Monday, February 1, 2016

Literacy Organization Donates Thousands of Books to Navajo and Hopi

Katherine Locke, Reporter 
Navajo Hopi Observer

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - School children on and around Hopi and the Navajo Nation received tens of thousands of new children's books over the holidays to take home thanks to Reader to Reader, a Massachusetts literacy organization.

Reader to Reader works on improving literacy in Arizona and New Mexico, across the United States and internationally.

"We pleased to make this large donation just before the holidays in order to get books into children's hands that they can enjoy over winter vacation," said David Mazor, founder and executive director of Reader of Reader. "We had the option of donating these books to any school districts in the country but we selected the districts that are on and near the Navajo and Hopi Nations as part of our ongoing support of literacy for Native children. We especially thank our partner Scholastic Inc. for the mountain of books they have donated."

Mazor said the organization was contacted about a dozen years ago by a school on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.

"We started helping them build their school library and over time it grew to be a bigger effort with more schools and school districts," he said. "It just got bigger and bigger and bigger."

Over the past decade, Reader to Reader has donated over $2.5 million in books, computers and school supplies to school it has worked with on or near the Navajo Nation and the Hopi reservation.

"We help supply a lot of different things depending on the needs of the school," Mazor said. "We reach a whole lot of different schools that range from one end of the Navajo reservation to the other and also on the Hopi reservation."

Among the school systems receiving thousands of books are: Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools, Gallup, New Mexico; Central Consolidated Schools, Shiprock, New Mexico; Ganado Unified School District, Ganado, Arizona; and Hopi School District, Keams Canyon, Arizona.

"We are so happy to be a recipient of Reader to Reader's and Scholastic's generosity," said Mary Lindenmeyer, library medial coordinator for Gallup-McKinley County Schools in Gallup, New Mexico. "They are such an amazing organization that has had a profound impact on the children in our district."

In all, Reader to Reader is donating 17,000 new books for grades kindergarten through grade 12 totaling $200,000 dollars. The books are provided by Reader to Reader through its partnerships with Scholastic Corp. through The Scholastic Possible Fund, Pioneer Valley Press and several other leading publishers.

The organization works with the publishers for what would be of interest or appropriate to where the donation is going because it donates books all around the world and every place is different in what the kids need and what the kids are interested in. The donations sometimes include textbooks, too.

Mazor said part of the reason for founding the organization was the critical shortage of books in lower income communities around the country and the world.

"I wanted to directly address that problem," he said. "Books just open up and give you a doorway to unlocking imagination. On a practical level, the better you read, the better your job prospects are when you grow up, but also, the more you'll know about the world. Reading itself is such a pleasurable experience that when kids get more books in their lives, they enjoy that."

© Copyright 2016 Western News&Info, Inc.

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