Thursday, March 27, 2014

Native American Students Explore Goal Setting

Ophelia Hu, Reader to Reader's Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator, writes about the work she is doing with 50 freshmen and sophomores from the Kinlani all-Native dorm of Flagstaff High School in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is 369 miles round trip but that has not deterred her in the least.

I asked my audience if anyone could jump ten feet in the air. A few giggles, but no one raised any hands. I then asked if anyone could climb a flight of stairs. Goal setting is just like that.

Each student started by recalling and writing a long-term goal they had met in the past. One student won a local skate competition. One student won first place at the regional science fair. One student learned to do a crossover in basketball. The group had a wide range of accomplishments and techniques for arriving at their respective achievements.

We then planned steps to achieve long-term academic or extracurricular goals: what can we do today to bring us closer to achievement? What can we do in the next week? In the next month? How about in a month or in six months?

By dissecting large, seemingly impossible feats into manageable daily or weekly goals, lofty dreams become daily victories. Sometimes the greatest encouragement toward success is success. I also asked students to find at least one person in the room to lean on for accountability and encouragement.

While positive thinking and inspirational quotes can be helpful for the psyche, the athletes, musicians, siblings, and scholars in the auditorium all knew that achievement was ultimately the result of understanding why a goal is worthwhile and how it can be attained.

In a month, I will check with these students to chart the progress of their goal setting and achievements. During that presentation, we’ll talk about habits and tools for high school success.

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, March 25, 2014

An Amherst grad teams with Reader to Reader in an inspiring book drive

Having grown up in the West African nation of Ghana, Selasie Krampa knew what books could mean to a student in a developing country. So after graduating from Amherst College and taking a job at Aetna in Hartford, Connecticut, he started a book drive for Africa at his office.

“Easy access to books can help increase literacy rates in developing countries,” Selasie says. “This firm belief is what led me to start a book drive.”

A fellow Amherst College alumnus told him about Reader to Reader’s commitment to international literacy, and Selasie contacted us early this year to see if we could boost his collection efforts.

We helped Selasie bring the books down to his collection site in Hartford this weekend. Reader to Reader’s donation to the effort consists of 1200 books, ranging from pre-K to adult, in both English and French. These books, along with donations from his co-workers at Aetna, will head for Africa in April, shipped courtesy of Aetna.

Selasie’s optimistic outlook, as he works to develop resources, reflects exactly what drives our efforts: “I know how difficult it is to get access to books, especially as a child,” Selasie says. “I believe that reading a book can completely change a child's outlook of life.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lots of books for incoming kindergartners in Westbrook, Maine

All incoming kindergartners in the Westbrook, Maine school system will receive a free book during kindergarten screenings later this month thanks to a donation of 250 brand new books by Reader to Reader.

The United Way of Greater Portland runs the initiative, which aims to improve kindergarten readiness and get kids excited about starting school.

As a native Mainer herself, Reader to Reader's Kat Libby was happy to deliver the books to Karen Stephenson, Director of Volunteer Engagement last Friday (both pictured below.) Karen expressed her gratitude in a recent email: “Thank you so much for all of these beautiful books! I can’t wait to show them to the Literacy Specialists. They’ll be so excited to share them with the kids. I can’t tell you what this means to us.”

Happy reading to the brand-new kindergarteners, and future college Class of 2031!

Funding for our support of Maine comes from the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation and the F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Comcast Sponsors Read, Think Share Program

We are delighted to announce that Comcast is now a sponsor for our online literacy intervention program!

Read, Think, Share is a classroom-based program coupled with online mentoring which serves struggling readers and designed to foster a love of reading, improve literacy skills, reduce behavior problems, and reduce drop-out rates. In 2013, we served nearly 1,000 students grades 5-12 in western Massachusetts
Comcast joins an illustrious list of our sponsors including the Amelia Peabody Foundation, the Hiatt Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Fordham Street Foundation, the Beveridge Family Foundation, and many individual contributors.

Comcast is a strong supporter of access to technology and online learning for low-income students. Recently, Comcast announced that they have made their Internet Essentials program a permanent opportunity for low-income families. In its first two and a half years, Internet Essentials has connected more than 1.2 million low-income Americans (that’s 300,000 families!) to the power of the Internet at home.
Thanks to Comcast, eligible low-income students and their families in Comcast service areas (Massachusetts) will continue to be able to benefit from America's largest broadband adoption program providing affordable Internet service, discounted computers, and free digital literacy training. You can learn more about Internet Essentials fromComcast at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thank You Berkshire Country Day School!

Thank you to the fabulous 5th graders at Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for their very successful book drive!

In addition to collecting 20 boxes of books, the students turned the book drive into a classroom learning experience through presentations that the students did about Reader to Reader based on their research.  The highlight was a question and answer session with Reader to Reader founder David Mazor.

“What a bright, energetic group of students,” Mazor said. “It was such a pleasure to speak with them, and to congratulate them on the outstanding book drive.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Caitlin Scudder and Students Heads to Costa Rica in Support of Beyond el Campo Project

Caitlin Scudder, founder of Reader to Reader's Beyond el Campo project and former reading mentor, is heading back to Costa Rica with students from the Spanish class she teaches at The Academy at Charlemont.

Caitlin will bring 12 students and 3 chaperones on a trip to visit the public library she established in the coffee-farming village of Santa Cruz.  The group will contribute books and funds to help sustain the library.

Originally established as a 1-room library with 500 books, the library has grown to 3 rooms housing almost 3,000 books thanks to twice-annual visits by Amherst College and Reid College students as well as other volunteers. The service trips are supervised by Reader to Reader.

Thanks to the energy and passion of these volunteers, the library has also added computers, Wi-Fi, summer-long literacy programs, and reading groups, and is an important community social space.

One of Reader to Reader's priorities this year is to expand the number of young adult level books, and Caitlin is bringing down books we have given her that include Spanish-language editions of The Hunger Games series, and other popular young adult novels.

We are so pleased that Caitlin is still helping this much-needed community library thrive, and wish her and her students un buen viaje!

Beyond el Campo, a project of Reader to Reader's Springboard Program, seeks to combat the issue of educational inequality in Costa Rica by providing essential tools and educational resources to inspire success. Its goals are to provide a public space that serves as a community center for learning and creative engagement; to equip that space with resources that connect students with their own passions and interests; and to offer educational programs and workshops open to the entire community.