The Freedom Through Literacy Award
The Freedom Through Literacy Award was established by Judith’s Reading Room in 2015 to identify and 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.
It takes many voices to champion literacy and create a love of reading and learning. Judith’s Reading Room’s Award Winners who are individuals taking charge whether in the fight against illiteracy, whether it is an English teacher implementing innovative reading programs to encourage more students to pick up a book, or an author who has incorporated new techniques into his or her children’s books to make a child want to read just one more story before bed.
2019 FREEDOM THROUGH LITERACY AWARD WINNERS NAMED
Empowering Global Communities to Create Positive Reading Experiences
From Allentown, St. Paul and New York City … To Greece, Zimbabwe and Australia
Grand Prize Winner of $3,000
Judith’s Reading Room names “Barbershop Books,” as Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award. Led by educator and author Alvin Irby, based in New York City, Barbershop Books is a laser-focused community-based program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops involving Black men, Black boys and Black barbers. Irby believes that “early positive reading experiences help children identify as readers and when children identify as readers they are more likely to read for fun.” The Barbershop Books program currently has child-friendly reading spaces in 140 barbershops across more than 30 cities and 20 states, reaching over 5,600 boys per month. Books are selected by young Black boys and Irby’s program provides early literacy training to barbers. For his work, Irby is awarded the 2019 Grand Prize Award valued at $3,000. Learn more ….
Judith’s Award: $500 awarded to the champion of literacy teacher, librarian or author
The Judith’s Award — exclusive to teachers, librarians or authors — names Vicky Xanthopoulou, originator of “Let’s Play Book,” its 2019 Judith’s Award recipient. The elementary school teacher from Potamia Village, Thassos Island, North Greece created the innovative project titled, “Let’s Play Book,” which combines in her words, “the innate impulsion of children to play with the need to penetrate the text and all book’s aspects.”
“Let’s Play Book” is the winner of numerous Greek literacy distinctions and is based on reading animations designed to cultivate shared values for her multi-cultural students. Her work is essential: there is no lending library in her village, so her original publications have proven to be essential in providing basic literacy tools. For her innovative, creative and passionate work in a village with no library, Judith’s Reading Room awards Xanthopoulou the 2019 Judith’s Award valued at $500. Learn More …
The Board Option Award with a total prize of $1000 is shared amongst four visionary individuals.
The winners of the 2019 Board Option Award are:
Karen Brown, Caring For Cats Shelter Volunteer, “Cat Tales — Kids Reading to Cats,” based in North St. Paul, Minnesota. Brown is awarded a 2019 Board Option prize valued at $300.
Kathleen Kapila, Librarian, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, “LGBT Children’s Literacy: Drag Queen Story Hour” based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Kapila is awarded a 2019 Board Option prize valued at $300.
Sue Goatley, nonprofit leader, Children in the Wilderness, for her support of “St. Mary’s Primary School Library Enrichment Project,” based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Goatley is awarded a 2019 Board Option prize valued at $200.
Kulasekara Mudiyanselage Chanith Wijeratne, Author and Illustrator, for his project “Promoting Conservation Through Inspired Reading,” Essendon, Victoria, Australia. Wijeratne is awarded a 2019 Board Option prize valued at $200.
2019 FREEDOM THROUGH LITERACY AWARD LUNCHEON
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.