The 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award was held at Ammos Estiatorio, New York City on Saturday, September 28th. Each award ceremony has been special it is own, 2019s was an intimate gathering but very powerful with a special presentation by Robert Lucas spoke on what it was like opening 2 Judith’s Reading Room libraries in Cambodia, what the books meant to the children, and how books changed their lives. Alvin Irby, the Grand Prize winner brough three of his colleagues to share in the glory and our Judith’s Award winner, Vicky Xanthopoulou, traveled from Greece along with her husband to accept of her award. In addition to honoring the 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award Winners, Judith’s Reading Room announced the establishment of the 98th Judith’s Reading Room Library in the Vicky Xanthopoulou’s village of Potamia on the Island of Thassos in North Greece. The initial donation will include 75 custom selected children’s titles. In 2020, the 99th library will be dedicated in Zimbabwe.
Basarat and Alif Laila Society, Freedom Through Literacy 2015 grand prize winner, continues her project in Pakistan. She just sent us some fantastic new photos!
Basarat believes that by providing access to quality literature, in
a country that spends less than 2% on education, will inspire life-long
learners and, most importantly, develop positive attitudes so critical
for a tolerant society. Convinced that books are change agents and that
libraries for children are places of independent research, critical
thinking and imagination power houses, Basarat sets a determined and
noteworthy commitment to literacy in Pakistan.
On November 4th of 2011, an amazing journey started. Through my affiliation with the Charitable Organization Judith’s Reading Room I was able to establish a mobile book cart at Fox Chase Cancer Center. A little red cart and 13 boxes of books has grown to books being available on the cart which is taken from room to room by a volunteer, as well book cases filled everywhere you go throughout Fox Chase Cancer Center.
This all started while my Father was a patient. I saw a need and was fortunate enough to be able, through my affiliation with Judith’s Reading Room, to fill it. In 2015, Judith’s Reading Room took the charity in another direction, but through the connections Cathy Leiber helped established I was able to carry on donating books which I collect from various locations. To date over 8100 books have been donated for the patients, family & friends who are spending time at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
The remuneration is seeing people lost in a book when I make a drop, as well as people stopping me as I am unloading and letting me know how much having access to a good book has meant to them while they are either in treatment or waiting by a loved one’s side.
I do not do this alone, I have a few friends in particular who are there every year to help at the AAUW Book sale which Cathy introduced me too, My Good friend Ann Shanley and her Husband Ed Brett have helped me load literally thousands of books to be trucked to Fox Chase Cancer Center, as well as my good friend Maureen Burris who has helped me sort and collect thousands of books as well.
East Java is a place where a great story of a great story of IMPACT is told, starting with a seed and watching it grow.
Arif Darmawan is an 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award HONORABLE MENTIONS winner. At the time of the award, Arif was credited with helping promote literacy and education by developing 55 libraries with more than 42,000 books and programs that plant the seeds of leadership, environmental consciousness and community connection in East Java, Indonesia through the organization The World is Just a Book Away. These libraries impacted 28,000 Indonesian school children.
NOW, WIJABA is working in close partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), WIJABA is in the process of introducing the Jane Goodall Institute’s “Roots & Shoots” environmental awareness program across WIJABA network libraries in Sidoarjo (East Java) and Padang (West Sumatra), Indonesia.
Judith’s Reading Room opened its 97th Library in Honduras this February with help from Ana Luhrs, former Board member and Freedom through Literacy Award winner, and the students of Lafayette College’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project. Students travelled to the remote village of Zambrano, Honduras to help rural farmers grow their coffee business.
The Lafayette students built a curated library for exceptional women selected by village elders to attend The Leadership Center (TLC) in Zambrano. Ana used the funds she was awarded as a winner of the organization’s 2018 Freedom Through Literacy Award to purchase books, among them autobiographies of women, and create a culture of reading for pleasure.
“Access to information beyond the classroom allows students to take ownership of their educational journey. Library collections, especially well-curated collections, provide a variety of perspectives beyond that of a classroom textbook and an instructor.”
Ana Luhrs, Lafayette College librarian
Women in Zambrano want to become global leaders in the coffee industry, so acquiring the English language skills they need to expand their businesses is a must. Now they have a well-stocked library with books on business that they can learn from. “Judith’s Reading Room stands with the dozens of young women hand-picked to learn management and leadership skills at TLC so that they can become highly productive leaders in their country,” said Cathy Leiber, Co-Founder, Judith’s Reading Room. “Thanks to Ana Luhrs, having a library at TLC which is packed with books to encourage a love of reading, students will be able to explore the world when there is little opportunity to leave their country.”
This marks the 97th library opened by Judith’s Reading Room globally. Judith’s Reading Room was established in 2010 to honor the memory and legacy of Judith F. Krug, a librarian. Since 2010, Judith’s Reading Room has dedicated 97 libraries in 20 countries. The organization sponsors the Freedom Through Literacy Award which has disbursed $29,000 in awards to 25 individual champions of literacy. Additional information and the application for the 2019 Award can be found at www.JudithsReadingRoom.org/freedom-through-literacy-award/
The 5th annual Judith’s Reading Room “Freedom Through Literacy” Award will honor individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.
The core of Judith’s Reading Room is the belief that books change lives. At Casa Guadalupe in Allentown, Pennsylvania, children under five are bringing home their first books thanks to a creative partnership.
The first thing you see when you visit the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program at Casa Guadalupe in Allentown is a bright red cart of books. Small books, big books, books with wheels, and books with fuzzy fur poking out the covers. It’s a tantalizing display of literary delight, and it is hard to resist when you are five and under.
“Kids are crying and begging for books every time that they come to their appointment,” says former Freedom Through Literacy honoree and WIC Program Coordinator Dawn Bush. “They even still ask for books over stickers!” Moms love the program, too. At each visit, they can bring home a book to add to their child’s library–a luxury many cannot afford on their own.
Started in April 2013, the Birth-2-Five Initiative was Judith’s Reading Room’s answer to the 30-million word gap. Research shows that by age three, a child in poverty hears 30 million fewer words than a child from a middle-income home. This impacts a child’s ability to compete with his peers once he reaches elementary school and can have damaging effects on confidence, self-worth, and academic growth.
After a recent audit by Maternal & Family Health Services, the overseeing agency of the WIC program, it was recommended that books be added to the nutritionist’s office so children had something to focus on, giving their families quality uninterrupted time to listen to the important information the nutritionist was sharing.
Since the inception of the Birth-2-Five Initiative, Judith’s Reading Room has donated 15,649 children’s books to the WIC Program at Casa Guadalupe, building countless home libraries and changing lives.
Basarat believes that by providing access to quality literature, in a country that spends less than 2% on education, will inspire life-long learners and, most importantly, develop positive attitudes so critical for a tolerant society. Convinced that books are change agents and that libraries for children are places of independent research, critical thinking and imagination power houses, Basarat sets a determined and noteworthy commitment to literacy in Pakistan.
Christopher Dew and Lisa Boscola, PA State Senator
Judith’s Reading Room VOLUNTEER, Christopher Dew, received his Eagle Scout award today. His project, establishing a library at Lehigh Valley H. O. P. E., was inspired by his volunteer work at Judith’s Reading Room. Lisa Boscola, PA STATE SENATOR, honored his achievement.
Christopher Dew, one of just 4% of all scouts who achieve the hard-earned Eagle Scout designation.