GRAND PRIZE – 2021 Freedom Through Literacy

Grand Prize Award – $2,500

Angela Chalkiopoulou, “Alice in Writer’s Land”

Writing, dancing, drawing, prancing… these are just a few activities you might see in educator Angela Chalkiopoulou’s classroom. Using the power of creativity and inquiry, Ms. Chalkiopoulou’s Alice in Writer’s Land project helps foster both a sense of wonder and resilience in the children of Limassol,Cyprus. Children explore the protagonist’s journey,guided by multimedia and questions that help them examine the story’s theme while developing their social and emotional skills.

Chalkiopoulou’s educational approach has since garnered nominations for national awards and serves as a foundation for a permanent collaboration with libraries in Ptolemaida and at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia.

It is our greatest honor to add to that list and award Angela Chalkiopoulou as the Grand Prize winner of the 2021 Freedom Through Literacy Award for jumping down the rabbit hole of creativity and learning with her inventive, inspirational program.


“This award is a testimony to the significant role that literacy plays in obtaining freedom, self esteem,human values and future hope. Literature is the absolute source of inspiration, the joy of human intellect, when combined with ingenious art and multimedia tool kits, it can transform a classroom into a small collaborating and learning society, offering the prospect of a hopeful future for all of us.”
                                                                                                   -Angela Chalkiopoulou



Board Option Award-Sue Goatley-2021 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $400

Sue Goatley – “Jabulani Community Literacy Programme”

Often times, a student without the proper support early in their schooling, may struggle to obtain the foundational literacy skills to advance their formal education. Sue Goatley, with her organization Children in the Wilderness, established an after school community literacy program for teenagers to change that outcome in the rural Zambezi region. We honor Sue with a Board Option Award to support her efforts in bringing essential reading skills to Zimbabwean youth.

“We look forward to adding vital literary resources to the library. The addition of books both from an adult literacy and locally relevant perspective will create long lasting impacts for this group that will be felt for years to come.” – Sue Goatley

Board Option Award-Derek Witmer-2021 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $300

Derek Witmer – “Diversity and Inclusion Library”

Second grade teacher Derek Witmer’s care and attention for honoring his students and their experiences has led to the creation of a curated library of books addressing important topics such as general diversity, acceptance, gender identity,and familial make ups. In recognition of his compassion, we award Derek with a Board Option Award

“Literature has the power to change the world, and I’m glad to be able to have an impact on the upcoming generations.” – Derek Witmer




Board Option Award-Lisa Gerard-2021 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $300

Lisa Gerard – “Little Read Wagon”

Tackling communities with “book deserts” in the town of Norman,Oklahoma, Lisa Gerard began a mini library at a local laundromat in 2020. From there, the reading ball started rolling!Since that laundromat library, Lisa has added a lending library and a volunteer program in order to collect and distribute culturally relevant books at community events. In just one year,Lisa has distributed more than 10,000 books to children and adults. We proudly award Lisa a Board Option Award to celebrate her work towards building a reading community.

This outreach program engages and inspires a great love for reading with a passionate ambition.” – Lisa Gerard


Honorable Mentions-2021 Freedom Through Literacy

Honorable Mentions

Lisette Caesar – “Mirroring Our Kids
EAST HARLEM, NEW YORKLisette’s steadfast efforts to create libraries that reflect her students
and their lives earns
her an Honorable Mention.

CBS NY clip on Lisette Caesar’s “brainchild” Book Vending Machine at Mosaic Prep Academy in NY

Simon Ke – “Mobile Library Project”

We honor Simon Ke and the Mobile Library Project at Anjali House for reaching
over 850 children in
Siem Reap with an Honorable Mention.

Three more Camel Libraries in Pakistan!

Three more camel libraries and more to come… read onward…

Well, Judith’s Reading Room got it right when in voting Basarat as our 1st Freedom Through Literacy Award! She continues to thrill and we hope this message touches your heart as it did ours.  Enjoy the new photos as well!

Dear Cathy,

Thank you to Judith’s Reading Room for starting something so beautiful for Pakistan’s children.

Roshan, and the 1st camel library in Pakistan has warmed the hearts and imagination of people all over the world and been covered by international media with such interest that there has been an opening of so many doors for children in remote areas of Pakistan.

Three more camel libraries are running in Gwadar, Balochistan and Tharparkar, Sindh. We have funds to set up two more, and will start work on them after the Eid holidays.

Roshan now has three more friends,
Aman ( Peace), Raunaq ( Jovial) Chiragh ( Light); Khushi ( Happiness) and Umeed ( Hope) are on their way.

And all this in a short time period; Roshan was launched in October 2020.

My warmest and very best to all at Judith’s Reading Room.


Additional information …..

GRAND PRIZE – 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award

BOARD OPTION PRIZES – 2020 Freedom Through Literacy

Please submit your application for 2021’s Freedom Through Literacy Award – Deadline July 1st!


Virtual Award Celebration – Sept. 26, 2020

GRAND PRIZE – 2020 Freedom Through Literacy

Grand Prize Award – $2,500

Christopher McGilvery, “Teachers and Student Ambassadors Project”
Canyon, Texas

Supporting one another with the power of literacy. For Chris McGilvery, this is the story he wants to tell in his community. Through his work with The Leaders Readers Network, Chris engages teachers across the United States and Dominica to grow leadership and literacy skills for students. The project partners with teachers to facilitate “buddy” teams in which older students read aloud to younger students while also learning about the
effects of illiteracy.

To date, Chris and his team have trained 205 students, partnered with 215 teachers, and impacted over 55,000 students’ lives.

It is with great enthusiasm that we honor Chris McGilvery as the Grand Prize winner of the 2020 Freedom Through Literacy Award for his innovative, child-centered approach to foster a love of reading – and leadership! – for children across the United States.

“This award inspires me to continue to build and grow the important work we are doing to support education equity and literacy for all.”
                                                                                                   -Chris McGilvery


Slide Show



JUDITH’S AWARD – 2020 Freedom Through Literacy

Judith’s Award – $1,500

Ty Allan Jackson, “Big Head Books”
Bronx, New York

Too often, children’s books represent non-white protagonists within a narrow range of topics.  Award-winning author Ty Allan Jackson writes highly engaging books that buck this tradition, offering children who don’t always see themselves in the stories they read the opportunity for a  different portrayal of their lives.

His books, including Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire and The Supadupa Kid superhero series, have garnered the attention of several awards and features on local and national news. More importantly, they have reached countless young Black and other minoritzed children with a powerful message:
your story is limitless.

We recognize Ty as winner of the 2020 Judith’s Award for his commitment to expanding narratives with his books.

“As an Indie author winning this award is a surreal experience. Awards usually go to the more established authors. The ones with the big followings and who dominate the bookshelves in bookstores and libraries across the county. Not the authors fighting to be noticed or begging bookstore to carry our works. So this award means that the little guy can make it. Get the accolade and gain the respect of the world of literature. But most importantly receive the love for those we write and draw for…our children. 

Thank you for proving that our work matters!
                                                                                                  -Ty Allan Jackson”


Slide Show



BOARD OPTION PRIZES – 2020 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Prize – $500

Charmaine Tsosie, “Chinle Planting Hope”
Navajo Nation, Chinle, Arizona


Through her organization, Chinle Planting Hope, Charmaine Tsosie works tirelessly for her Diné (Navajo) community to
create educational opportunities for whole families. She and her team will establish a mobile library vibrant with adult and
children’s’ books to inspire inter-generational reading habits among families who currently do not have access to a brickand-mortar library in Chinle. We warmly honor Charmaine with a Board Option Award to accelerate her work on the
mobile library.
“Winning the award is such an honor to my community and me. It feels like the Navajo Nation is seen and heard.”
                                                                                                           -Charmaine Tsosie

Board Option Prize – $500

Basarat Kazim, “Camel Library for Kech Balochistan”
Lahore, Pakistan

Bringing libraries to sparsely populated communities in Pakistan requires creativity. For Basarat Kazim, the solution wasn’t on four wheels, but four legs. Camels, outfitted with custom-made book pouches, will carry hundreds of books to the district of Kech Balochistan. This effort specifically focuses on young girls, who often don’t have opportunities to attend school in the district. We proudly award Basarat a Board Option Award to help establish the first-ever camel library.
“Your support provides opportunities to thousands of girls to access treasures untold!! May they find the keys to the locked doors that hold them back.”


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