Thursday, October 24, 2013

Welding Supplies Key to Student Retention

What does literacy work have to do with welding supplies?  Everything!
A very special thank you to Newell Rubbermaid for their donation of welding supplies to Navajo Pine High School in Navajo, New Mexico.
Shop class is the only elective the school currently has, having lost art class at the end of last year, and it is one of the keys to keeping students engaged and coming to school.
We are pleased to have facilitated this donation, as shop class directly impacts literacy not only through improving school attendance and retention, but because it engages students in problem solving, math, reading and creative design.
The high school is located 50 miles northwest of Gallup, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation. The town has a population of 2,000 with few jobs in the area. A sawmill that was the town’s major employer closed a decade ago and stands abandoned and covered with gang graffiti. 
Thanks to the dedication of Voc-Ed teacher Bob Carrick, his class teaches employable skills including auto mechanics, CAD drawing, woodworking and welding that have enabled graduates to get jobs in other areas.
“I would like to thank everyone at Reader to Reader and Newell Rubbermaid for sending the welding tools as we desperately needed them,” said Bob Carrick. “Our students are already putting them to good use. From my students and myself we offer a big thank you.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Public Libraries Make a Difference: Teen Read Week

Katy Moonan, our Family Literacy Program Director, tells us why the public library means so much to her.

My family and I moved from Guanajuato, Mexico to South Pomfret, Vermont when I was in fifth grade. In Mexico, there were no public libraries. My sister and I welcomed the new privilege of the town library with joyfully open arms, ranking it right up there with drinkable sink water and the lack of street dogs. Every week, we would check out a stack of books, usually reading an average of at least 3 books a week.  Reading became my obsession and would remain so throughout my teenage years. I loved learning and imagining about other places and people, both real and fictional. I loved developing my familiarity and perception of how characters (and the real people I knew couldn’t be that different!) acted, reacted, and felt in different situations. I loved how reading made things easier at school—I was able to become good at spelling, vocabulary, and writing even though I’d never done much of this in English before. Most of all I loved how easy it was to anchor down into a book world and remain there, suspended in the waves of the story, until reality hauled up via the parental calls to dinner or obligatory bed time.

The most re-read series of this happy era was The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce, about a young girl who pretends to be a boy in order to train to become a knight. The trials and triumphs of the heroine and other characters captured me completely as I got to know them, laughing at their humor, raging at the injustice they faced and celebrating their victories. My parents would ask what I wanted to do at the start of the weekend and without hesitation I would reply "read." Granted, there wasn't much competition in terms of amusements in our quiet Vermont existence.  Still, my thirteen year old self wouldn't hear of exchanging reading for other activities if she could help it and I know that my current self is indebted to that resolve. Reading as a young teenager was without a doubt one of the biggest favors I could have done for myself, because of the enjoyment I got out of it at the time but also because it allowed me to claim my own literacy and lioness capabilities. 

To learn more about Teen Read Week, visit YALSA's site at

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Sweetest Fundraiser Ever!

Join us on Saturday, November 2nd, 12:00-3:00 PM, for the sweetest event in the history of Amherst, MA.

The Amherst Business Improvement District and the UMass Amherst chapter of Phi Sigma Pi present the first annual Amherst Mega-Dessert Crawl! Proceeds benefit Reader to Reader, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing literacy and fostering a love of reading at all ages. Indulge in some delicious desserts while supporting a great cause.

Put your sweet tooth to the test with this ultimate dessert experience! One ticket booklet gives you access to all 20 restaurants on the Dessert Crawl route for only $20.

There will be raffles, activities, and student performances in Kendrick Park (the lawn area across from Bertucci’s) throughout the day. Don’t miss out!


Only a limited number of tickets will be sold at the event, so get yours now!

-Tickets can be purchased downtown at A.J. Hastings, Amherst B.I.D. office, Amherst Chamber of Commerce, and Loose Goose Cafe.

-UMass Amherst students: Sign up starting October 21st in the Campus Center concourse (look for the Phi Sigma Pi table) Mon-Fri anytime between 9:00-3:00

-Amherst College students: Buy tickets directly from Reader to Reader at the Cadigan Center for Religious Life

-Hampshire College students: Tickets are available at the Campus Leadership and Activities office.

Bring your ticket booklet to Kendrick Park at your specified start time to check in and receive your Dessert Crawl map/guide!

Dessert Destinations:


The Pub

Loose Goose Café

Glazed Donut Shop

Baku’s African Restaurant

Chez Albert

Henion Bakery

D. P. Dough

Bart's Homemade Café


J. Gumbo’s

High Horse Brewing


Arise Farm to Table Pub and Pizzeria

Oriental Flavor

La Veracruzana

White Hut

The Black Sheep

Paradise of India

Wheatberry Bakery and Cafe

It's not just a dessert, it's an adventure!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Celebrate Teen Read Week: Seek the Unknown at Your Library

Reader to Reader’s Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator, Ophelia Hu, shares her thoughts on writing and reading dystopian fiction to kick off Teen Read Week, October 13-19. To learn more about YALSA’s Teen Read Week, visit 

Earlier this year, I finished and published a dystopian novel. It wasn't meant to be science fiction or dystopian, but sometimes stories stop their authors, stamp their feet, and assert themselves beyond an author's control.

To me, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction is blurry at best. It's not completely like what they taught us in school. Dystopian fiction is a great example of that. (After all, fiction is often about what's true, and nonfiction can be totally bogus, right?)

At its heart, dystopia isn't about the future or the faraway; it's about the here and now. It's a mirror stamped with the words, "Caution: items are closer than they appear." It's the minutiae of the everyday connected lightly in pencil in the hope that human nature is good and that, against all odds, the future is mutable. Dystopia is the renegade's real-talk - the burgeoning activist's catalyst.

If that describes you, or even if this is the first time you've heard of dystopia, consider a dystopian novel for your next literary adventure. Some of my favorites are George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Don't forget: some great movies are coming out soon! Ender's Game and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are both based on fantastic series. I highly recommend reading the books before seeing the movies. Compare the two. What did they change in the movies? Which did you like better?

And if you liked The Hunger Games, try Veronica Roth's Divergent series or Koushun Takami's Battle Royale. If you're looking for something a little off the beaten path, crack open Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or P. D. James' Children of Men.

Ophelia Hu is a storyteller of many media. Also a pianist, singer, and songwriter, she combs each day for folk tales and misheard words. She now resides in a trailer in canyon country, where the unbroken highway and unbridled horses are the stuff of stories. Her novel, The Good Fight, is now available on Amazon and through her publisher, Deep Sea Publishing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Congratulations, Zanetti!

MCAS results for 2013 are in, and the Zanetti School in Springfield, Massachusetts showed so much improvement that they moved from Level 4 status to Level 1 status. No other school in the Commonwealth made such a huge turnaround.

Reader to Reader is enthusiastically starting its second year working with Zanetti through our Read, Think, Share literacy mentoring program, and we are truly impressed with the amazing work they do there. To Principal Clark and all the teachers and students at Zanetti, we wish you continued success!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Receiving your generous boxes of books is the gift that keeps giving!

What you see above is half of the GIANT card a teacher from Moos Elementary in Chicago, Illinois mailed us in thanks for sending books!

Dear Reader to Reader,
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
Receiving your generous boxes of books is the gift that keeps giving--my students are excited about finding new books and aiming for chapter books. Enclosed is their heartfelt thanks. It was very difficult to start the year as I had very few books and my students were reading on all different levels and in different languages. You have not only started our library, but you have taught myself and my students a lesson in generosity and sharing. “Thank you” is an understatement.
Read on!
Ms. Freedman and room 216 Moosketeers
Moose Elementary, Chicago, IL

Her students sent their thanks as well. Here’s a sampling:

Thank you for the big pack of books that you gave us. I love the books. I loved the chapter books and the animal books and the fiction and nonfiction. My favorite book was Toy Story!
Sincerely, Christian

Thank you for the books, I really like all of them. I read two books you gave! Thank you very much for the books. They were very nice and I really like the Dragon in a Wagon. It is very nice and I like all of the books. I hope you have a nice day Mr. Mazor, I really like all of your books.

Thank you for the books you send us. The book I liked was Lizzie For President. I liked it a lot. Thank you for sending it, I really enjoyed it a lot. I am going to read a lot and thank you again!

We are so pleased to support such energetic readers! Enjoy your new books!