Judith’s Reading Room Announces the “Founders’ Award”

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room Announces the “Founders’ Award”

In honor of literacy heroes everywhere who nourish souls and fulfill dreams

 

September 18, 2022 —  Judith’s Reading Room announced today its newest Award — the Founders’ Award, a cash prize at the discretion of its founders, Scott & Cathy Leiber, to honor literacy heroes who have had to overcome immense obstacles in order to enrich lives through literacy.

Judith’s Reading Room names two winners of the inaugural 2022 Founders’ Award:  Ms. Basarat Kazim, Lehore, Pakistan and Ms. Simon Ke, Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Each is awarded a cash prize of $1,000.

Ms. Basarat Kazim, Alif Laila Book Bus Society, Lehore, Pakistan


 

 

(L) Ms. Basarat Kazim, President, Alif Laila Book Bus Society, Lehore, Pakistan.  (R) Judith’s Reading Room’s 101st library:  The Camel Library shown here with Murad, camel driver and Roshan, camel with children in Mand, Pakistan.       

Our friendship with Basarat dates back to 2015 when she was awarded the first Freedom Through Literacy Award Grand Prize.  Subsequently, in 2020, Judith’s Reading Room dedicated with Kazim its 101st library — our first-ever mobile library to utilize a camel to deliver books to children.  “Our” camel driver, Murad, and his camel named Roshan carried 500 children’s books to the nearly impossible to reach community of Balochistan in southwest Pakistan.

We thought that was terrible.  Today, a third of Pakistan is underwater amid its worst floods in history.

Recently, Basarat wrote:

“My friend, the floods are horrendous and are continuing to wipe away buildings, homes, people. Such a sad and depressing time. Alif Laila is reaching out to our friends and partners in the affected areas and sending in supplies for children; books, dry food, play material, and medicines head the list.  Schools are closed in Balochistan right now. Roshan (camel) and Murad (camel driver) remain safe. Thank you once again my dear sister/ friend for caring and being there for Alif Laila and the children of Pakistan always.”

In honor of Basarat’s commitment to play her part in overcoming the devastating impact of the deadly flooding, she receives a Founders’ Award in the amount of $1,000.

Ms. Simon Ke, Siem Reap, Cambodia


 

 

(L) Ms. Simon Ke, Executive Director, Anjali House, Siem Reap, Cambodia.  (R) Teacher with children practicing reading aloud.

In 2013, Judith’s Reading Room established a library containing 87 children’s books at Anjali House in Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat.  Anjali House serves destitute children.

Fast forward to 2021, Anjali House applied for the organization’s Freedom Through Literacy Award, but as their project described something not yet realized, it did not qualify for a cash prize.  However, Judith’s Reading Room awarded Anjali House a 2021 “Honorable Mention” designation intended to encourage the organization and to pursue its dream.

Particularly hard-hit by the exponential growth in COVID-19 cases, Cambodia’s poor have suffered disproportionately.  Throughout, Simon Ke and her colleagues never abandoned hope for their Mobile Library project.

Recently, Simon Ke reported:

“In 2021 we won Honorable Mention for our Mobile Library and Distance Learning program during COVID. Due to government restrictions, we were unable to run the activity for 2021. Finally in 2022, restrictions began to lift. Luckily, in July we received funding to design our own mobile library cart and restart this project.  While the cart is still being constructed, we have been able to rent a tuk-tuk and take our library materials to the community twice so far.  We run the mobile library on Sundays and connect with the commune chief, who helps us select the area and gather the children. Right now, our young adult students are helping conduct the activities. Children have time to explore books on their own, do a group reading activity, and end with a fun activity or game. 

We plan to go into the community every Sunday for the rest of the year, and hopefully next!   Thank you supporting our library, which has allowed this to be possible.”

In honor of Anjali House’s determination and perseverance in the face of a global pandemic, Simon Ke receives a 2022 Founders’ Award in the amount of $1,000.

 

Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization, was established in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, by her first cousins, Scott and Cathy Leiber. Judy served as Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association where for over 40 years she was a critic of censorship and a proponent of the freedom of speech.

In 2022,  Judith’s Reading Room’s founders initiated the Founders’ Award in recognition of the indisputable civic significance of exceptional individuals who continue to foster a love of reading despite all odds.

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging Freedom Through Literacy.  The organization has, to date, dedicated 103 curated libraries in 22 countries with nearly 132,000 books worth over $1.4 million.  It’s signature Freedom Through Literacy Award was established in 2015 and to date has honored 47 champions of literacy from 14 countries with cash prizes totaling $48,500.  “The Founders’ Award is one more way to honor the amazing work of literacy champions around the world to build community and collaboration,” said Scott Leiber, co-founder.

 

 

2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award Winners Announced

Jamaica, NY Educator and a Municipal Librarian in Romania Captured Top Awards

Grand Prize Award – $2,500

Fayola Fair – “Reading for Black Lives Project”
JAMAICA, QUEENS, NEW YORK

“Literacy is an essential aspect of social change and liberation.” So declares 24-year-old Fayola Fair, educator, community organizer, and our 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Grand Prize Winner.
 
Fair’s “Reading for Black Lives Project” aims to promote this belief by providing sustainable access to free books and literacy resources by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) for their communities in and outside New York City. Her efforts include organizing pop-up book fairs to funding books by Black authors to hosting an annual Free Book Fair in Queens. An essential element running through them all is access, relevance, and inclusion for communities who historically have not seen their lives and stories represented in books.
 
The “Reading Through Black Lives Project” has already distributed over 1,000 books and supported over 26 Black-owned bookstores, even earning a 2021 NYC Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Community Service. We are honored to contribute to Fair’s tireless commitment to her community with the 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Grand Prize.
 
“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue providing free books and literary resources to my community. Receiving the Grand Prize for the 2022 Freedom through Literacy Award allows me to expand this work and continue to reimagine the impact of the Reading for Black Lives Project on BIPOC communities across NYC and beyond. Overall, working to support our learning to sustain our liberation.”         Fayola Fair

 “Judith’s Award” awarded to the champion of literacy teacher, librarian or author

Judith’s Award – $1,500

Dominique Zara – “Ready for Life”
RESITA, ROMANIA

If you meet librarian Dominique Zara, winner of our 2022 Judith’s Award, you will marvel at her humility and enthusiasm. Committed to supporting the more vulnerable members of her community, she is credited with building the only English learning program at her library in Romania. More than 270 children have benefited from the engaging, creative library activities she’s organized and even more children have borrowed books to enjoy at home. And yet, ask Zara about her work, and she’d admit, “I wasn’t convinced that my actions [were] worthy of such an award.”
 
We are thrilled to change her mind by recognizing Dominique Zara as winner of the 2022 Judith’s Award for her investment in the education and lives of socially vulnerable families and Roma children. Her library programs have brought out smiles and laughter of Resita’s young children and continues to lift the English and Roma skills of its community. We believe that is definitely  worth celebrating.
 
“The Librarian who wanted to become a police officer …. In the last year, I understood that my job is just as important as the job of a doctor, teacher, firefighter or policeman. I understood that we too, the librarians, can save souls, or even more correctly, we can fulfill dreams. Whether we are talking about a child’s dream, the farmer’s dream or any library user. But, being named the 2022 Judith’s Award winner … it totally overwhelms me. In my 21 years as a librarian, this is the first recognition of my efforts for literacy.” – Dominique Zara
 

 2022 Board Option prizes:

The next level of awards is completely at the discretion of Judith’s Reading Room Board Members.   Each year a total of $1,000 — to be divided depending on the number of high-scoring applicants — is set aside for Board Option Awards.. The winners of the 2022 Board Option Award are:

Board Option Award – $200

Dr. Lisette Caesar – “Book Vending Machine”
EAST HARLEM, NEW YORK

 
A Judith’s Reading Room Honorable Mention awardee in 2021, Lisette Caesar is recognized with a Board Option Award for her unrelenting optimism and passion to build a reading culture during her tenure as principal at Mosaic Prep Academy. Her newsworthy project, “Book Vending Machine,” capitalizes on a reward system to honor good citizenship with tokens that are used to “purchase” a new book, much like one would purchase a candy bar out of a vending machine. Her incredible and inspiring project has been shared with at least five other principals and we are sure to see its impact grow.
 
“Literacy breaks down the barriers that poverty builds. My goal is to create literate communities so that all children have a chance at success.”        Dr. Lisette Caesar

Board Option Award – $200

Lisa Tedeschi Vergara – “Literacy Through Art of the Book”
NEEDHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

 
Walk into a place that Lisa Tedeschi Vergara’s work has touched, and you’ll understand why we  have given her a Board Option Award. Her beautifully crafted decoupage book-themed chairs, commissioned for public spaces, give children the chance to “read” the story emblazoned on the chair while they crawl around and sit on it. Nearly 40 chairs have brought joy to communities across the state of Massachusetts, and we celebrate Vergara’s unique spin on promoting literacy.
 
“It is an honor to be named a 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Award winner. Through my literacy work I am able to provide learning lifelines and resources to children and families who need them the most. The grassroots nature of my work generates dependable and adaptable services for community advancement.” – Lisa Tedeschi Vergara

Board Option Award – $200

Jennifer Williams – “Second Chance Book Club”
DANVILLE, VIRGINIA

 
Back in 2019, Jennifer Williams founded the Second Chance Book Club with the goal of spreading the love of reading and getting books into the hands of people in need; in this case, incarcerated women at the Danville City Jail. Since starting the book club, 128 inmates have read and discussed 75 books as of August 2022. We recognize Williams’ selfless determination and outreach to provide these inmates insight into another world of hope and beauty with a 2022 Board Option Award.
 
“Giving books away has brought great joy. Watching a reader choose something appealing is a happy moment that very little compares to in my life.” – Jennifer Williams

Board Option Award – $200

Pamela Laskin – “Poetry at the Border”
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK


Pamela Laskin, a lecturer at City College, established “Poetry
at the Border” to encourage children whose families are seeking asylum to write poetry about their experiences. Poetry enables children to understand trauma following horrible events like hurricanes (Puerto Rico), children who are escaping atrocities (Honduras, Nicaragua and Myanmar), and children who are surviving life while housed in camps at the border. For her work to enable children to unload their grief and to empower voices through poetry, we honor Laskin with a 2022 Board Option Award.
 
“Your silence will not protect you.”; Audre Lorde. “Thank you, Cathy Leiber, on behalf of Judith’s Room, and also thank you to the board for awarding me the Board Option award for my work engaging children, at the border and the Ukraine, in the art and craft of writing poetry. This significant literacy work will help give poetic voice to children in refugee camps and children in the Ukraine (a war-torn country). Poetry Outreach is grateful to expand literacy and also hope-through poetry–to children facing these challenges.” Pamela Laskin

Board Option Award – $200

Lisa Gerard – “Little Read Wagon”
NORMAN, OKLAHOMA

 
No matter where you look in Norman, Oklahoma, you’re likely to find Lisa Gerard and her Little Read Wagon. Gerard has offered free books at community free events, establishes “libraries” in laundromats and hides books in 65 public parks. For her efforts, we name Lisa as a Board Option Award winner to celebrate her work towards building Norman into a reading community.
 
“This year, Little Read Wagon adopted the hashtag #communitythroughbooks. This is a perfect description of our work in three words. It is the connections we make with people when we share books and stories with them that fuel our work with literacy. Winning a Board Option Award from Judith’s Reading Room for the second year in a row increases our visibility in the community, gets more books to kids and inspires us by making us aware of other winning literacy projects around the world.” – Lisa Gerard
 

2022 Honorable Mentions

 
Finally, Honorable Mention Awards (no cash award) are given to those applicants who the judges want to acknowledge and think deserve encouragement.  The idea behind the Honorable Mention Awards is to propel the applicants to continue their literacy efforts and to apply for future Freedom Through Literacy Awards.
 

Toti Jean Marc Yale – “Reading First”
ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST

For Yale’s outreach to help eradicate illiteracy in his West African nation, we wish to give him global recognition and encouragement through an Honorable Mention.
 
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Lacking basic reading and writing skills is a tremendous disadvantage. Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, but it creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves and their family. Thank you very much, Judith’s Reading Room, for the good job you are doing across the world that is transforming the life of many kids through their reading skill development.” – Toti Jean Marc Yale

Children’s Home of Easton – “Book Club for At-Risk Youth”
EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA

 
 
We honor Marlene Arnholt with an Honorable Mention for maintaining Children’s Home of Easton’s selection of over 4,000 books and a monthly Book Club that help make a “home” for traumatized youth.
 
“Providing a love match between readers and books has been my preoccupation and passion since my involvement with the residents at The Children’s Home of Easton began many years ago. Our basic premise is simple: make books of different genres, subjects and popularity easily accessible to every resident and make certain they know there are many more books than are actually displayed. Then, find a way to build on those interests through introductions to like-minded readers. At that point … the sky is truly the limit!”         
   – Marlene Arnholt

The 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award winners will be acknowledged at an invitation-only ZOOM Award Celebration on Sunday, September 18th.

 

 

Judith’s Reading Room, a literacy nonprofit organization, was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founder’s first cousin, Judith F.  Krug, who served as Director of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association for 40 years. The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 103 libraries (and counting!) in 22 countries with 131,000 books worth over $1.4 million.

The Freedom Through Literacy Award, now in its 8th year, has disbursed
$48,500 in cash awards to 47 champions of literacy. Winners hail from 14 countries: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines,   Romania, Rwanda, the U.S.A. and Zimbabwe. Winners from the U.S.A. come from 9 states: Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
 
We are so proud of the tireless efforts of everyone involved and joyously celebrate their victories. We are all inspired by the same mission: championing freedom through literacy.

The 2023 FREEDOM THROUGH LITERACY AWARD APPLICATION WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE IN NOVEMBER 2022.

2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award Winners Announced Press Release

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

2022 Freedom Through Literacy Awards Announced

Jamaica, NY Educator and a Municipal Librarian in Romania Captured Top Awards

July 22, 2022 — Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy nonprofit organization, established in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, announces the winners of its annual Freedom Through Literacy Award.
“Applications this year were among the most competitive, global and creative since the Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated in 2015,” stated Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.  The predominant theme of this year’s applications was:  to increase book and literacy access to underserved and marginalized populations.
2022 Grand Prize Winner
Faola Fair (she/they), New York City high school teacher, Grand Prize Winner, 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award.  Fair, a 23-year-old educator and community organizer from Jamaica, New York dominated the field of applicants with her multi-dimensional literacy initiative, “The Reading for Black Lives Project,” garnering the $2,500 top prize award.
  Fair is a graduate of Lafayette College and Columbia University’s Teachers College.   The aim of the “Reading for Black Lives Project” is to provide sustainable access to free books and literary resources by Black, Indigenous and people of color ((B)IPOC authors for (B)IPOC communities, specifically highlighting and centering the history and knowledge of Black people across the diaspora.  Fair’s efforts uplift the community through literacy and eliminate the barriers to access for books by marginalized authors in a way that is both novel and sustainable including book pop-ups that offer free books to the community, the Black Book Fund that supports Black-owned bookstores and the Queens Free Book Fair for All.  “Literacy is an essential aspect of social change and liberation,” said Fair.
2022 Judith’s Award Winner
Ms. Dominique Zara, municipal librarian, Resita, Romania wins the 2022 Freedom Through Literacy “Judith’s Award.”  Zara, a 20-year career Resita Municipal Librarian, wins the coveted Judith’s Award and a cash prize of $1,500.
The Judith’s Award is named in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian and first cousin to the organization’s founders.  Zara’s project, “Ready for Life” offers free English classes for children 3-14 years old who do not attend school, children from socially vulnerable families and Roma children.  Zara is credited with building the only English learning program in Romania among less fortunate children.  In 2014, with the help of Judith’s Reading Room, she established five Judith’s Reading Room libraries serving 70,000 residents.  Three of those libraries survive to this day.   She says, “my goal is to demonstrate that a library is an indispensable asset in a city and that librarians can do great things for all citizens.”
The next level of awards is completely at the discretion of Judith’s Reading Room Board Members.   Each year a total of $1,000 — to be divided depending on the number of high-scoring applicants — is set aside for Board Option Awards.
2022 Board Option Award Winners
Dr. Lisette Caesar, past principal and founder of Mosaic Preparatory Academy, East Harlem, NY.  Caesar, a Judith’s Reading Room Honorable Mention awardee in 2021, is recognized for her unrelenting optimism and passion to build a reading culture at her Title 1  school that serves a large population living in temporary housing.  Her newsworthy project, “Book Vending Machine” capitalizes on a reward system to honor good citizenship with tokens that are used to “purchase” a new book, much like one would purchase a candy bar out of a vending machine.  Her brainchild, the “Book Vending Machine” project has been shared with at least five other principals. In recognition of Dr. Lisette’s devotion as founder and principal of Mosaic Preparatory Academy, where the youngest of scholars are prepared for college, Caesar wins a 2022 Board Option Award in the amount of $200.
Ms. Lisa Gerard, founder, Little Read Wagon, Norman, Oklahoma.  For the 2nd year in a row, Gerard is named a Board Option Award winner. As founder of “Little Read Wagon, Gerard is recognized for her work to close the literacy gap in her community by distributing free books through multiple, creative outreach programs in Oklahoma.  No place is off base for Gerard:  she offers free books at community free events, establishes “libraries” in laundromats and hides books in 65 public parks.  Gerard wins a 2022 Board Option Award in the amount of $200 for her commitment to meet the literacy needs of all who will benefit from book ownership and to increase the number of literate community citizens in Oklahoma.
Ms. Pamela Laskin, poet, author, lecturer, and director of New York City’s 50-year-old Poetry Outreach Center.   Laskin’s work with Poetry Outreach is distinctive:  MFA students are sent into under-served communities in NYC in order to write and publish poetry.  A new initiative, “Poetry at the Border,” will encourage children whose families are seeking asylum to write poetry about their experience.  In this manner, she helps children deal with trauma following horrible events like hurricanes (Puerto Rico), children who are escaping atrocities (Honduras, Nicaragua and Myanmar), and children who are surviving life while housed in camps at the border.   For her work to enable children to unload their grief and to empower marginalized voices through poetry, Laskin wins a 2022 Board Option Award in the amount of $200.
Ms. Lisa Tedeschi Vergara, nonprofit founder, Storytime Crafts, Needham, MA.  Vergara’s “Literacy Through Art of the Book” illustrates the power of literacy through art.  Her beautifully crafted decoupage book-themed chairs (that are commissioned for public spaces) spread the joy of reading in a unique way.  Vergara understands that art engages children in a similar way to reading:  both require concentration, focus, observation of details and thoughtful conclusions.  Her chairs draw the attention of children, who “read” a story emblazoned on the chair, while crawling around the chair and sitting in it. “The foundation of early literacy is instilling a love of reading so children gain the confidence to reach their full potential, achieve one’s dreams and become powerful thinkers,” states Vergara.  For her joyous and creative approach to getting children to see a book in a new way, Vergara wins a 2022 Board Option Award in the amount of $200.
Ms. Jennifer Williams, founder “Second Chance Book Club” at Danville City Jail, Danville, VA., former teacher and guardian of 40 Little Free Libraries.  In 2019, Williams founded the“Second Chance Book Club” for incarcerated women at the Danville City Jail.  Under Williams’ leadership, 124 inmates (and counting) have read and discussed 71 books, including favorites like The Life We Bury, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Monday’s Not Coming.   Her commitment to inmates continues after they are released with “Second Chance Freedom,” a book group that meets once a month for dinner.  Williams set an ambitious goal in 2017 to get one million books into the hands of people in need.  For her determination to encourage a love of reading and for her enduring commitment to female inmates and formerly incarcerated women, Williams wins a 2022 Board Option Award in the amount of $200.
Finally, Honorable Mention Awards (no cash award) are given to those applicants who the judges want to acknowledge and think deserve encouragement.  The idea behind the Honorable Mention Awards is to propel the applicants to continue their literacy efforts and to apply for future Freedom Through Literacy Awards.
2022 Honorable Mentions
Mr. Toti Jean Marc Yale, CEO and founder of nonprofit Education and English for You, “Reading First,” Abidjan, Ivory Coast.  Yale’s project, “Reading First” promotes free book giveaways and reading of quality literacy starting with toddlers from disadvantaged family backgrounds.  The organization promotes gender equality and English on a voluntary basis.  For Yale’s outreach to international organizations and programs to help eradicate illiteracy in his West African nation, Judith’s Reading Room, through the 2022 Honorable Mention designation, wishes to give Yale global recognition and encouragement.
Ms. Anita Jo Paukovits, Executive Director, Children’s Home of Easton (CHE), Easton, PA.  CHE, a “home away from home” has served neglected, traumatized, and abused youth throughout the state of PA since 1885.  In 2012, in collaboration with Judith’s Reading Room, CHE staff member Marlene Arnholt, established a monthly Book Group,“The Children’s Home of Easton Book Club for At-Risk Youth” that brings residents together to “get lost” in the world of reading and imagination.  Judith’s Reading Room honors Marlene and her colleagues at CHE for maintaining a selection of over 4,000 books that help make CHE a ‘home’ for these youth.  In their honor, Paukovits and Arnholt are designated a 2022 Honorable Mention.
The 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award winners will be acknowledged at an invitation-only ZOOM Award Celebration on Sunday, September 18th.
Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging Freedom Through Literacy.  To date, the organization has fulfilled that mission by establishing 103 libraries (and counting!) in 22 countries with 131,000 books worth over $1.4 million.
The Freedom Through Literacy Award was initiated in 2015 as the organization’s signature event.  Including the 2022 winners, the organization will have disbursed $48,500 in cash awards to 47 champions of literacy.  Winners hail from 14 countries:  Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, the U.S.A. and Zimbabwe.  Winners from the U.S.A. come from 9 states:  Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
To learn more about Judith’s Reading Room, visit the website at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  Applications for the 2023 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted January 2023.

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2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award!

Announcement of 2022 Champions of Literacy COMING SOON!

Judith’s Reading Room is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 8th annual Freedom Through Literacy Awards. Deadline for submissions was July 1. Winners will be announced end-July and will be honored at an exclusive online event Sunday, September 18.

Judith’s Reading Room, a non-profit literacy organization, founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian — through this signature event — recognizes the achievements of teachers, librarians, poets, writers, booksellers, educators and literacy not-for-profit organizations. Applicants are judged on five criteria including how their philosophy about literacy guides their work.

The organization’s $5,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated in 2015 to pay tribute to those on the front line of literacy. The 2022 Awards include $2,500 for the Grand Prize Winner and $1,500 for the Judith’s Award Winner. And, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, up to four applicants may share a Board Option Prize, totaling $1,000.

To date, the organization has awarded $43,500 in Freedom Through Literacy Award prize money to 40 individual winners in 12 countries: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the U.S.A. and Zimbabwe. Winners hail from 7 different US states.

The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries in 22 countries with 131,470 books donated worth over $1.4 million.

2021 Holiday Book Drive ….Books Not Toys, For a Change *UPDATED*

Books Not Toys, For a Change..Info & Updates
Barnes & Noble Patrons in Wyomissing Help Improve Lives

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501(c)3 based in eastern PA was selected — for the 2nd year in a row — as the Barnes & Noble Wyomissing PA 2021 Holiday Book Drive Charity.  From November 1st, and running straight through the holiday season — patrons at the location were able to donate a book or two at checkout for a child in need and forever change that child’s life.

As an alternative to the expected toy shortage this holiday season, Judith’s Reading Room suggests that families consider buying books not toys — books for your family and for families who cannot afford to buy them.  Barnes & Noble makes this act of generosity easy.

“Since Judith’s Reading Room’s inception in 2010, Barnes & Noble has placed confidence in our ability to get donated books into the hands of less fortunate children here and around the world,” noted Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.  She added, “It is impossible to state how emotional it is for families to receive new books.”

Barnes and Noble Holiday Book Drive for Judith’s Reading room UPDATES!

Thank you for all of these wonderful photos! They really tug on the booksellers’ heartstrings when they look through them!
Michael Burger
Barnes & Noble
Wyomissing PA 2021
@BNReadingPA

APRIL 24, 2022 …

Where does the time go?  We finally have our Cat Tales- Kids Reading to Cats program back in full swing.

As promised. I am sending you some photos of the kiddos reading the Barnes and Nobles books that your organization donated to us.  The first photo is of a group of Girl Scouts that came to read to the cats and were delighted to see all the new books to choose from.  I had them hold up some of their favorites for the photo.

I’ve attached several photos of our readers in action.  …most of the photos had to be taken through the windows of the rooms so we didn’t disturb the readers or the cats.  In one of the photos you’ll see how the kittens all swarmed around the little boy reading to them.  In another photo you will see a black kitten trying to escape in the backpack of one of the readers.  Don’t worry we check backpacks, purses and sweatshirts with large pockets before anyone leaves the shelter to make sure they don’t have a stow-away with them.  Many times the reader has to do double duty –reading and petting at the same time.   Enjoy!
Thanks again for sending us the books.
Karen Brown
Caring for Cats

FEBRUARY 28, 2022 … These are the photos (and video!) from Resita City, Romania. This wraps up the sharing of the distribution of the 2022 Holiday Book Drive books Judith’s Reading Room donated thanks to the generosity of patrons at the Wyomissing Barnes & Noble – thanks always to Michael and his B&N colleagues.

FEBRUARY 17, 2022 … Photos of Barnes & Noble books we donated to award-winning teacher, Joicki Floyd, East Side High School, Newark, NJ.  Joicki tells us the 10th and 12th grade students “were excited” and “chose their own book.”

FEBRUARY 1, 2022… Fantastic — adorable — inspiring photos from our 2020 Grand Prize Freedom Through Literacy Award winner, Chris McGilvery, in Texas! Please see the video for the children’s lovely thank you!

JANUARY 30, 2022… Here photos from Rev. Dr. Leoda Topps, pastor of the SME Church in Mississippi.
Dr. Topps, a Ph.D. In Education, helps children with their homework after school.

JANUARY 27, 2022… The books arrived in Chinle, AZ, Navajo Nation…finally! The woman in the photo is Alvira, who put the books from Barnes & Noble into the temporary, first-ever, mobile library on the reservation, that serves 128,000 residents.

JANUARY 24, 2022…  Photos of books being distributed by Little Read Wagon, Norman, Oklahoma.

JANUARY 21, 2022… Please see these exceptional photos of books — donated during the 2021 Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive — that were shipped and received by Derek Witmer’s 2nd grade in Harrisburg. We are thrilled that the books are loved so much!


JANUARY 21, 2022… Below please see a few photos from Mosaic Preparatory Academy. The generous books from Barnes & Noble have made a noticeable difference there!

Hi Cathy!
Please find attached the photos of the wonderful book donations you provided us through Barnes and Noble!
In the photos is one of our scholars who “purchased” a SpongeBob book, our library display so that kids could browse the new books for the vending machine, and some of the books featured in the vending machine!
Thank you so much for your generous donations. The kids are so excited!
Ariel
Professor Ariel Birdoff (she/they)
School Library Media Specialist
Mosaic Preparatory Academy

JANUARY 19, 2022… JRR donated 46 YA books to Children’s Home of Easton yesterday.  The books were hand-picked out of the generous 2021 Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive.  In May, 2012, JRR established a library at CHE with an initial donation of 450 books.  An important part of that donation was the commitment to support their first-ever Book Group.  Each month for years, JRR bought 10 copies of a book they chose for this literacy-rich experience.  The Book Group is still alive and well all these years later thanks to the superb dedication of CHE’s Marlene Arnholt.

JANUARY 11, 2022… Attached are photos from Harkins House, a juvenile residential center near Portland, Oregon where many YA books were sent. Thank you again to Barnes & Noble for selecting Judith’s Reading Room as their 2021 Holiday Book Drive Charity.

JANUARY 8, 2022 … These photos are ADORABLE!!  Thank you very much for sending them.  And, thank you for following up with photos of the children reading aloud to the kitties!

NOVEMBER 19, 2021...Thank You…Thank You…Thank you…to all the holiday shoppers who have purchased books for Judith’s Reading Room. So far, five large boxes have been picked up and will be sent to many of our libraries and Freedom Through Literacy Award winners throughout the world. Thank you Barnes and Noble, Wyomissing, PA for choosing us as your holiday charity.

2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award!

Announcement of 2022 Champions of Literacy COMING SOON!

Judith’s Reading Room is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 8th annual Freedom Through Literacy Awards. Deadline for submissions was July 1. Winners will be announced end-July and will be honored at an exclusive online event Sunday, September 18.

Judith’s Reading Room, a non-profit literacy organization, founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian — through this signature event — recognizes the achievements of teachers, librarians, poets, writers, booksellers, educators and literacy not-for-profit organizations. Applicants are judged on five criteria including how their philosophy about literacy guides their work.

The organization’s $5,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated in 2015 to pay tribute to those on the front line of literacy. The 2022 Awards include $2,500 for the Grand Prize Winner and $1,500 for the Judith’s Award Winner. And, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, up to four applicants may share a Board Option Prize, totaling $1,000.

To date, the organization has awarded $43,500 in Freedom Through Literacy Award prize money to 40 individual winners in 12 countries: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the U.S.A. and Zimbabwe. Winners hail from 7 different US states.

The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries in 22 countries with 131,470 books donated worth over $1.4 million.

Judith’s Reading Room at Mosaic Preparatory Academy

On Friday, Feb. 11th, Scott and Cathy Leiber represented Judith’s Reading Room, the non-profit that made the day long event at  Mosaic Preparatory Academy featuring author Ty Jackson.

Bringing together 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Judith’s Award Winner, Ty Allan Jackson and 2021 Honorable Mention winner Lisette Caesar.

Setting up at Mosaic Preparatory Academy, East Harlem, getting set up with librarian Ariel Birdoff and Ty Allan Jackson.

Kids raise hands because they like money!

On Giving Tuesday. Pennsylvania Non-Profit Packs Book Vending Machine at Mosaic Prep Academy in East Harlem, NY

On this Giving Tuesday, Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization based in eastern Pennsylvania with offices in New York City, joined hands with its 2021 Freedom Through Literacy Award winner, Dr. Lisette Caesar, Principal, Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem to “stuff” her school’s first-of-its-kind Book Vending Machine with 50 children’s books.

Judith’s Reading Room donated the books thanks to generous patrons at the Wyomissing, PA Barnes & Noble.  That store chose Judith’s Reading Room for the 2nd year in a row as its “Holiday Book Drive Charity.”  Mosaic Prep Academy is just one of a a dozen recipient organizations that Judith’s Reading Room has selected to receive the donated books. Today’s Giving Tuesday gift of 50 hand-picked books is valued at $436.

The Book Vending Machine is the brainchild of Dr. Caesar in response to her students’ less than enthusiastic passion for reading following the shutdown of schools as a result of COVID-19.  To spark a renewed passion for reading, scholars earn coupons for being good Samaritans or for reading a certain number of books.  They exchange coupons for a token to unlock a book of their choice from the bright blue Book Vending Machine.  

To entice even the youngest scholars, Judith’s Reading Room selected “I Can Read!” books as well as Caldecott Medal winners such as Drummer Hoff, and all-time favorites including The Story of Ferdinand and The Runaway Bunny.  “The key to excite a child to read is simple.  “You need to give them books that they want to read, that they choose to read,” stated Cathy Leiber, President and Co-Founder, Judith’s Reading Room.

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries in 22 countries with nearly 131,000 books donated worth over $1.4 million. Its annual Freedom Through Literacy Award offers cash prizes to champions of literacy around the world.  Visit www.judithsreadingroom.org to learn more about previous winners and how to apply for the 2022 Award beginning in early January 2022.

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2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award Announced

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award Announced
Organization Seeks Champions of Literacy

January 3, 2022 — Judith’s Reading Room is pleased to announce its 8th annual Freedom Through Literacy Awards. There is no cost to apply and it is open to champions of literacy from around the world. Apply now for the 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Award at www.judithsreadingroom.org/freedom-through-literacy-award. Deadline for submissions is July 1. Winners will be announced end-July and will be honored at an exclusive online event Sunday, September 18.

Judith’s Reading Room, a non-profit literacy organization, founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian — through this signature event — recognizes the achievements of teachers, librarians, poets, writers, booksellers, educators and literacy not-for-profit organizations. Applicants are judged on five criteria including how their philosophy about literacy guides their work.

The organization’s $5,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated in 2015 to pay tribute to those on the front line of literacy. The 2022 Awards include $2,500 for the Grand Prize Winner and $1,500 for the Judith’s Award Winner. And, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, up to four applicants may share a Board Option Prize, totaling $1,000.

To date, the organization has awarded $43,500 in Freedom Through Literacy Award prize money to 40 individual winners in 12 countries: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the U.S.A. and Zimbabwe. Winners hail from 7 different US states.

The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries in 22 countries with 131,470 books donated worth over $1.4 million.

** END **

Judith’s Reading Room Packs Book Vending Machine

On Giving Tuesday. Pennsylvania Non-Profit Packs Book Vending Machine at Mosaic Prep Academy in East Harlem, NY

On this Giving Tuesday, Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization based in eastern Pennsylvania with offices in New York City, joined hands with its 2021 Freedom Through Literacy Award winner, Dr. Lisette Caesar, Principal, Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem to “stuff” her school’s first-of-its-kind Book Vending Machine with 50 children’s books.

Judith’s Reading Room donated the books thanks to generous patrons at the Wyomissing, PA Barnes & Noble.  That store chose Judith’s Reading Room for the 2nd year in a row as its “Holiday Book Drive Charity.”  Mosaic Prep Academy is just one of a a dozen recipient organizations that Judith’s Reading Room has selected to receive the donated books. Today’s Giving Tuesday gift of 50 hand-picked books is valued at $436.

The Book Vending Machine is the brainchild of Dr. Caesar in response to her students’ less than enthusiastic passion for reading following the shutdown of schools as a result of COVID-19.  To spark a renewed passion for reading, scholars earn coupons for being good Samaritans or for reading a certain number of books.  They exchange coupons for a token to unlock a book of their choice from the bright blue Book Vending Machine.  

To entice even the youngest scholars, Judith’s Reading Room selected “I Can Read!” books as well as Caldecott Medal winners such as Drummer Hoff, and all-time favorites including The Story of Ferdinand and The Runaway Bunny.  “The key to excite a child to read is simple.  “You need to give them books that they want to read, that they choose to read,” stated Cathy Leiber, President and Co-Founder, Judith’s Reading Room.

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries in 22 countries with nearly 131,000 books donated worth over $1.4 million. Its annual Freedom Through Literacy Award offers cash prizes to champions of literacy around the world.  Visit www.judithsreadingroom.org to learn more about previous winners and how to apply for the 2022 Award beginning in early January 2022.

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Jabulani Community Center-Judith’s Reading Room Library #103

Adult Community Literacy Program awarded a custom Judith’s Reading Room Library

November 21, 2021 — Judith’s Reading Room dedicated its 103rd library today at Jabulani Community Center in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  This custom library contains books designed for teenagers and adults who, for whatever reason, find themselves grown but not fully literate.

The difficulty was to find appropriate adult-level reading materials with locally relevant stories.  Books were out of print but soft copies were provided on the website of a South Africa publisher.  The library contains very simple entry-level reading books to more complex and detailed stories. Primary and secondary teachers facilitate the program in the evening, earning them additional income.

“Giving teenagers and adults in any country, in any community, the opportunity to come to a community center and learn to read without judgement helps empower parents and raise literate children,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

This is the second library Judith’s Reading Room has dedicated in Zimbabwe with its nonprofit literacy partner, Children in the Wilderness.  “Watching someone work their way through a sentence that they weren’t able to do before is truly heart-warming,” states Sarah Adams,  CHE.

 

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