Friday, April 27, 2012

Art4Good Auction Benefits International Programs

Thanks to the generosity of Art4Good, 35 prints are being auctioned off to benefit Reader to Reader's International Programs. These beautiful 13"x19" limited edition giclee prints are only available through Art4Good's auctions, but there are only 3 days left to bid! Visit our auction page at: Bring some beauty into your home and many books to communities that desperately need them. Proceeds benefit our educational programs in Nigeria, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica, among others.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today's Hero of Literacy: Frederick Douglass

(A special guest blog from Bob Erwin)

Wow, talk about a hero of literacy!

(1818-95) spent the first twenty years of his life in slavery, and if he had not escaped to New York and beyond he might have spent another twenty-five. As a slave he could expect zero schooling. The great majority of whites at the time believed that it was wrong – in several southern states it was against the law- to teach a slave to read.

As an illiterate boy Douglas was loaned to his master’s Baltimore relatives George and Sophia Auld. Sophia took to reading the Bible aloud sometimes when George was at work, and Douglass was fascinated by the relationship between her words and the marks on the page. By showing his intelligence and appealing to her Christian kindness, he persuaded her to teach him to read.

She and her pupil, proud of how well the boy had learned the rudiments, gave a surprise demonstration to George one day and were shocked by his angry order to stop the lessons immediately. “If you learn that nigger…how to read the Bible,” Douglass recalled the man’s words, “there will be no keeping him.” Later Douglass sarcastically referred to this tirade as an “antislavery lecture.”

Too late, George.

Douglass continued to work away surreptitiously with whatever reading material came to hand. On the streets of Baltimore he traded biscuits for spelling lessons from white boys. He attended churches organized by free blacks, thrilled to witness them reading and preaching. There came a day when with money earned from polishing boots he bought a copy of the Columbian Orator. This was a standard guide of the day for the public speakers, likewise studied by young Abraham Lincoln out in Illinois.

When Douglass escaped the South, he found the abolitionists and they found him, and he lectured all across the North. He got along with men such as Wendell Phillips who recognized his eloquence and dignity. He scorned sponsors who suggested he put a “touch of plantation” into his speeches to suit white notions of how a “darky” talked.

Elated by Emancipation midway through the Civil War, Douglass threw himself into recruiting black men for the Union army, including the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. From an unprecedented and intense meeting with Lincoln in the summer of 1863 he came away convinced that the President meant to guard black interests.

Before, during, and after the war Douglass--never a one-tune fiddler--continued to speak, write and edit for a variety of causes. He agitated, as he called it, for women’s rights, free public education, and the abolition of capital punishment.

Many historians believe that Frederick Douglass (who changed his name from Bailey to throw slavecatchers off the track) was the most influential black person of his time. And it all started with him practicing his alphabet on fences in the alleys of Baltimore.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reader to Reader Donates Laptop Computers to Chicopee School

Students at Litwin Elementary in Chicopee, Massachusetts show off the new HP laptops donated by Reader to Reader.

The school is participating in Reader to Reader’s Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program. The program matches school children with college student reading mentors to read books and discuss them online in a specially designed forum.

The computer donation not only increased computer access for the students participating in the mentoring program, but also gave the school a resource they can use throughout the school day.

“We cannot thank you enough for the laptop donation to our school this week!” said Jordana Harper, principal at Litwin Elementary. “Our technology needs were preventing us from having enough workstations for students to access. Because of your very generous donation, we will be able to participate in the Reader to Reader mentoring program. Our teachers are eagerly looking forward to beginning the program, which is an excellent and engaging way of connecting our students with college students, and having authentic conversations around texts. Thank you again!!!”

The Doris Hiatt Mentoring Program provides online mentoring for over 300 students in Massachusetts, Arizona and New Mexico.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Books Available for Young Readers

By Diane Lederman, The Republican

CHICOPEE – A one point in March, there were 40,000 books at the Belcher Elementary School ready for the taking by educators in Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield and West Springfield.

While the numbers have dwindled, plenty of titles remain and David Mazor of Reader to Reader, Inc. is hoping to get the word out.

This is the fifth year the Amherst-based program dedicated to expanding literacy and learning opportunities to chronically underserved and vulnerable communities, has provided the books.

The books were donated with the help of Scholastic, Comcast, the Xeric Foundation, and the Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation and part of the “getting reading proficiency by the fourth grade” initiative, Mazor said.

Belcher Elementary School Principal Samuel Karlin has worked with Mazor for several years on this and other Reader to Reader programs.

This particular program is “a wonderful opportunity. Schools can get books into the hands of kids, which will only help reading.”

He said “They’re absolutely beautiful books.” Many are hardcover and “I don’t think the children would have access to them ordinarily.”

The books are used in classrooms, or added to the library and in some cases are given to children as gifts to take home.

The titles such as “Nate the Great & The Sticky Case” and “Spiderwick Chronicles: Care and Feeding of Sprites” are recognizable to the children. More than three dozen titles are available.

Any eligible school should contact Karlin at 413-594-3526 to arrange to pick them up. Books will be available until they are gone.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hooray for Brownie Troop 506!

Congratulations to Brownie Troop 506 of Vienna, Virginia! The troop had a successful Reader to Reader Book Drive on behalf of Brookings Elementary in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Brookings was heavily damaged by a tornado in June 2011 and lost all their books. The Brownie troop adopted the school as their service project with great results. Here are a few words from their troop leader.

Hi David,

This is Christie with the brownie troop in Virginia. The girls have just completed their book drive for Brookings Elementary school. Through friends, church and their school, they collected 6 cases of books for Brookings. They took a photo of the troop with the books and wrote a letter to go in each box.
This was a great project for the girls. And because you paired us up with Brookings, I was able to go to the internet and pull video of the tornado and also pictures of the school afterwards. The girls had so many questions and we had an awesome discussion about a multitude of related topics. Thank you for opportunity to help them carry out their first “on their own” service project.

Thanks so much!
Christie Radomsky

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

15,000 New Children’s Books Donated to New Mexico Schools

Gallup, NM – Reader to Reader, a Massachusetts nonprofit literacy organization, has donated 15,000 new children’s books to public schools in the Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools District.

The donation is the third major donation the literacy organization has made in the last 12 months. In August of 2011, Reader to Reader donated 13,000 new books for back to school and in December they donated hundreds of books and 5 computers for Navajo Pine Middle School in Navajo, New Mexico. Reader to reader has been working to enhance schools and libraries on and near the Navajo nation for the past decade, and has donated over $1,000,000 worth of books, computers and teacher resources in that time.

The latest book donation has brought an enthusiastic response from teachers.

“Thank you so much for the books you sent us! We will enjoy them greatly,” said Randy Reeve, who teaches kindergarten in the town of Thoreau, New Mexico. “My kindergartners have enjoyed reading these books and some of them won books to take home!”

“This is part of our continuing commitment to the schools in New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation, and the schools in the Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools District in particular,” says David Mazor, founder and executive director of Reader of Reader. “Greater access to books has a direct impact on literacy rates.”

The books include a long list of popular titles, including:

Bridge Terabithia
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Nate the Great & the Sticky Case
Berloiz The Bear
If You Give a Pig a Party
Great Joy

The books have already generated enthusiastic responses for both teachers and students.

“The first grade students in my class are enjoying the wonderful books you have donated, I am appreciative because many of the books are hardback and will last a long time in the hands of first graders. Again, thank you for your generous donations! Love and Learning,” said Ms. Garcia on behalf of her first grade class at Juan de Onate Elementary in Gallup, New Mexico

"Thank you for the books! I like Diary of a Fly." noted Celia, one of her energetic students.

Reader to Reader's donation was made possible by Scholastic.

About Reader to Reader

Based on the campus of Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Reader to Reader, Inc. is a non-profit organization that distributes books to schools and libraries in need. They have donated millions of books to schools and libraries in across the United States.