Judith’s Reading Room Celebrates Harkins House

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Celebrates Harkins House
Delivers Books Hand-Picked by At-Risk Youth
 

March 18, 2020 — . To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, Judith’s Reading Room, a global literacy non-profit organization founded in 2010 kept good on its promise to bolster libraries it has donated over its 10 year history. 

 To celebrate the milestone, the board of directors allocated $5,000 to be invested in 10 of its 99 literacy initiatives.   Portland, Oregon’s Harkins House is named one of the ten “stand out” libraries.  Led by board member David Leiber, 39 books worth $637 – all picked by the kids themselves — were delivered to Harkins House on March 13.
 
Since 2012, Judith’s Reading Room has collaborated with educators  and counselors at Harkins House, a nationally recognized shelter for delinquent youth near Portland, Oregon, and has delivered nearly 600 books for leisure reading and book clubs.

The idea is to instill in this unique population a love of reading.  Why? Literacy is a significant protective factor for at-risk youth and is strongly correlated with reducing recidivism, according to Mindy Chipps, Juvenile Counselor.   Harkins House serves over 100 youth per year.  Last year the number totaled 122 with 80% returning to their community.  She added, “Literacy is supported by everyone at Harkins House because books help kids returning to school by dropping barriers, heightening interest, and fostering the love of favorite topics.”

Chipps added that youth residing at Harkins House have the opportunity to actually read a book, unencumbered by stresses and strains from their often untenable home environments.  Most stay 60 days and in that time, many come to see reading a book as a way to escape painful environments.  

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  In the ten years since its founding, Judith’s Reading Room has established 99 libraries in 21 countries filled with 128,000 books valued at nearly $1.4 million.  The Freedom Through Literacy Award, initiated in 2015, has disbursed $33,500 in prize money, honoring 31 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe and Greece.

Applications for the 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Award may be found at Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through LiteracyThe deadline for receipt of completed applications is July 1st.  Winners will be announced by the end of July.

99TH LIBRARY – Judith’s Reading Room Opens 2nd Library in Mississippi

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CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Opens 2nd Library in Mississippi 
Organization Champions Literacy in Communities That Lack Books
 
February 24, 2020 — In celebration of Black History Month and the organization’s 10th Anniversary, Judith’s Reading Room dedicated its 99th library today — its 2nd in Mississippi — in collaboration with Rev. Dr. Leoda Topps, Ph.D, Education and Pastor at the Avery Chapel Church in Southaven, MS.
 
Judith’s Reading Room, a literacy nonprofit organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian who dedicated her life to freedom of speech and access to books for all, has established libraries in 21 countries filled with over 128,000 books.
 
To celebrate the organization’s 10th Anniversary, the Board of Directors allocated $5,000 to be divided amongst 10 of its “stand out” libraries.  Rev. Dr. Topps is one of the 10 to receive the organization’s special commemorative award.    Specifically, Judith’s Reading Room purchased 73 books for its 99th library.
 
In 2014, Judith’s Reading Room teamed with Rev. Dr. Topps to deliver more than 700 hand-picked children’s books to St. Peter’s AME Church in Tunica, MS, where Dr. Topps vowed to assist children after school with their homework and to help improve their reading skills.  That donation became our 86th Judith’s Reading Room Library.  
 
Rev. Dr. Topps said, “I’ve reached out to a preacher at one of my sister churches to help pull in community children to visit the new library at Avery Chapel Church.” She added, “As a newcomer to Southaven, I have found that many of the children come from single-parent homes with multiple children and the mothers’ work schedules don’t allow them to spend much time reading to their children.  This is where the church can step in to help.”  
 
Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  In the ten years since its founding, Judith’s Reading Room has established 99 libraries in 21 countries filled with 128,000 books valued at nearly $1.4 million.  The Freedom Through Literacy Award, initiated in 2015, has disbursed $33,500 in prize money, honoring 31 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe and Greece.

Applications for the 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Award may be found at Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through LiteracyThe deadline for receipt of completed applications is July 1st.  Winners will be announced by the end of July.

98TH LIBRARY – Judith’s Reading Room Opens Library in Greece

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Opens Library in Greece

A village declares its first community library

January 20, 2020  — 

Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith Krug, a librarian, announced today the dedication of its 98th library in its 21st country in collaboration with a visionary and unstoppable elementary school teacher from a village on an island in north Greece.

The village of Potamia, on Thassos Island, did not have a community library, making it difficult for children to celebrate the joy of reading and to develop literacy skills.  That was until Vicky Xanathopoulou reached out across oceans to apply online for the 2019 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award.  Xanathopoulou won the coveted 2019 “Judith’s Award,” for which only teachers, librarians or authors are eligible.  To augment her $500 cash prize, for which she flew to New York City to accept, the organization decided to help her establish a community library in her seaside village. 

The 98th Judith’s Reading Room library is housed inside the historic Cultural Union of Polignotos Vagis stone building, originally used as a fishing sanctuary for monks.  A museum, it hosts cultural events and will now house the community library.  Judith’s Reading Room provided 75 children’s books in English. Villagers are augmenting the library by donating books from their home collections.  All books will be available for loan and families will enjoy organized reading activities and book presentations.  In all, 150 children will be served by the library.

“I’m so happy and grateful for the opportunity given by Judith’s Reading Room to the children of my village to have more reading and cultural experiences,” said Xanathopoulou.  

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  In the ten years since its founding, Judith’s Reading Room has established 98 libraries in 21 countries filled with 128,000 books valued at nearly $1.4 million.  The Freedom Through Literacy Award, initiated in 2015, has disbursed $33,500 in prize money, honoring 31 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Mexico, Australia, Zimbabwe and Greece.

Visit Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award for current award information!

BOARD OPTIONS – 2019 Freedom Through Literacy

2019 Board Option Award – $300

Karen Brown
“Cat Tales – Kids Reading to Cats”— St. Paul, Minnesota

 

Two Sundays a month, Karen Brown opens up her no-kill cat shelter, Caring for Cats, to young children volunteers to practice reading aloud to a very willing audience — dozens of cats! Testimonies from families reveal that children have improved their confidence in reading thanks to the calming and low-pressure atmosphere. For creating a unique and rewarding experience for cats and children alike, we award Karen Brown a 2019 Board Option Award.

 

 

 

CFC Quote from Karen on how she feels about winning a 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Prize Award:

Thank you to Judith’s Reading Room for recognizing and encouraging the Caring for Cat’s reading program: Cat Tales – Kids Reading to Cats. A cat shelter may seem an unlikely advocate for literacy, but we knew our kitties would help kids fall in love with reading. Not only do the kids get to read stories to a supportive and nonjudgmental audience, they get to see how their words and actions help shy or traumatized kitties connect with people. We see cats showing appreciation to their reader friends with a paw on the shoulder or a nose-to-nose touch. By sharing a story, cats learn that people are okay, and kids learn that reading can be a force for good in all kinds of places and situations. This award reaffirms our commitment to being partners with our community and with organizations like Judith’s Reading Room and our fellow awardees to support literacy.  I am personally honored to have Cat Tales receive a 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Prize Award.

2019 Board Option – $300

Kathleen Kapila
“LGBT Children’s Literacy: Drag Queen Story Hour”— Allentown, Pennsylvania

As librarian of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Kathleen Kapila is showing off her creativity with the creation of Drag Queen Story Hour, a new program in which drag performers read books to young children to encourage both a love of reading and freedom of gender expression. We proudly award Kathleen Kapila a Board Option Award for her efforts.

 

 

 

2019 Board Option –  $200

Sue Goatley
“Outdoor Education Book” — Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

 

 

Sue Goatley has spent the past few years ensuring that St. Mary’s School in the
Hwange Region provides its 845 students with books. For her work to open up their
world through literature, we proudly award Sue a Board Option Award.

 

 

2019 Board Option -$200

Chanith Wijeratne
“Promoting Conservation Through Inspired Reading”— Essendon,  Victoria, Australia

ChanithWijeratneChanith has been writing about the wildlife of Sri
Lanka, Australia and Africa since the age of six.
With 10 titles under his belt, he has inspired
many children around him to pursue writing and
conservation. For this, we happily award Chanith
a Board Option Award.

 

JUDITH’S AWARD – 2019 Freedom Through Literacy

Judith’s Award $500

Vicky Xanthopoulou- “Let’s Play Book”
Potamia, North Greece

 

Children in the village of Potamia on Thassos Island in North Greece have little access to books; without a library, it had been difficult for the community to foster solid reading skills. That’s why Vicky, an elementary school teacher, jumped into action. She created “Let’s Play Book,” which encourages children to interpret the world around them through reading and playing with books that she and other local authors have created.

In her honor, we announce the establishment of its 98th library in Vicky’s village of Potamia, starting with a donation of 75 children’s books.

We also happily recognize Vicky and her “Let’s Play Book” program as winner of the 2019 Judith’s Award.

 

 

Let’s play book (LPB) is a reading promotion project based on sociocultural, constructivist, ecological systems and experiental theories of learning. LPB focuses on the social and cultural dimensions of learning and promotes equal opportunities for all students. Children are encouraged to understand and interpret the world around them through reading and playing with books. By setting the book at the center of the learning process and through a diverse range of reading animations I am trying to create social landscapes inside the classroom which stimulate children and incite them to interact with each other.

I am hugely honored to receive ‘Judith’s Award’ by Judith’s Reading Room whose visionary work and ideals appeal to the highest of my aspirations.

GRAND PRIZE – 2019 Freedom Through Literacy

Grand Prize Award – $3,000

Alvin Irby, “Barbershop Books”
New York, New York

Alvin Irby, a passionate social entrepreneur and former teacher, had a simple idea: why not use the time you get your hair cut to build literacy skills? And with a laser-beam focus,
Barbershop Books was born. Irby’s community-based
program creates inviting, child-friendly reading spaces in
urban barbershops for young black boys.

Originally developed in Harlem, Barbershop Books has
spread to 140 barbershops (and counting!) across more than
30 cities and 20 states, reaching 5,600 boys per month.

We warmly honor Alvin Irby as the Grand Prize winner of the
2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award for his creative
approach to bring culturally-relevant, age-appropriate, and
gender-responsive books to foster literacy skills and a love
for reading amongst young black boys.



2019 FREEDOM THROUGH LITERACY AWARD LUNCHEON

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.

Building first-time libraries, visit by visit

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.


Do you know a Champion of Literacy in your community? Do them a favor and share the 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award application with them!

2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award Press Release

NEWS RELEASE  
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber484-661-6151
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org


Judith’s Reading Room Seeks Applicants for its 
2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award

January 21, 2019 — Lehigh Valley, Pa.  Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy organization founded in 2010, announced today that applications for its 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award can be found online at www.JudithsReadingRoom.org/APPLY.   The prestigious award, that honors multiple winners, carries a total cash prize of $4,500.  Deadline for submission of applications is July 1, 2019.  

The annual Freedom Through Literacy Award — the signature element of Judith’s Reading Room — is open to individual champions of literacy including teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, educators and literacy nonprofits  — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  

In addition to the $3,000 Grand Prize, the Judith’s Award worth $500, is limited to  teachers, librarians and/or authors, who are also eligible to win the Grand Prize.  The Board Option Award, totaling $1,000, was created to acknowledge the passion of our board members who are constantly on the lookout for individuals doing something exciting in the world of literacy.

Since its inception in 2010,  Judith’s Reading Room has dedicated 96 libraries in 19 countries and counting, with 128,000 books donated valued at nearly $1.4 million dollars.  Since 2015, The Freedom Through Literacy Award has disbursed $29,000 and has honored 25 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia and Mexico.

GRAND PRIZE – 2018 Freedom Through Literacy

Grand Prize $3,000

Matthew Weimann and Julia Dweck
“Release Your Fireflies” — Macungie, Pa

Matthew Weinmann, Ibiyinka Alao and Julia Dweck

Matthew Weinmann and Julia Dweck (shown here with Ibiyinka Alao)

“Release Your Fireflies” is best described as a storytelling-movement. Matthew Weimann and Julia Dweck, two ‘stellar’ teachers according to their principal, inspired their students in grades 3-5 to interpret Ibi’s true story. The children wrote an award winning picture book entitled, “Ibi’s Fireflies,” published by Scholastic. The goal of “Release Your Fireflies” is to equip children to navigate the world through storytelling, paving the way for an appreciation of human literature. Matt and Julia’s project promotes storytelling inside and outside the classroom — nurturing literacy skills, creative thinking, communication, empathy, increased confidence and self-esteem. The duo, described as “true pioneers in the pursuit of a global classroom of storytellers,” created a website where teachers can access a library of storytelling curriculum that encourages children to share their stories and reflect on them through prompts and questions. “Ibi’s Fireflies,” is under consideration by producer Tim Burton, as a full-length animated feature.

UN Art Ambassador Ibiyinka Alao’s true life story provided the inspiration for the project.

Julia Dweck — “Nelson Mandela once said, ‘That we are only people, because of the people.’  This is the spirit of ubuntu embodied in the Freedom Through Literacy Award.  Our mission to share stories is a natural extension of this philosophy.  After all, a story is only a story when there is someone there to listen.”

Matthew Weimann —“We are super excited to share this project with the world and help students learn and practice great story-telling. This prize will help us achieve our dreams of connecting with teachers and students from all walks of like and roads in distant lands.”