News out of Nigeria – New shipment of children’s books to Yola By-Pass

Photos and a letter from Karon K. Harden, Academic Liaison for Community Engagement and Service Learning at the American University of Nigera, Yola By-Pass News for Nigeria - children inspecting the packages of books

I am happy to report that thanks to the books we received from the March 2013 shipment from Judith’s Reading Room, we were able to inaugurate our STELLAR project lending library yesterday.

The 70 books were distributed to 35 pupils that we tutor in primary grades 3 and 4 at Musdafa Model Primary School here in Yola. Each pupil took home 2 books. As you can see from the photos, I carefully “packaged” each book in a Hefty Ziploc Freezer bag for extra protection in transit. We want them to last as long as possible (but I’d rather they get dirty being read than stay clean on a shelf somewhere!). I also sent home a laminated letter in Hausa and English with each book explaining the program to the parents and asking them for their support in helping the children to read and to take care of the books. The tutors will also be asking each child about their books when they bring them back. News From Nigeria - books to take home!

We tutor these pupils every Monday and Wednesday. The pupils will bring their books back at each tutoring session and exchange them for another … In all we tutor up to 400 pupils per semester, so the more books the merrier.

I hope these pictures help me express my gratitude for your generosity.

An added note, from a correspondence after the the photos were received…I’m glad you like the pictures. By the way, in this culture, people are not taught to smile for pictures like we are – in fact, the default is a straight face, so if you see some of the children straight-faced, don’t think that they are mad or grumpy or anything. I kept telling them to smile, and they kept trying NOT to smile! 🙂

Karon K. Harden
Academic Liaison for Community Engagement and Service Learning
Lecturer, Communication Studies
American University of Nigeria


Judith’s Reading Room Intern, Erin D’Amilio named Fulbright Scholar!

Our 2012-2013 intern, Erin D’Amelio, a senior at Lafayette College, learned today that she has been named Fulbright Scholar. Erin will travel to Malaysia in January 2014 to serve as an English teaching assistant as a part of the Fulbright’s U.S. Student Program. Erin will assemble a hand-picked collection of children’s books from the Judith’s Reading Room collection to transport with her to Malaysia to establish a library in her honor.

Erin served as intern at Judith’s Reading Room last summer and worked on several major projects including our 2012 Report to the Community, a library dedication at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital and implementation of Judith’s Reading Room’s Banned Books Week project for which we were named one of eight nationwide award recipients of the American Library Association’s Krug Award. She has continued to support the organization and will resume working at Judith’s Reading Room following her graduation.

Congratulations to Erin from everyone at Judith’s Reading Room!

Book Donation Aimed at Young Veterans with Children

Judith’s Reading Room Military Program Expands to New York – Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization that serves active-duty military and returning vets, expands to New York.  Canandaigua VA, New York, is the eighth VA hospital to join its “VA 100” book donation program.

The latest request for books came from the library at Canandaigua VA, southeast of Rochester, New York, where the hospital is seeing more young men and women veterans with children who are currently returning from active duty and utilizing the services of the VA.

The organization will ship 50 new and gently-read children’s books every other month beginning in April to Canandaigua VA in honor of Doris Leiber, mother of Co-Founder, Scott Leiber.  Doris, a native New Yorker, member of the Greatest Generation, Navy veteran, WWII, where she served as a WAVE based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and mother of five, will turn 90 in August.  “This donation in honor of my mother will enrich lives by providing books to those that do not have access to them,” said Leiber.  “Doris Leiber — a member of the Greatest Generation continues to give service through the gift of these books,” he added.

Judith’s Reading Room launched its “VA 100” Program in November 2010 when it began shipping 100 paperback books each month to interested VA hospitals.  The idea was inspired by several board members who wanted to honor the veterans in their families.  Since November 2010, the organization has shipped 9,507 books worth $81,438 to eight VA hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

The VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa was the first VA hospital to sign up for the “VA 100” Program.  Other VA hospitals followed:  Coatesville Veteran’s Hospital, the VA in Altoona,  Butler Health Care and the PA Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Pennsylvania; and the VA in East Orange, New Jersey.  This month, Judith’s Reading Room expanded to two New York VA hospitals:  the VA at Albany and Canandaigua VA.

1000 Books Donated to Hispanic Center Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program

Judith’s Reading Room donated 1,000 books to the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley for use in its Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.HCLV-WIC-9

Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley serves about 2,500 low income individuals each month whose children are typically not enrolled in daycare or pre-K programs. As a result, these vulnerable children start kindergarten without the reading skills and confidence necessary to succeed in school.

Every child enrolled in the WIC program will receive a new book on their first birthday from Judith’s Reading Room, estimated at 50 a month.

“This beautiful donation couldn’t come at a better time,” says Lorna Velazquez, executive director of HCLV, which is located in Bethlehem. “As funding dwindles for important initiatives such as the SPARK Early Literacy Program, our community looks for ways to incorporate books and reading into our children’s lives.”

The collection of gently used and new books valued at $8,870 was curated by Ana Luhrs, a librarian at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. who grew up in a family that received services from WIC.

“As a young girl, I would often accompany my mother to our local WIC office and I can recall spending many hours sitting in the waiting room with little to keep me occupied,” says Luhrs, a board member of Judith’s Reading Room. “I know that my 11-year-old self would have loved to have access to books during those long afternoons.”


The library, which includes an extensive collection of the popular SkippyJon Jones books, Spanish and bilingual titles, is being donated in honor of Luhrs’ parents, Nydia Theodorakis and Luis Alberto Ramirez and other hardworking families struggling to provide for their children.

Hello everyone:

Today was an amazing day! I remember the first call I received from Cathy Leiber and how passionate she was about helping us. I never imagined that call would result in Judith’s Reading Room donating 1,000 books and a beautiful cart that now lives in our WIC Program reception area. The books are just beautiful and many are bilingual. Our partnership with Judith’s Reading Room will help promote literacy, parental engagement and allow us the opportunity to have volunteers read to our kids while they wait to be served. We have two of our seniors signed up to spend a few hours a week reading to our children.

I have to thank our amazing WIC Program staff and Maternal & Health Family Services for their support. Maternal & Family Health Services funds our WIC Program and we work as partners to provide quality service to our participants.

We are doing great things TOGETHER! Thank you Judith’s Reading Room!!

Check out the cool pictures.

Thank you,

Lorna Velázquez
Executive Director
Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley

14 Year Old Student Surprises Judith’s Reading Room On Martin Luther King Day of Service

Alyson Frey, an eighth grade student at Easton Area Middle School arrived Monday, Martin Luther King Day, at Judith’s Reading Room, with her parents and younger sister, Rachel, in a van packed with 2,500 children’s books she had collected from friends and neighbors.

Alyson and Rachel with Books being Donated to Judith's Reading Room

Alyson organized a Facebook event, sent e-mails, wrote letters and flyers to get the word out about her desire to collect books for people who can’t afford books.  Friends and family here and across the country responded.  “New books were sent to us by friends in Arizona and California,” Alyson said.  She dedicated 50 hours to her literacy project in honor of Judith’s Reading Room, which far exceeds the 20 hours of service required by the National Junior Honor Society.

“It was fitting that today, on Martin Luther King’s Day of Service, a young book-lover surprised us with a van filled with outstanding children’s literature, “ said Cathy Leiber, Co-Founder of Judith’s Reading Room.  “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of both Alyson and her 11 year-old sister Rachel, continued Leiber.  The sisters agreed that the books they donated today will be sent to eight libraries the organization will open this year in East Java, Indonesia, serving 2,212 children.

Alyson’s mother learned about Judith’s Reading Room in a local newspaper article and suggested that Alyson devote her community service to a single project.  “It seemed like the perfect idea since Alyson loves books,” said Jennifer Frey, Alyson’s mother.  The goal was to collect 1,000 children’s books, which seemed like a real stretch.  Alyson described herself as “ecstatic” when she realized that she had, in fact, collected 2,500.

Children's Books being donated to Judith's Reading Room on MLK Day

View the broadcast from 69 WFMZ News!

What a great testimonial!

Hi Cathy,

In the midst of a series of horror stories we call the news, I saw a ray of sunshine. A lovely story about two dear Easton Area Middle School sisters who donated 2500 childrens’ books to none other than Judith’s Reading Room. See how your good work inspires others to do the same!

CONGRATULATIONS, not only on the windfall but on dedicating your energy to making a difference.


PS – I think Judith Reading Room presentations to schools is in your future.

Marijke Philipsen
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble

Thanks Marijke!

Judith’s Reading Room Library Opens in Polenë

On Wednesday, December 19th 2012, Judith’s Reading Room opened its second library in Albania in the historic village of Polenë, outside the city of Korçë. At the primary school there, teachers and students spent the last day of school before the winter break, organizing books and setting-up the English language library. The library will be used to help improve students’ reading skills. The school in Polenë serves about sixty students enrolled in all grade levels from kindergarten to ninth grade, and has a staff of eight teachers. Children have English classes two to three times a week starting in third grade.

In addition to enjoying a visit from Santa Claus, children at the school were able to spend some time looking through the school’s new library which included many interesting titles requested by the teachers. The children made signs expressing their love of reading, and were excited to finally receive the shipment of books. They were happy that Judith’s Reading Room was able to provide them with the books. Dennis Dias, a local Peace Corps Volunteer who coordinated the event, helped teachers distribute books to the children.Judith's Reading Room in Polenë

[note color=”#b5a66b”]Please check out  the Sunday Express-Times site, Sara K. Satulla  wrote an awesome story on Judith’s Reading Room in the VALLEY Section’s back page in regards to the opening of this library …..  Judith’s Reading Room, Bethlehem-based nonprofit, opens its 45th library.[/note]

Zana Begollari, an English teacher in Polenë, gave a short speech commemorating the event, saying “These books are important to helping us communicate freely in English as a foreign language. Step by step, we must practice the English language. In these books are words we must use daily.” Fredi Mançi, another teacher at the school, explained “These books are new and different. We can all make use of them, the teachers as well, and there is a good possibility of improving our English skills as well in order to share the joy of these books with the children.” Ilir Filovani, the director of this school, said the school had a great need for the books and appreciated the gift.

The children remarked on the familiarity of some characters in the books like Sleeping Beauty and SpongeBob, and were motivated to start reading to learn more about them. One student, Christina, read a passage from her favorite book to the rest of the students present. At the end of the event, Ms Begollari led her English students to say “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Judith’s Reading Room had previously opened a library in the neighboring village of Qatrom.

30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week

Flash-Mob Read-Out with 30 individuals walking/converging while reading from passages in 30 banned books – one for each year since the inception of Banned Books Week in America.

Judith’s Reading Room is also active in providing books to the men and woman who serve, or have served, in the US Military, our honored veterans and active-duty soldiers.

Lafayette College’s Kirby librarian Ana Ramirez Luhrs and Erin D’Amelio ’13, a double major in English and French, organized the event along with a number of related activities protesting the banning of books by schools, bookstores, and libraries across the country. Also part of the week, at Lafayette’s Skillman Library, Alan Gribben, professor of English at Auburn University, presented “The Price of Fighting Censorship: Mark Twain Editions Today”. Professor Bianca Falbo and Professor Andrew Smith held an informal roundtable discussion, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”, of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

[note color=”#7d92e8″] Flashmob Eva GrazelStoryteller Eva Grayzel performed using Judith Krug’s quotes on censorship as her inspiration.[/note]

30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week: Judith’s Reading Room will honor Judith F. Krug, founder of Banned Books Week, in whose memory the organization is named. Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom for 40 years before her death in 2009 was a towering champion of free speech and a vigorous opponent of censorship.

The American Library Association (ALA) named Judith’s Reading Room as one of eight recipients of this year’s Krug Fund Grant in support of Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week, took place September 30 to October 6, 2012, celebrates the freedom to access information, while drawing attention to the harms of censorship. 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week.

32nd Library donated to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation’s Recreation Therapy Room

Judith’s Reading Room donated its 32nd library today to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital’s Recreation Therapy Room. The Therapy Room aims to return its patients to their highest possible level of function and independence. Today’s donation is comprised of 300 hand chosen books and a mobile cart with a total value of $7,562.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Recreation Room LibraryThe recreation therapy room is available to more than 200 individuals daily, including patients in the Rehabilitation Hospital, long-term care residents, residents of the supportive independent living apartments on campus and all of their respective families.

“Because of the gift of literature, our patients’ rehabilitation process will be greatly enhanced. Reading has so many benefits that can complement a patient’s journey through rehabilitation,” said Frank Hyland, vice president of Rehabilitation Services. “On behalf of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital, I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Judith’s Reading Room for this generous donation.”

The Judith’s Reading Room mobile library cart includes a variety of books that accommodate the diverse patient population, ranging from 18 to 80 years of age. Patients and their families will be able to benefit from a mix of new fiction, nonfiction, and coffee table books that have been obtained through book publishers and from a generous donation by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Gerhard in honor of their daughter, Kristen.

Judith's Reading Room at Good Shepherd

The Morning Call’s video of Erin D’Amelio, Judith’s Reading Room 2012 summer intern on the creation of the library for Good Shepherd.

After establishing its first library at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem in February 2010, the founders of Judith’s Reading Room are thrilled to continue their partnership with Good Shepherd. “Giving these special patients the gift of literature, which will help with their therapy, corresponds perfectly with our mission at Judith’s Reading Room,” said Scott Leiber, co-founder, Judith’s Reading Room. “We are grateful to have a wonderful partner in Good Shepherd.”

Please visit Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Services for more information on all they have to offer.

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