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.
Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug continued its 10 year Anniversary celebration by naming its 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Award winners. Judith F. Krug, cousin to the organization’s founders, served as the Director of Intellectual Freedom for The American Library Association for 40 years.
2020 FREEDOM THROUGH LITERACY AWARDS ANNOUNCED
A teacher-leader, an author, a community leader, and the founder of an international non-profit named top winners
Grand Prize Winner of $2,500
Christopher McGilvery, founder of The Leaders Readers Network, Canyon, Texas is named the 2020 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Grand Prize Award winner. Chris is recognized for his unflinching approach to fostering a love of reading by engaging teachers to facilitate “buddy” teams where older students read aloud to younger students, thereby fostering leadership skills, enabling child-centered coaching and exhibiting a love of reading. Teachers and students work together on service projects that empower students to develop leadership skills while sharing a love for reading with their peers at Title 1 schools. Teachers across Texas recognize Chris and The Leaders Readers Network for the transformation that is happening at schools when teachers and students work together to support young readers. This innovative approach sheds light on educational inequality and fosters a lifelong commitment to literacy for all. In recognition of his passionate and successful approach to literacy, he is awarded $2,500.
Judith’s Award: $1,500 awarded to the champion of literacy teacher, librarian or author
Ty Allan Jackson, author, publisher, literacy advocate, Bronx native is named winner of the 2020 Judith’s Award. The Judith’s Award was established in 2018 to exclusively honor a teacher, author or librarian. Ty Jackson, an award-winning children’s book author and captivating motivational speaker was recognized by the judges as an “extraordinary author in an extraordinary year.” In honoring Ty with the 2020 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Judith’s Award, the organization shines a bright light on his books that feature Black and diverse children in superhero and contemporary roles. A three-time TedX presenter, Ty inspires children and educates adults about the impacts of illiteracy. For his outstanding contribution to literature, Ty is awarded $1,500.
The Board of Directors names two Board Option prizes:
Charmaine Tsosie, President, Chinle Planting Hope, Navajo Nation, Chinle, Arizona is named a 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option prize winner for her work to actively establish a mobile library to serve the Navajo Nation. A community leader and organizer, Charmaine tends to the various struggles that afflict her people. Almost half of the Navajo Nation lack access to the internet and over 30% of Navajo people do not have electricity or running water in their homes. Chinle — with about 180,000 Navajo members living on the reservation, the largest reservation in the United States. To help Charmaine accelerate her work on a mobile library, Judith’s Reading Room will collaborate with the Navajo people to purchase and ship $500 worth of adult and children’s books that they choose for their mobile library.
Basarat Kazim, Founder, Alif Laila Book Bus Society, Lahore, Pakistan is named a 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option prize winner for her mobile Camel Library for Kech Balochistan. Camel drivers, outfitted with custom-made book pouches will travel to the least populated region in southwestern Pakistan. The Camel Library will offer hundreds of children’s picture books and stories specifically chosen to develop creativity skills, critical thinking and sustainable behaviors. An important beneficiary for the unique Camel Library book mobiles will be girls: currently only 38% of schools in the district allow girls. Basarat, Judith’s Reading Room’s 2015 Grand Prize winner of the Freedom Through Literacy Award, is awarded $500. At a future date, Judith’s Reading Room will dedicate the Camel Library for Kech Balochistan as the organization’s 101st international library.
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 99 libraries in 21 countries with 128,000 books donated, valued at nearly $1.4 million dollars. The 100th Judith’s Reading Room library in Zimbabwe, previously scheduled to open in August 2020, has been delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Freedom Through Literacy Award was initiated in 2015 as the organization’s signature event. Including the 2020 winners, the organization will have disbursed $38,500 in prize money, honoring 35 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe and Greece.