World Book Day Dedication Expands Costa Rica’s Academia Teocali’s Library by 800%

Judith’s Reading Room Establishes Presence in Central America Thirty years ago, Costa Rica’s Guanacastean people, who wanted their children to have private bilingual education had to send them four hours away to Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. Today, in celebration of World Book Day, that is not an issue, thanks to concerned parents who built a school now ranked in the top 30 in Latin America’s oldest democracy.

Like many schools around the world, it is hard enough to acquire children’s books in the local language; it is nearly impossible to secure children’s books in English. To date, Judith’s Reading Room has stepped in to fill that gap in six countries outside the U.S. including Afghanistan, Albania, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and now Costa Rica.

Judith’s Reading Room was approached by an American teacher at Academia Teocali, Deirdre Limoges, a native of New Jersey, who requested a custom collection of children’s books in English to support the efforts of Teocali’s English program. “Promoting literacy and the love of reading is one of our most significant goals,” said Patricia Soto, English Coordinator. “Academia Teocali’s academic standards are high and steadfast and our English program is greatly ambitious,” she added.

Ms. Limoges informed Judith’s Reading Room that the existing library contained just 20 English language children’s books. This donation will impact 150 students, all of whom are viewed as Costa Rica’s future leaders. During her recent home visit, Ms. Limoges visited Judith’s Reading Room and personally hand-picked 182 books with a cover price value of $1,337 that she understood to be ideal for the students. She brought them back to Costa Rica in her luggage and thus increased the size of the school’s English language library by 800%.

News out of Nigeria – New shipment of children’s books to Yola By-Pass

Photos and a letter from Karon K. Harden, Academic Liaison for Community Engagement and Service Learning at the American University of Nigera, Yola By-Pass News for Nigeria - children inspecting the packages of books

I am happy to report that thanks to the books we received from the March 2013 shipment from Judith’s Reading Room, we were able to inaugurate our STELLAR project lending library yesterday.

The 70 books were distributed to 35 pupils that we tutor in primary grades 3 and 4 at Musdafa Model Primary School here in Yola. Each pupil took home 2 books. As you can see from the photos, I carefully “packaged” each book in a Hefty Ziploc Freezer bag for extra protection in transit. We want them to last as long as possible (but I’d rather they get dirty being read than stay clean on a shelf somewhere!). I also sent home a laminated letter in Hausa and English with each book explaining the program to the parents and asking them for their support in helping the children to read and to take care of the books. The tutors will also be asking each child about their books when they bring them back. News From Nigeria - books to take home!

We tutor these pupils every Monday and Wednesday. The pupils will bring their books back at each tutoring session and exchange them for another … In all we tutor up to 400 pupils per semester, so the more books the merrier.

I hope these pictures help me express my gratitude for your generosity.

An added note, from a correspondence after the the photos were received…I’m glad you like the pictures. By the way, in this culture, people are not taught to smile for pictures like we are – in fact, the default is a straight face, so if you see some of the children straight-faced, don’t think that they are mad or grumpy or anything. I kept telling them to smile, and they kept trying NOT to smile! 🙂

Karon K. Harden
Academic Liaison for Community Engagement and Service Learning
Lecturer, Communication Studies
American University of Nigeria

Website: www.aun.edu.ng

Judith’s Reading Room Intern, Erin D’Amilio named Fulbright Scholar!

Our 2012-2013 intern, Erin D’Amelio, a senior at Lafayette College, learned today that she has been named Fulbright Scholar. Erin will travel to Malaysia in January 2014 to serve as an English teaching assistant as a part of the Fulbright’s U.S. Student Program. Erin will assemble a hand-picked collection of children’s books from the Judith’s Reading Room collection to transport with her to Malaysia to establish a library in her honor.

Erin served as intern at Judith’s Reading Room last summer and worked on several major projects including our 2012 Report to the Community, a library dedication at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital and implementation of Judith’s Reading Room’s Banned Books Week project for which we were named one of eight nationwide award recipients of the American Library Association’s Krug Award. She has continued to support the organization and will resume working at Judith’s Reading Room following her graduation.

Congratulations to Erin from everyone at Judith’s Reading Room!

Book Donation Aimed at Young Veterans with Children

Judith’s Reading Room Military Program Expands to New York – Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization that serves active-duty military and returning vets, expands to New York.  Canandaigua VA, New York, is the eighth VA hospital to join its “VA 100” book donation program.

The latest request for books came from the library at Canandaigua VA, southeast of Rochester, New York, where the hospital is seeing more young men and women veterans with children who are currently returning from active duty and utilizing the services of the VA.

The organization will ship 50 new and gently-read children’s books every other month beginning in April to Canandaigua VA in honor of Doris Leiber, mother of Co-Founder, Scott Leiber.  Doris, a native New Yorker, member of the Greatest Generation, Navy veteran, WWII, where she served as a WAVE based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and mother of five, will turn 90 in August.  “This donation in honor of my mother will enrich lives by providing books to those that do not have access to them,” said Leiber.  “Doris Leiber — a member of the Greatest Generation continues to give service through the gift of these books,” he added.

Judith’s Reading Room launched its “VA 100” Program in November 2010 when it began shipping 100 paperback books each month to interested VA hospitals.  The idea was inspired by several board members who wanted to honor the veterans in their families.  Since November 2010, the organization has shipped 9,507 books worth $81,438 to eight VA hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

The VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa was the first VA hospital to sign up for the “VA 100” Program.  Other VA hospitals followed:  Coatesville Veteran’s Hospital, the VA in Altoona,  Butler Health Care and the PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Pennsylvania; and the VA in East Orange, New Jersey.  This month, Judith’s Reading Room expanded to two New York VA hospitals:  the VA at Albany and Canandaigua VA.