Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sand Creek Elementary Gets iMac

Sand Creek Elementary in Colorado Springs, Colorado is getting an iMac computer courtesy of Reader to Reader.

The computer will be used for a new filmmaking class, among other uses.

Reader to Reader's Computer Donation Program donates new and refurbished computers to schools and libraries.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Books Reach Remote Village in Ghana

Reader to Reader gets books to some of the most isolated locations in the world. Here is one wonderful example from our work in Ghana.

Dear Sir or Madam, I am an American working in Ghana, West Africa. I was just looking at your website and was very impressed. I have a close friend who is teaching school in a very rural village. She teaches 60 children by herself. She is teaching at the kindergarten level but some of the kids in her class are 12 or 13 as they haven't had a chance to attend school until now. The village has no electricity or running water and the children know nothing of the world outside. My friend expressed the need for some good children's books to help motivate her children to learn to read and to give them more of a feel for what the rest of the world is like. I was wondering if you would consider donating books so that we could set up a library for this school. Please consider our request for this very needy situation.

I appreciate your time. If you need any more information about me or the school in question please let me know.

We sent a wide variety of subjects and age ranges.

We are so glad the books are being enjoyed. We are now working on our second shipment of books for this village.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Reader to Reader Partners with Gateway City Arts

This summer, Reader to Reader is partnering with Gateway City Arts to offer an arts and restoration program to high school students in Holyoke.

The mission of Gateway City Arts is to provide top quality opportunities that are rooted in community, which syncs well with the Reader to Reader philosophy. Even though Gateway City Arts focuses on visual arts while we focus on literacy, we are both working towards the same educational and life quality goals and thus see many windows of opportunity for productive collaborations.

Students from the Summer of Power ELL program and from the Youth Works Career Point program go to Gateway City Arts for three hours every afternoon, to explore the arts as a career direction. Under the instruction of artist and renovator Vitek Kruta, students learn how to do old-world restoration techniques like faux finishing and stenciling. Meanwhile they are all collaborating to paint an eighty foot mural that will be put up on the outside of the old police station building in downtown Holyoke while it undergoes renovations.

Reader to Reader's Katy Moonan— who has a background in art and whose work is centered in Holyoke year round while running DiscoverBooks—is on site to help with the mural and provide translation services during the program.

The mural depicts images from the beautiful stained glass windows of Holyoke City Hall, and is part of a broader project to raise funds for their restoration. The murals also include writing that the students do during the program, in workshops provided by Kathy Dunn of Main Street Writers. The writings are focused on the students’ aspirations and inspirations. These writings not only enrich the murals, they add the voices of young Holyoke residents to the call that underscores the restoration campaign: it is urgent that we believe in and invest in a bright future for Holyoke.

We are excited about all of the potential that comes from this new partnership with Gateway City Arts and look forward to many more collaborations!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

$70,000 in Math Textbooks Donated to Fort Berthold Indian Reservation

Reader to Reader is pleased to announce that $70,000 in new Basic Mathematics textbooks have been donated to schools on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The donation was made possible through a generous donation by author Steve Slavin.

“On behalf our college, please accept our thanks and appreciation for these wonderful books,” mathematics professor Bernadine Young Bird said. “72 boxes were delivered to the Fort Berthold Community College today. We have a GED program, student services tutoring, five high schools, seven libraries, a juvenile justice center, as well as for our college math foundations level courses that can utilize these text books to help our students work on their basic math skills. They will be used to assist many students and adults of all ages. We certainly appreciate the Reader to Reader organization for this wonderful gift and all of your wonderful work.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rebecca Cubells Joins Reader To Reader Staff

Reader to Reader is happy to announce Rebecca Cubells as its new Mentoring Program Coordinator.

Rebecca is a 2010 graduate of Agnes Scott College with a BA in English Literature-Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. She has volunteered for non-profits and as a literacy mentor for The Global Village School in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rebecca is thrilled to be joining a literacy non-profit, where she believes she can help to spread a love of books to secondary education students. She will be training mentors, developing programs, and reviewing books for Reader to Reader’s library and blog.

Rebecca is a 2013-2014 AmeriCorps VISTA fellow through the Mass Mentoring Partnership's Ambassador of Mentoring host program.

Welcome aboard!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Families Benefit from DiscoverBooks Program in Holyoke

It has been an amazing first year of the expanded DiscoverBooks program in Holyoke! Reader to Reader started the program in 2010 to offer a rich family literacy program to young mothers at the Care Center in Holyoke and Central High School in Springfield.

This year the program has expanded to work with immigrant parents at two elementary and middle schools in Holyoke. As of this year the main feature of DiscoverBooks is a combined ESOL and Family Literacy class for parents that takes place at the school their children attend. Parents learn English in order to further their own educational and work goals as well as to support their children’s needs. Meanwhile, the program focuses on helping parents learn more about the importance of literacy and parent involvement in education.

Since October 2012 this expanded branch of DiscoverBooks has served over 40 Holyoke parents. Together these parents have a total of over 60 children ranging from 1 year old to 18 years old in the Holyoke Public Schools, who are benefiting from their parents’ increased abilities to support their literacy and educational achievements. Here are some highlights from the year:

-Increased parent participation in Parent Teacher Conferences and school events
-Increased reading at home
-Each parent took home more than 40 books over the course of the year
-Two wonderful family fieldtrips, to museums in Springfield and to an ice skating rink.

Parents from the program were joined by their families to go on these fun trips that took place during school vacation weeks.

-Two great parent fieldtrips, to Career Point to explore work opportunities and to UMass to explore educational opportunities for themselves and their children.

-A beautiful Page to Stage presentation of the book “I’ll Follow the Moon.” Parents worked with Enchanted Circle Theater to put together the show, complete with props, musical effects, and parents reading out loud in English.

This summer, the program has continued and with the added component of a partnership with the Gill Technology Center. The program now includes English and family literacy in addition to computer literacy and the use of IBM-developed ‘Reading Companion’ software. This software is designed for parents to help their children become better readers. It is ideal for English learning parents because it allows them to practice their own reading in English, using headsets which help to correct their pronunciation.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Reader to Reader's Ophelia Hu Publishes Novel

Congratulations Ophelia!

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Outreach Coordinator, Ophelia Hu, has published her first novel, The Good Fight.

The first two chapters of The Good Fight won the 2012 Williams-Mystic Joseph Conrad Essay Contest.

To order The Good Fight visit Amazon.com.

About The Good Fight

Set somewhere between present and future, The Good Fight introduces a town bisected by a contaminated River, numb to its endless involvement in war, and peaceful – at the surface. The townspeople put no faith in the future and remember no past. Sam, an illiterate prizefighter, lives here with his veteran brother, Rig, and sister-in-law, Camila. Rig once upheld the sport’s accompanying moral code. Now, Sam clings to it. But one day, Rig confides a secret to his wife. Heartbroken yet relieved, Camila agrees with his decision but cannot share the burden with anyone – even Sam, whom she had grown to love in her husband’s absence. Sam and Camila are their own greatest temptations. Their love is sincere but wrought with confusion and hurt that deepen with Rig’s choice. They must crash or repel, or else destroy themselves in limbo. Meanwhile, Lyons’ peace unravels and the townspeople point fingers, at last realizing that they possess both the wound and the weapon. Ophelia Hu’s debut novel gives us a moving portrait of self and circumstance, familiarizing the strange and estranging the familiar as the characters struggle to navigate a world that could be dystopian if it were not our own. The Good Fight captures tragic love and its more tragic absence, the burden of ignorance, and the audacity of forgiveness.

About the Author

Ophelia Hu earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies in 2012 from Amherst College, where she wrote a novella about misremembered Ethiopian environmental history for her senior thesis. The first two chapters of The Good Fight won the 2012 Williams-Mystic Joseph Conrad Essay Contest. Her fiction has appeared in The Common and HESA Inprint. She now lives and works in the Navajo Nation for Reader to Reader, Inc., a global literacy nonprofit, and she organizes local writers’ workshops to encourage members to be the tellers of their own stories and investors in their own futures. Ophelia is a storyteller of many media. Also a pianist, singer, and songwriter, she combs each day for folk tales, misheard words, and unwritten vignettes. An avid traveler, she now resides in a trailer in canyon country, where the unbroken highway and unbridled horses are the stuff of stories.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer ELL Mentoring and the Power of Discussion

Three weeks into Holyoke's innovative "Summer of Power" ELL program, students are taking classroom discussion to new levels -- in small, collaborative, more self-directed groups where the learning can follow the natural turns of conversation.

In a recent guest post on the Summer of Power blog, Thomas (a mentor and graduate student at UMass) discussed the conversation he and his students had after reading about the bloodstained conspirators' announcement of Caesar's death in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

“Ooh, they wash their hands in his blood!” The imagery excites Ferb, but the others wrinkle their noses.

“Yes,” I affirm. “So what does that mean?”

“It means they’re murderers,” Frances Bean says. “It’s, like, proof that they did it, that Caesar is dead.”

“And it’s what happened in Calpurnia’s dream, right?” I prompt. In Act 2, Scene 2, Caesar relates a dream that his wife had, in which “she saw [his] statue, / Which, like a fountain with an hundred spouts, / Did run pure blood. And many lusty Romans / Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it” (76-79).

“So her dream came true,” Sjanira says. “Did she actually have that dream?”

“Well, we don’t really know,” I concede, “but there was a myth that she did, and Shakespeare borrowed from that myth.”

“Wait,” Sjanira stops me. “Shakespeare didn’t live when Caesar was around? Then how did he know this stuff?” As Thomas reflects on that discussion, he says, "Now that my students get what’s at stake in Caesar’s assassination -- power, love, betrayal, omens -- they’re interested, probably more than ever before, in a nexus of related subjects, such as history, religion, drama, and the literary tradition."

Big things are happening on the third floor at Holyoke High School.