and working together we have been able to provide this rich resource very economically.”

Based in Amherst, Reader to Reader is a global literacy organization that has donated 5 million books across the United States and in 14 countries.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Norton Juster Shares Art of Storytelling at Athena Program

Norton Juster, author of the children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth, shared the art of story writing with the teen mothers participating in Reader to Reader’s Athena Interactive Literacy program. He also spoke about the importance of reading to your children.

This year’s 6-day Athena workshop combines family literacy and songwriting, with an exploration of healthy eating and cooking. The mothers also receive a large number of books to share with their children.

Norton Juster was an immediate hit with the teen mothers, who loved his warm and folksy manner. One of the mothers said, “I wish he was my grandfather!” Each of the teen mothers received a copy of his children’s book The Hello Goodbye Window, which he signed for each of them. The young mother that had wished that he was her grandfather asked him to sign it “Grandpa Juster,” which he did.

Funding for the Athena Program comes in part from PeoplesBank.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Athena Program Features Songwriter Robin Lane

This year’s 6-day Athena Interactive Literacy Program features the dynamic Robin Lane (of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters fame) and the ever popular Chef Bill Collins.

Reader to Reader's Athena Program works with teen mothers from Holyoke, Massachusetts and focuses on building personal and family literacy skills combined with healthy eating and cooking.

The program also includes a visit from renowned children’s author Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth) to talk about how children’s books are written, and a day exploring a college campus.

Robin Lane is working with the teen mothers on songwriting, and the first order of business is a group song.

Chef Bill kicked off the cooking with an exploration of the ever versatile egg.

Funding for the Athena Program comes in part from PeoplesBank.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reader to Reader Receives Award for Work in Chicopee

Reader to Reader founder David Mazor accepted the CCPTO Civic Award on behalf of Reader to Reader. The honor was presented at an award dinner hosted by the Chicopee Parent Teacher Organization.

“We thank Reader to Reader for all they have done to help Chicopee’s schools, including the $1,000,000 worth of books they have donated,” said Samuel Karlin, principal at Belcher Elementary. “They have also donated new laptop computers and they provide an outstanding mentoring program for our students.”

Reader to Reader has been working with schools in Chicopee, Massachusetts for almost a decade, providing an essential resource lifeline. In the spring of 2012 they donated 40,000 new children’s books to area schools.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reader to Reader Hosts StoryZone

Reader to Reader staff had a fun weekend at the Taste of Amherst hosting our StoryZone.

Where better to get a story read to you on request?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Costa Rica Library Project Starts 3rd Year

(A group of students from Amherst College, plus a student from Reed College, are in Costa Rica for the summer working on the Beyond el Campo project. Over the past two summers, the Reader to Reader project built a community library and ran literacy programs in the coffee-farming village of Santa Cruz. Here is their first report.)

We finally made it to Costa Rica! We arrived in Santa Cruz on Wednesday afternoon and met our host families. After settling in, we all met at the library and discussed ideas for what needs to be done this summer. On Thursday, we toured Santa Cruz in the morning, and in the afternoon we did some much-needed cleaning in the library. Friday, we went to the elementary school and met with the principal to discuss a potential partnership between the school and the library, and watched the children’s soccer match. After lunch, we finished cleaning the library, stabilized the bookshelves, and reorganized all of the books. This included familiarizing ourselves with the library’s catalog system, cataloging new books, updating the call numbers, and synchronizing the electronic database with the books on hand. We then met with Joanna, a Spanish teacher at the high school, and offered the library as a resource. Both the elementary and high school teachers were receptive and eager to collaborate with us.

On Saturday, Alex and Ned went to San Jose to buy new books, soccer ball shaped beanbags, educational posters, flash cards, and art supplies for the library. They also talked with people in three different bookstores to arrange bulk purchases of books that the elementary and high school teachers had asked us to stock for their students. Sergio’s father donated free soccer turf to use as a carpet for our soccer-themed reading area. Ali, Caitlin, Rose, and Emma stayed in Santa Cruz and made and distributed fliers to advertise our meet-and-greet that we hosted in the library on Sunday. The girls also bought ingredients to make cookies. We spent four hours and baked a hundred cookies.

On Sunday, we finished organizing the books and went to church, after which we had our meet and greet with free coffee and cookies that we made. It was a huge success; the library was packed, and we met many of the locals. Over fifty books were checked out that day as well. On Monday, we sanded the library’s ceiling and met with a group of high school students to present our thoughts about how the library could better serve the community. They gave us much positive feedback and also suggested some movies that we could show on our weekly movie nights. Today, we began to repaint the outside of the library, and primed and painted the ceiling all day. When we arrived, the ceiling was an unfinished, splotchy grey. Now, the ceiling is a bright sky blue and will include painted clouds and a sun.

For the upcoming week, we will be going to the elementary school to tutor a couple of children with learning disabilities, visit English classes and help out with some fun activities. We will visit the high school to host a cooking class, and continue to clean and paint the library.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Katy Moonan Joins Reader to Reader Staff

We are pleased to welcome Katy Moonan to our staff as our new Family Literacy Coordinator. Katy has been a world traveler all her life. Having grown up in Mexico, she is fluent in Spanish and has interned with youth and entrepreneurship projects in New Zealand, Mexico, and the USA. Katy graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a BA in Government: International Relations and a minor in Postcolonial Development. This training and her experience in cultural competency make her a unique addition to our team. Her newest adventure is to direct all family literacy programming for Reader to Reader and act as special liaison to the Holyoke Public School District here in Massachusetts. As the majority of Holyoke is Puerto Rican, her fluency and experiences are instrumental to our programs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

6,500 Books for Maine

We're very pleased to be expanding our work in Maine, where one in four children suffer from food insecurity and public education budgets are suffering tremendously from poor state leadership and a weak economy.

On behalf of the students and staff of Alfred Elementary School, I would like to express our sincere thanks for the generous donation of books to our school. Your Reader to Reader program is truly making a difference. Our students were so excited and could not wait to read and explore the new books donated to their classrooms. Your donation also allowed us to add books to our Literacy support program. This program is designed to provide intervention support for our struggling readers. During these challenging financial times programs like yours are so very necessary. We are very appreciative and grateful for your donation.


Virginia Drouin
Principal, Alfred Elementary

Alfred Elementary School is just one of the schools in York and Cumberland counties in Maine that are receiving new books from Reader to Reader this year. In these poor and rural areas, resources that were minimal to start are rapidly shrinking. Many schools and libraries are unable to purchase new books, leaving their students and teachers without access to a variety of stimulating and engaging materials.

With increased access to books, students have greater opportunity to read, for fun and in class. This translates directly into improved academic success and greater potential for future success. Reader to Reader strongly believes in the ability of young people of all backgrounds, and in the power of reading to facilitate their success.

These donations were made possible by the generous support of the Samuel L. Cohen Foundation and Scholastic.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Books for St. Bonaventure Mission Indian School

Our recent round of library assessments concluded with a visit to the St. Bonaventure Mission Indian School, which is located on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation in Thoreau, New Mexico. We brought with us a box of books with various titles that they had requested.

The school was founded in 1974 by Bishop Hastrich, bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico. Thoreau is a desperately poor town, and all the school’s 200 students attend completely tuition-free.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Library Transformed at St. Michael Indian School

We are so pleased to see our work paying off for the students at St. Michael Indian High School in St. Michaels, Arizona.

Working with librarian Melissa Coles, we have replaced half the books in her library. This summer we will replace many of the rest. We will also be donating 5 Dell Optiplex 620 computers to replace the one antiquated computer the library currently has. Gone are the out-dated, tired, threadbare books that were of little relevance or interest to their students. Now they have a modern and relevant collection. The new fantasy section is just one example.

"Looking around the library as the school year ends, it is unrecognizable to how it looked in August, There are new, fun books and happy students. Thank you for helping make this possible."--Melissa Coles, Librarian.

(Top Picture: Melissa Coles and Reader to Reader's Kathryn Libby)