HONORABLE MENTIONS – 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award

Ms. Heidi AbiNader, “Sharpsville Middle School Reads”
Sharpsville, PA

Heidi Abi Nader could be described as one of those teachers who goes above and beyond for her students, and nowhere is this more apparent than her project Sharpsville Middle School Reads.  When the idea of bringing author Elio Schrefer floated around the halls of Sharpsville Middle School, Heidi caught it and ran.  Her program allowed for every student to own a copy of Schrefer’s book Endangered, while Heidi organized weekly contests, daily quizzes, and discussions to engage the entire school with the book for six weeks until the author himself arrived to give presentations. Her commitment to literacy is sure to become a legacy at Sharpsville.

Ms. Julia Dweck, “Musical Mythology”
Macungie, PA

It might seems strange to think that building a harp and developing literacy would be connected but Julia Dweck’s Musical Mythology project does just that.  With the help of the Fireside harp kit, Dweck’s students read and discuss Greek mythology and The Lightning Thief, choose a god upon they base an ode, and culminate their knowledge and creativity in a performance using the harp they built together as a class.  Believing that books activate senses beyond the visual, Julia invites students to experience their tactile and audio aspects to inspire a love of reading.

Ms. Helen Ferguson, “We Care, We Share, Books for Foose”
Hummelstown, PA

Helen Ferguson’s We Care, We Share, Books for Foose donates 4,000 books each year to classrooms at Foose Elementary School in Harrisburg. Helen and other volunteers visit 26 different classrooms 5 times a year, bringing a Santa-like bag of books for the students, and explain to them how a book is made and, of course read out load with enthusiasm and energy. Students then get to select their very own book from the bag to bring home.  For a school whose students rarely have he means to go to the public library and whose own library’s funds were significantly cut, the We Care, We Share program really does feel like Christmas.

Ms. Sydelle Pearl,  “Storypearls”
Pittsburgh, PA

Writer Sydelle Pearl remarked that the literacy programs she had looked into didn’t involve the author as much as she liked, so she set out to create her own to inspire children to love reading. Since 2012, Sydelle and her Storypearls program have visited several schools, homeless shelters and transitional housing agencies to enlighten children about the process of writing a story and how stories connect to one another, therefore engaging them in literature in new and exciting ways. One second grader at Saint Rosalia Academy, after Sydelle’s workshop, exclaimed, “Today is the best day of my life!”

Kelly Stoops and her program “Book Blast”

On Wednesday May 4th we gathered together to celebrate Judith’s Reading Room 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Awards Winners. We would like to the share this wonderfully produced video shown at the 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award dinner in honor of Kelly Stoop’s GRAND PRIZE Award initiative “Book Blast”.

More information on Kelly Stoops, “Book Blast” and the winners will be coming soon!

Judith’s Reading Room Opens Library in Rwanda

Hand-Picked Books Serve Rwanda Subsistence Farming Families

Children at Judith’s Reading Room Muhanga choose from many books—all relevant to Rwanda

Children at Judith’s Reading Room Muhanga choose from many books—all relevant to Rwanda

Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization established in 2010, announced the opening of its 94th library around the world in its 17th country — Rwanda. The library was made possible by a collaboration with the organization’s 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award Runner-Up, Janet Brown, a resident of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and founder of TEACH Rwanda.

Volunteers from TEACH Rwanda hand-picked 137 books valued at $1,181 from the Judith’s Reading Room collection to serve the 136 children at Bright School in Muhanga, where public and school libraries are rare. “Bright School is a hub for teachers from around the world to see modern teaching practices in a rapidly developing country where many families are subsistence farmers who have no electricity or water — and certainly nothing to read,” said Brown.

Children are captivated by books about familiar items—such as A Circle Unbroken, about traditional basket weaving.

Children are captivated by books about familiar items—such as A Circle Unbroken, about traditional basket weaving.

Judith’s Reading Room is focused on honoring champions of literacy — those on the frontline battling illiteracy — through its annual $10,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award. Whenever possible, award winners and Judith’s Reading Room will collaborate on establishing libraries together. “By supporting the good work of others, we aspire to share and celebrate people who are doing genuinely astonishing work, instilling in others a love of reading,” said Cathy Leiber,
president and co-founder of Judith’s Reading Room.

To date, the organization has dedicated 94 libraries in 17 countries with 127,079 books donated worth $1,376,872.

Children often match book themes to what they build, write, and draw. This girl made a train with colorful blocks, almost like the one in Freight Train. Integrated learning is prized in TEACH Rwanda schools.

Children often match book themes to what they build, write, and draw. This girl made a train with colorful blocks, almost like the one in Freight Train. Integrated learning is prized in TEACH Rwanda schools.

At Judith’s Reading Room Muhanga, children spread their books on the table. “Teacher, look what I found!” “Look! Look!” They are SO excited!

At Judith’s Reading Room Muhanga, children spread their books on the table. “Teacher, look what I found!” “Look! Look!” They are SO excited!

Early literacy skills begin with books about children with which readers can identify.

Early literacy skills begin with books about children with which readers can identify.

$10,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award Deadline Nears

NEWS RELEASE
CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
484-661-6151

$10,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award Deadline Nears

Judith’s Reading Room Seeks Champions of Literacy

December 21, 2015 — Bethlehem, Pa.

The 2016 Freedom Through Literacy Award deadline — January 26 — is one
month away and the $10,000 cash prizes are up for grabs, according to Cathy
Leiber, President of the nonprofit organization, Judith’s Reading Room.

The organization, with headquarters in Bethlehem, Pa, through its Freedom
Through Literacy Award, honors individual champions of literacy from all
disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, educators,
booksellers, media, missionaries, citizens — in a word, anyone who has done
exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.

The Application is available on line at www.judithsreadingroom.org. The deadline for
submissions is January 26. The Application asks, for example, “Express your
individual philosophy about literacy,” and, “In as many ways as possible, please
describe the impact of your project.”

An international panel of 24 judges with diverse credentials will vote on the
Applications. Winners will be notified by April 13, 2016. Winners will be
announced at an Award Dinner co-hosted by the Colonial Association of Reading
Educators, on Wednesday, May 4th from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at Cedar Crest College in
Allentown, Pa.

 

The 65th, the final, Boxing Party

Judith’s Reading Room celebrated its 65th month of boxing books for active duty troops and veterans at its final Boxing Party on Monday, November 2, 2015.

 

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Thirty-four community volunteers ranging in age from 3 to 70 gathered at the organization’s southside Bethlehem headquarters. Packing 965 mostly new novels worth $10,608, the volunteers smashed previous shipment totals. The organization serves VA hospitals and shelters in Pennsylvania at the PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home and Butler Healthcare, the VA Hospital in E. Orange New Jersey, and Steadfast House in NC, a shelter for women veterans and their children.

Over the past five years, Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization, has shipped a total of 126,442 books worth $1,371,791. Nearly 50% of all shipments have been to military bases, hospitals, shelters and aircraft carriers here and around the world. The organization has established 93 libraries in 16 countries serving tens of thousands of children and adults who crave the opportunity to read for fun.

Judith’s Reading Room has shifted its focus to searching the world for individual champions of literacy from all disciplines — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading. The $10,000 Award carries a top prize of $5,000 and up to five $1,000 runner-up prizes.

 

Celebrating International Literacy Day

Judith’s Reading Room Celebrates
International Literacy Day

92nd Library to Open in the Kyrgyz Republic; 93rd in Lahore, Pakistan

Bethlehem, Pa. – September 8, 2015. Judith’s Reading Room will celebrate today’s International Literacy Day by packing children’s books at its 63rd Boxing Party, at 5 E. 3rd Street, Bethlehem from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Citizens and volunteers are expected to fill the room in the effort to share literacy around the world.

Boxers will pack children’s books for Nazareth, PA native, Andrew Berry, former Barnes & Noble associate now stationed with the Peace Corps in the Kyrgyz Republic. This will be Judith’s Reading Room’s 92nd library. Tonight’s effort to ship a box of 100 books to Risbek Aidarliev School will help Andrew get his English Club off the ground, where there are 902 students supported by 59 teachers, two of whom are English teachers. “The primary mission for my Peace Corps service is to improve the English levels, of both the students and teachers. I will use these books to organize a reading club for interested students. A book fair in the spring will actively engage students in learning through reading. Students will give presentations about books they receive from Judith’s Reading Room,” said Berry.

Books will be shipped to Judith’s Reading Room libraries in Romania where today English “competitions,” using books provided by the organization are being held in honor of International Literacy Day. The organization’s 93rd library will open in Lahore, Pakistan as a result of books packed tonight. They will be shipped to Alif Laila Book Bus Society, winner of the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award.

The 2016 $10,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award application is now available on
line at www.judithsreadingroom.org/2nd-annual-freedom-through-literacy-award/.

2nd Annual Freedom Through Literacy Award

Judith's Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award$10,000 To Be Awarded to Individual Champions of Literacy

 

Judith’s Reading Room announced today that applications for its 2nd Annual Freedom Through Literacy Awards are available. To apply, applicants should visit: WWW.JUDITHSREADINGROOM.ORG/FREEDOM-THROUGH-LITERACY-AWARD.  Deadline for submissions is January 26, 2016. Winners will be publicly announced at the Colonial Association of Reading Educators (C.A.R.E’s) Celebrate Literacy Award Dinner on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA.

Judith’s Reading Room will award $10,000 in prize money to individual champions of literacy from around the world — educators, librarians, authors, researchers and non-profit literacy organizations — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading. The Award carries a top prize of $5,000 and up to five $1,000 runner-up awards.

The Freedom Through Literacy Award recognizes literacy projects and/or programs that are innovative, are measurably impactful, can be replicated, go beyond the individual’s “call of duty,” and clearly express the individual’s philosophy about literacy. The inaugural Award attracted 34 Applications from around the world.

The diverse judging panel of 23 local and international individuals has been established. The panel includes teachers, administrators, executives from multiple disciplines, attorneys, and last year’s grand prize winner, Ms. Basarat Kazim, founder of “Alif Laila Book Bus Society’s Mobile Library,” Lahore, Pakistan.

Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization, was founded in 2010. Its mission is “Freedom Through Literacy.” The organization has dedicated 91 libraries around the world including 123,417 books worth $1,339,570.

Media and other inquiries contact: Cathy Leiber at 484-661-6151 or  awards@judithreadingroom.org.

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Cracking Open the Universe

The documentary, “Cracking Open the Universe,” you are about to view, is emblematic of the mission of Judith’s Reading Room, the Producer of this film. This film, as the embodiment of that mission, “Freedom Through Literacy,” demonstrates the sociological impact of literacy to promote peaceful human interaction. The vehicle employed to facilitate that peaceful human interaction is the Book Club, and the empowering fuel is Literacy.

Copyright 2015 by Judith’s Reading Room
Directed and Edited by Joel Vargas

To learn more about Judith’s Reading Room and its work to recognize and support those whose mission it is to promote and spread literacy, please visit www.judithsreadingroom.org. Thank you.

TEACH Rwanda sends thanks!

JRR-Rwanda-PhotoTEACH Rwanda’s Founder and President, Jan Brown, has been honored as an “individual champion of literacy” for her “exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.”

Judith’s Reading Room presented its Freedom Through Literacy awards on May 6 at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA. Jan was in Rwanda, so her husband, Bill Whipple, accepted the runner-up award on her behalf.

“Under Janet’s leadership, TEACH Rwanda has been educating Rwandan teachers and equipping school libraries with culturally relevant and engaging literature since 2012. Thanks to Janet’s dedication, hundreds of children in TEACH Rwanda schools have the change to become prolific readers, writers, and artists.”

TEACH Rwanda is grateful for this $1000 gift, 
which enables us to continue 
to promote a culture of reading in Rwanda

Vision Empower Rwandan teachers to implement international best practices in early childhood education.

Mission Develop Model Schools in Rwanda—centers of excellence—that meet the organization’s high standards. Partner with leaders of NGOs, educators, families, and communities to offer professional development to pre-service and in-service teachers in Model Schools. Operate as a transparent, efficient, cost-effective, sustainable organization that wisely allocates all donations.

JRR Teach Rwanda Logo