Friday, December 27, 2013

A Bear Can Be A Best Friend

A bear can be a best friend!

Just in time for the holidays, Katy Moonan, Reader to Reader’s Family Literacy Director, gave out teddy bears to the children of the parents in the DiscoverBooks program in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

This young fellow is taking his everywhere he goes, his mother reports.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The 10 Best Moments of 2013: A Year in Review

It’s been an amazing year at Reader to Reader, from a difference made to one child to huge booms in our programming. Here’s a taste of our favorite moments from the year.

1.  100,000 books donated to the Navajo Nation! After three years of great partnership and hard work, Reader to Reader completed its initial commitment of 100,000 books donated to schools and libraries across the Navajo reservation. Of course, we’ve committed another 100,000 books so the work keeps going! 

2.     The ELL Academy helped 120 students build their English skills over the summer. Our 23 mentor-interns had a huge impact on the kids, with the number one request from teachers, students and administrators alike being “more time with the mentors.” This program was run in partnership with Holyoke Public Schools.
3.      Rudi, a third grade student at Zanetti School in Springfield, Massachusetts, rocketed from a late-kindergarten reading level to reading on grade level thanks to the school’s reading recovery team. As you can imagine, he quickly ran out of new books to read! We brought a whole box just for Rudi, and his big smile and firm handshake made a big impression on our staff. Keep it up, Rudi!

4.       We launched a new college awareness and preparation program for first generation and low-income students this summer. Blueprint for Success was a stunning success in Springfield, with 25 students receiving support in college matching, applications and SAT prep. The program will educate parents in Holyoke in 2014 in addition to a second cohort in Springfield.

5.       Our family literacy programs DiscoverBooks and Encamínate are at record-high involvement, with 65 families participating! New creative empowerment components include public art, civic engagement, and a cooperative craft initiative.

6.       A project near and dear to our heart is very close to completion: replacing laptop computers for Hopi Mission School. On Thanksgiving 2012 the school was robbed of all its laptops. Over the past year, we’ve donated a secure, locking cart as well as 12 laptops for their students.

7.       We mentored over 940 students in 2013 through our Read, Think, Share program!

8.       We were proud to work with Brightwood Elementary School in Springfield, MA to launch Book Your Vacation. Before each school vacation, every child in the school would receive a new book to keep for their very own. We’ve never seen so many smiling, happy faces! The program culminated in a wonderful field day celebration for the summer giveaway.

9.       An impressive $171,000 worth of science & math textbooks were donated to high schools and colleges in Massachusetts, Arizona, North Dakota, Mississippi and Ghana thanks to Steve Slavin and Sinauer Associates.

10.    A very unusual letter arrived at our office one morning in March from Breeona, a student at Gallup Catholic School. Breeona had found a $100 bill in one of the books we donated to her classroom, and sent it back to us so we could “buy more books for other children.” Her honesty and kindness were so heartwarming, we sent another $500 worth of books to her school.

Here’s to 2013, and to an even more fantastic 2014!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bringing Holiday Cheer to Children of HIV Positive Parents

Kristen Benjamin, a nurse practitioner with Bay State Infectious Disease, holds some of the books that will go to children whose parents are HIV positive. Kristen has worked with these families for years and is delighted that this year the families will have new books for every child to enjoy. The children will also receive toys and other gifts thanks to the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

"I would like to express my gratitude for your generous gift of new books to be distributed to my patients," Kristen said. "I know this will be so appreciated, and I'm thrilled you are making this possible."

We are proud to support these families, and wish them a very happy holiday!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Please Donate! It's Valley Gives Day!

December 12 is Valley Gives Day!

With your support we could win a $1,200 random award or $10,000 for having the most donors! Imagine what we could do for literacy with that amount.

We need YOU to help us make a difference. Here's what you can do:

Donate before midnight on December 12 @

Please be our champion, and help us bring books and a joy of reading to the kids who truly need them. We can't wait to see how together, we can make a difference on Valley Gives Day!

Thank you,

David Mazor
Reader to Reader

Monday, December 9, 2013

Meet Jayquan: Read, Think, Share Student

 Meet Jayquan, a junior at Central High School in Springfield and graduate of our Read, Think, Share mentoring program.  Last year Jayquan worked hard with our mentors to improve his writing and reading skills. Here’s what he has to say about what Read, Think, Share meant to him:

How has the program had an impact in your life?

The program has helped me a lot on spelling, grammar, and how to respond back to complex questions. Another thing the program has helped me on is how I write. I am enrolled in an AP (advance placement) writing class which is very difficult but I'm getting a B+ in the class and I believe my writing skills would have never met the challenge without this program.

What is your favorite thing about the mentoring program?

My favorite part of the mentoring program was when we went to go see our mentors and spent a day with them and discussed our books. It was so intriguing to expand our learning and knowledge towards books. We would have full conversations that people from the other side of the room would jump in to share their input.

If you could say one thing to a student starting the program next year, what would it be?

Put your all into trying your best in this program because 11th grade writing is not easy at all! Be motivated to write back to the mentors because it is very useful in the future.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thank Yous From Bridgeport, CT

Another gorgeous set of heartfelt thank-yous from kids in Bridgeport, CT who received 4,000 brand new books from Reader to Reader! 

Their teacher wrote "We get a lot of used books but few new ones. Thank you for your generosity!" 

And here's a great drawing of one of the books from an excited student.

We're happy to hear the kids love their new books!

The Bridgeport Literacy Initiative is funded in part by the Xerox Corporation. Thank you Xerox!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Idaho Library Loves Their New Books

Dear Reader to Reader,

On behalf of the Hagerman Public Library and all our young readers, a very BIG THANK YOU!! Three of the new books never made it on the shelf, before they were checked out. GREAT BOOKS! Again, thank you so much.

Charlotte Rosen, Director
Hagerman Public Library
Hagerman, Idaho

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Read, Think, Share Program Grows at E.N. White

After a successful pilot program of Reader to Reader's Read, Think, Share last April, 7th and 8th graders at E.N. White School in Holyoke are reading and corresponding online with our college student mentors again this fall!

Popular authors there this year include Libby Bray, Kristin Cashore, and Sherrilyn Kenyon, and the students love writing to the mentors each day.

And for the mentors, nothing is better than having a student write that magical sentence: “I’m really enjoying this book!”

Monday, November 18, 2013

$18,000 in New Science Textbooks for Ghana University

Reader to Reader is pleased to announce an $18,000 new science textbooks donation to Presbyterian University College, Ghana.     

Located in Agogo, Ghana, the university serves the people within the Kwahu Traditional Area.

The science textbooks include multiple copies of the following titles:

The textbooks are now heading to Ghana as part of Reader to Reader’s Ghana Book Project.

The donation was made possible through the generosity of Sinauer Associates,  publishers of college-level textbooks and educational multimedia in biology, psychology, neuroscience, and allied disciplines.

A special thank you to Sinauer Associates for making this donation possible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Save the Date: Valley Give Day is December 12, 2013

Save the Date! Valley Gives Day is December 12!

Valley Gives Day is only a month away and we are thrilled to be participating again this year. This 24-hour online giving day leverages your donations to support the organizations working hard to improve our communities. The theme this year is “Bring a Friend,” so let your friends know that this is a great way to support Reader to Reader.

Mark your Calendars, and be part of our team to bring literacy and books to communities worldwide!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Congratulations to Leonard Marcus

We were honored to present our annual Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy Award to Leonard Marcus on Sunday at the Michelson Gallery's 24th Annual Children's Illustration Exhibit kick-off. 

A celebrated historian of children's literature, who has written 25 books and thousands of book reviews, and is the curator of the New York Public Library's landmark exhibition "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter," Leonard Marcus has done so much to legitimize the study of children's literature and to expand our understanding of it.

Thank you for your lifelong commitment to children's literacy, Leonard!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just Desserts!

 Thank you to everyone who made our first annual Dessert Crawl a huge success! Over 300 people participated, raising thousands of dollars to support Reader to Reader programs. What a wonderful way to bring the community together for sweet desserts and a great cause. And we couldn't have asked for better weather! 

Special thanks to our sponsors: Phi Sigma Pi, Amherst Business Improvement District and Steve Lewis Subaru. Their support made this incredible event possible.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Scares Up 17,500 Books for Navajo Nation Schools

Despite the spooky Halloween weather, our intrepid partners at the Navajo Nation Public Library are driving a book-filled U-Haul yet again! 

17,500 books and 21 computers are en route to the Navajo Nation, where they will be distributed to over 36 schools on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, the public library and its branch, Head Start programs, and Thoreau Community Center. The Office of the First Lady will also receive thousands of children’s books and college prep books for distribution across the Navajo Nation.

Director of the Navajo Nation Public Library Irving Nelson and his associate Everett Ettsity flew into Hartford, CT Wednesday night and picked up the U-Haul Thursday morning. Thanks to our incredible crew of volunteers, the loading was complete in only an hour and a half. Former mentoring students from Navajo Pine High School Jeff Chen and Kyle Clark were on site to assist, as well as community volunteer Paul Curran.  

Irving and Everett will drive the U-Haul back to Window Rock, Arizona after giving a presentation at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The books and computers will be delivered along the way, and over the next several weeks. 

 This is the 9th trip the staff from the Navajo Nation Public Library have made to deliver books across the reservation. Executive Director David Mazor said “I truly admire Irving and Everett’s unwavering dedication to delivering resources across the reservation. It’s a long trip and a lot of work, and as long as they’re ready for the journey we’ll have books for them!” 

We are delighted to continue our Navajo Nation Book Drive after completing the initial pledge of 100,000 books this May. Our work with the Navajo Nation is supported by the Fordham Street Foundation, Exclusive Car Services, the Office of the First Lady, and all of our volunteers, donors and supporters.

If you would like to support the work we do, please visit the “Lend a Hand” section of our website to learn more about holding a book drive and how to donate to Reader to Reader.