Judith’s Reading Room’s Alvin Irby CNN Heroes Finalist

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room ’s Alvin Irby CNN Heroes Finalist

Judith’s Reading Room recognized Irby as its 2019 Grand Prize Winner

December 10, 2023 —American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY — During tonight’s all-star tribute, CNN announced the top ten winners of its 2023 CNN Heroes competition.  Judith’s Reading Room is thrilled to acknowledge Alvin Irby, a Judith’s Reading Room 2019 Grand Prize winner.

Judith’s Reading Room is overjoyed to congratulate Alvin Irby, founder of Barbershop Books, for being recognized as a 2023 top ten CNN hero.  Six years ago,  Judith’s Reading Room highlighted Irby as its 2019 ‘Freedom Through Literacy’ Grand Prize winner for his creative approach to bring culturally-relevant, age-appropriate and gender-responsive books to foster literacy skills and a love of reading amongst young black boys.  We are thrilled that his work continues to resonate with people around the world.

CNN recognized his community-based program, Barbershop Books that creates inviting child-friendly reading spaces in over 250 urban barbershops for young black boys.

Annually, Judith’s Reading Room seeks champions of literacy like Alvin Irby — teachers, authors, librarians, educators, leaders of non-profit literacy organizations — anyone who instills in others a love of reading — to apply for the $5,000 award.  Apply now for the 2024 ‘Freedom Through Literacy Award,’ at www.judithsreadingroom.org. Deadline for applications is February 5, 2024.

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 global literacy organization was founded in 2010.  Its mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  It has achieved that mission by dedicating 105 libraries (and counting!) in 23 countries with over 132,000 books donated with a cover price value of $1.4 million.

## END ##

 

 

Judith’s Reading Room Sheds Light on Underprivileged Schoolchildren

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

 

Judith’s Reading Room Sheds Light on Underprivileged Schoolchildren in Mexico’s Tourist ‘Hot Spot’

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — December 7, 2023 — In one of Mexico’s most glamorous tourist towns, where cruise ships dominate the skyline and fancy hotels like the Four Seasons and Vidanta attract wealthy visitors, children of the poorest families — whose parents serve as restaurant dish washers, resort maids, and sellers of handmade crafts on the local beaches — attend a public school without a library, without books, without computers or laptops, and without an English teacher.

After having been re-routed due from Acapulco to Puerto Vallarta due to the catastrophic CAT 5 Hurricane ‘Otis’ that hit and destroyed Acapulco on October 24, 2023, Judith’s Reading Room founders, Scott and Cathy Leiber, found themselves in Puerto Vallarta where they chanced upon Escuela ‘Agustin Flores Contreras’ and proceeded to introduce themselves to a teacher and then the school principal.

Judith’s Reading Room was founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug , cousin to the founders, who served for 40 years as the Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association in Chicago, IL. The mission of Judith’s Reading Room is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.

It was in that spirit and commitment that the Leiber’s engaged with Maria Guadalupe Ramirez Lopez (Lupita), principal of the school, who for two hours explained the trials and tribulations of educating children in the public school system without resources. The school serves 189 children, ages 6-10, who go home each afternoon without books.

Ms. Ramirez-Lopez explained that just two days before our arrival she had had a meeting with parents who expressed their anxiety about the lack of books — and especially the lack of teaching in English — that they felt their children would never come out from under the yoke of illiteracy. They implored Ms. Ramirez-Lopez to find a way to help their children learn English so that they could enjoy the benefits of jobs serving the world’s English speaking tourists. Without knowing any of this, the Leibers arrived and explained to Ms. Ramirez-Lopez the mission of Judith’s Reading Room and their strong desire to inaugurate a library at the school. It would be the organization’s 106th library and its 2nd library in Mexico.

A chance encounter — met with a strong desire on the part of parents and teachers — led to an immediate commitment — to purchase $1,000 in children’s books and to return in February 2024. The agreement involves the parents, some of whom are carpenters, who will volunteer and build shelves in the room that will be designated as the Judith’s Reading Room library. Furthermore, four members of the Board of Directors will fly to Mexico the week of February 19th to read aloud children’s books in English and who will engage with teachers and parents to encourage a life-long love of reading.

The 106th Judith’s Reading Room library will be named in honor of Ms. Lola Danielli, Cathy Leiber’s high school Spanish teacher who Cathy credits with having “changed my life.” Ms. Danielli retired from teaching after 58 years in the Acalanes School System. Over 200 former students and friends attended her retirement party.

2023 Holiday Book Drive Announcement

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Kids Benefit from Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive

Judith’s Reading Room plans to establish kids’ book clubs

November 17, 2023 — Thanks to Barnes & Noble Wyomissing, Pa, Judith’s Reading Room will once again support schools and after school programs with children’s books.  For the 4th year in a row, this B&N location selected Judith’s Reading Room as its Holiday Book Drive Charity which runs from November to December 7th.

Most people have heard the words, “Book Club,” but how many relate those words with kids?  Since 2015, Judith’s Reading Room has been a  leading proponent of book clubs for children.  Why?  Because book clubs offer children the chance to discuss a book without judgment, listen to different opinions, assume leadership while asking probing questions and to generally understand what’s going on around them.

Judith’s Reading Room reported on the power of  kids’ book clubs  when it produced the documentary, ‘Cracking Open the Universe,’ that highlighted the importance of literacy as a significant protective factor for at-risk youth.  Featured at the 2015 LV Film Festival, it showcased the reality of children who come from families dealing with overwhelming issues such as loss of jobs, unsafe neighborhoods or family trauma.  At the invitation of the Children’s Home of Easton, Easton, Pa and Harkins’ House in Portland, Or, the organization’s film crew witnessed kids in the throes of book club sessions.  View the documentary HERE.

The Holiday Book Drive runs through December 7, 2023.  “Generous B&N customers are encouraged to donate a book at the check out counter and kids will get more than a book this year — they’ll get the unique, life-changing experience of participating in a book club,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  We have fulfilled that mission since 2010 by establishing 105 libraries in 23 countries (and counting!) with over 132,000 books donated.

To apply for the 2023 Judith’s Reading Room’s ‘Freedom Through Literacy Award’ and to learn more about its newest Awards, visit www.judithsreadingroom.org.

 

Judith’s Reading Room Award 2024 Application Season!

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Apply Now for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award 

Calling All Teachers, Authors & Librarians!

October 5, 2023 — Lehigh Valley, Pa — Judith’s Reading Room announced today that the 2024 Application for its prestigious global literacy award is available at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  The deadline for submission is February 5, 2024.

The Freedom Through Literacy Award recognizes the achievements of teachers, authors, librarians, educators, literacy nonprofits — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  Applicants are judged on five criteria including how their philosophy about literacy guides their work.

The organization’s annual $5,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated a decade ago to pay tribute to those on the front line of literacy.    Up to six applicants split the purse with $2,500 awarded to the Grand Prize Winner.

Since 2015, Judith’s Reading Room has awarded $53,500 to 60 champions of literacy from 17 countries and 11 U.S. states.

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy nonprofit organization was established in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ cousin, Judith F. Krug.  Its mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 105 libraries in 23 countries with over 132,000 books donated to serve tens of thousands of children and adults.

The Founders’ Award and The Literacy Chair Award are additional ways the organization celebrates the accomplishments of literacy champions around the world.  The Founders’ Award and The Literacy Chair Award are additional ways the organization celebrates the accomplishments of literacy champions around the world.  Visit www.judithsreadingroom.org to learn more.

2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award Flyer

 

Mobile  Literacy Stories Round Table in Acapulco, Mexico

NEWS RELEASE
CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room to Host Mobile 

Literacy Stories Round Table in Acapulco, Mexico

Organization has supported literacy in Mexico since 2017

October 2, 2023 — Lehigh Valley, Pa — Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization best known for its network of 105 libraries in 23 countries and its annual “Freedom Through Literacy Award” announced plans to host a mobile Literacy Stories Round Table in Acapulco, Mexico, November 7-8, 2023.

Capitalizing on its mission to “enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy,” the organization has invited the participation of, among others, Biblioteca Publica Municipal Rosendo Pintos Lacunza, Biblioteca Carmen Romando de Lopez Portillo and Biblioteca Publica Ramon Nogueda Lopez.  Librarians and Judith’s Reading Room board members will engage on questions such as:  What are the greatest obstacles librarians face in championing literacy in their community?

In 2017, Judith’s Reading Room committed to Mexico when it established its 96th library in conjunction with The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, Mexico naming that organization a 2017 Freedom Through Literacy Award ‘Honorable Mention.’  The $500 award was used to purchase 50 children’s books in English and Spanish for their Biblioteca Infantile ‘Bridge to English’ reading program serving more than 160 children.  Again in 2020, in conjunction with Judith’s Reading Room’s 10th Anniversary, The Palapa Society was declared one of its ‘Stand Out’ libraries and was once again awarded $500 to purchase new books.

Judith’s Reading Room has set three priorities for its inaugural mobile Literacy Stories Round Table in Mexico: First, geographically expand its commitment in Mexico by pinpointing an organization that would benefit from a Judith’s Reading Room library; establish a timetable for its dedication.  Second, amplify awareness of the organization’s 2024 “Freedom Through Literacy Award” and encourage qualified champions of literacy to apply.  Third, single out potential winners for the organization’s Founders’ Award and Literacy Chair Award.

Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy organization was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association for over 40 years.  Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 105 libraries (and counting) in 23 countries with over 132,000 donated books.

Applications for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted on October 5, 2023 at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  The Award honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations and educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  Since 2015, $53,500 in prizes has been awarded to 60 literacy champions in 17 countries.

The Founders’ Award, inaugurated in September 2022, is a cash prize at the discretion of Judith’s Reading Room founders to honor literacy heroes who have had to overcome immense obstacles in order to enrich lives through literacy.  Ms. Basarat Kazim, Alif Laila Book Bus Society, Lehore, Pakistan and Ms. Simon Ke, Anjali House, Siem Reap, Cambodia were the 2022 recipients, each receiving a cash award of $1,000.

The Literacy Chair Award, inaugurated in October 2022, is in honor of or in memory of a champion of literacy nominated by a Judith’s Reading Room member of the Board of Directors.  The Literacy Chair Award is a non-cash award presented with a one-of-a-kind piece of art to illustrate the power of literacy through art.  Dr. Lisette Caesar, former principal and founder of Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem, NY was named recipient of the inaugural 2022 Literacy Chair Award.  In 2023, the Award went to the Chautauqua-Cattaragus Library System of 38 libraries and its Bemus Point librarian, Shannon Donovan, for their “CCLS Road Trip” summer program that seeks to reduce ‘summer slide.’

**END**

 

Banned Books Week at Harkins House

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Judith’s Reading Room Celebrates Banned Books Week
Harkins House Receives Collection of YA Books 

22 September 2023 Hillsboro, Oregon —In recognition of Banned Books Week, the global literacy nonprofit organization Judith’s Reading Room hosted a special event at Washington County’s Harkins House with a donation of mostly banned or challenged YA fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels.   The organization established a library at the residential home in May 2012.

Judith F. Krug, a prominent First Amendment and library activist, in whose memory Judith’s Reading Room was founded in 2010, fervently believed that no one should tell another person what they can or cannot read.  Judy is credited with creating Banned Books Week in 1982 in her capacity as Director, Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association in Chicago, Illinois .  

Every year, the American Library Association compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.  It is notable that 2022 marked the year when demands to censor library resources was the highest since the ALA began compiling data about censorship more than 20 years ago.

Scott Leiber, co-founder, Judith’s Reading Room and first cousin to Judy will make brief remarks to the residents and staff at Harkins House about Judy’s lifetime commitment to the First Amendment.  For over 40 years, Judy led the American Library Association’s prestigious Office for Intellectual Freedom.  In that capacity, she defended librarians, teachers, authors and book publishers who came under attack for offering books that someone objected to. 

To honor the spirit of Banned Books Week, Judith’s Reading Room purchased many of the top challenged books to donate to Harkins House including:  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie, Lawn Boy by Evison, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky and Looking for Alaska by Green.

“These books are intended to provide fun for youth impacted by the Juvenile Justice System residing at Harkins House,” said Cathy L. Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.  “Research shows that reading for pleasure can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being,” she added.

Today’s donation brings to a total 631 books donated since 2012 to Harkins House at a value of $7,874.  This demonstrates the organization’s on going commitment to support the education and mental health of young people by providing them books that can help navigate difficult times and build resilience.

The mission of Judith’s Reading Room is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  Its signature event, the annual Freedom Through Literacy Award honors teachers, authors, and librarians who have done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  To date the organization has dedicated 105 libraries in 23 countries, serving tens of thousands of children and adults with more than 132,000 books donated worth $1.4 million.

To apply for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award, visit the organization’s website on October 5, 2023 at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  The deadline for applications is February 5, 2024.


 

2023 Literacy Chair Award Celebration

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

 Government Officials Declare Support of the
Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System
Judith’s Reading Room hosts 2023 Literacy Chair Award Winner

 

August 15, 2023 — Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit literacy organization based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, celebrated the winner of its 2nd Annual Literacy Chair Award — the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System — for its innovative “CCLS Road Trip” project, a summertime initiative that seeks to remind everyone that libraries have a lot to offer and encourages the public to get back into the library. 

More than three dozen Chautauqua-Cattaragus county library board members, librarians and library staff, teachers, and politicians joined Scott and Cathy Leiber, co-founders of Judith’s Reading Room, at today’s celebratory event at Bemus Point Public Library in western New York.  Chautauqua County Executive Paul Wendel, and a representative of Nicholas Langworthy’s (NY-23) Congressional Office and Andrew Goodell’s NYS Assembly’s office spoke about the importance of community libraries and underlined their support for librarians.  

Government officers recognize importance of libraries and underscore their commitment to them.

Government officers recognize importance of libraries and underscore their commitment to them.

Judith’s Reading Room voted the “CCLS Road Trip” project as winner of its  2023 Literacy Chair Award because the project perfectly addresses “summer slide,” the so-called loss of reading competency while students eschew books over more playful activities.  “The Road Trip instills a sense of wanderlust and each library showcases the perfect books for the perfect readers, thanks to the librarians who have created unique environments within their libraries,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

In 2022, while on vacation, the founders of Judith’s Reading Room visited the Bemus Point Public Library and met its director, Shannon Donovan.  Donovan did a “first-rate” public relations job in explaining the “CCLS Road Trip.” For her enthusiastic support of reading for fun and for offering a unique, cozy feel at her library, it was decided that the 2023 Judith’s Reading Room’s Literacy Chair Award would be awarded to Shannon on behalf of the other 37 librarians in the CCLS system. 

 

Shannon Donovan receives recognition for her role in promoting the winning 2023 Literacy Chair Award. Sculpture by Kirsten Engstrom.

Shannon Donovan receives recognition for her role in promoting the winning 2023 Literacy Chair Award. Sculpture by Kirsten Engstrom.

LJ Martin, Outreach & Youth Services Consultant, CCLS, was also honored at today’s event.  Leiber acknowledged that the idea for the “Road Trip” had been created and incubated at the county level.  To encourage Martin and her team’s continued imagination and community outreach, she was recognized for the important role administrators play in executing county-wide initiatives. 

 

LJ Martin, Outreach & Youth Services, CCLS Library System created “Road Trip” program. She is presented with a Kirsten Engstrom sculpture.

LJ Martin, Outreach & Youth Services, CCLS Library System created “Road Trip” program. She is presented with a Kirsten Engstrom sculpture.

Judith’s Reading Room commissioned sculptor Kirsten Engstrom to design sculptures that would illustrate the power of literacy through art. Her clay sculptures of a seated woman with a beaming smile, holding an open book in her lap will grace the entrance at Bemus Point Public Library and at the executive offices of LJ Martin.  Engstrom’s work may be seen throughout Chautauqua Institution and in the town of Mayville, NY.

Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy organization was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association for over 40 years.  Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 105 libraries (and counting) in 23 countries with over 132,000 donated books.  

Applications for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted on October 5, 2023 at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  The Award honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations and educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  Since 2015, 60 champions of literacy from 17 countries have been awarded $53,000 in cash prizes.

 

2023 Literacy Chair Award

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

  Judith’s Reading Room names winner of its  2023 Literacy Chair Award
Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System Highlighted for its Road Trip project

July 12, 2023 — Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, announced today the winner of its 2nd Annual Literacy Chair Award — the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System — for its innovative “CCLS Road Trip” project, a summertime initiative that seeks to remind everyone that libraries have a lot to offer and encourages the public to get back into the library. 

From June 1st – August 31st, member libraries are giving away free Road Trip maps that pave the way for residents to visit the participating libraries, like a scavenger hunt.  Exciting programming, crafts and story time programs are offered at each library with plenty of incentives designed to excite families looking for something to do during the summer. 

“Based on the positive and fun feedback from those who participated last year and from our librarians, we are excited to see the community come out for this year’s Road Trip. We have 38 libraries in our system, and each one will offer families something different to enjoy this summer,” stated LJ Martin, Outreach & Youth Services Consultant, CCLS.

Judith’s Reading Room voted the “CCLS Road Trip” project as winner of its  2023 Literacy Chair Award because the project perfectly addresses “summer slide,” the so-called loss of reading competency while students eschew books over more playful activities.  “The Road Trip instills a sense of wanderlust and each library showcases the perfect books for the perfect readers, thanks to the librarians who have created unique environments within their libraries,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

In 2022, the founders of Judith’s Reading Room happened upon the Bemus Point Public Library and met its director, Shannon Donovan.  Shannon did a “first-rate” public relations job in explaining the “CCLS Road Trip.” For her enthusiastic support of reading for fun and for offering a unique, cozy feel at her library, it was decided that the 2023 Literacy Chair Award would find a home in her library on behalf of all 38 system libraries. 

Judith’s Reading Room commissioned sculptor Kirsten Engstrom to design a piece that would illustrate the power of literacy through art. Her clay sculpture of a seated woman with a beaming smile, holding an open book in her lap will be awarded to Bemus Point Public Library Director, Shannon Donovan at a reception in August.  Kirsten Engstrom’s work may be seen throughout Chautauqua Institution and in the town of Mayville, NY.

The Award will be given at a reception in honor of the “CCLS Road Trip” project on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 3 p.m.  Librarians and “road trippers” are cordially invited.

Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room, a 501 (c) 3 literacy organization was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association for over 40 years.  Judith’s Reading Room’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 105 libraries (and counting) in 23 countries with over 132,000 donated books.  

Applications for the 2024 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted on October 5, 2023 at www.judithsreadingroom.org.  The Award honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations and educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  Since 2015, 60 champions of literacy from 17 countries have been awarded $53,000 in cash prizes.

Reading for Fun at ‘Harkins House’ Builds Resilience

NEWS RELEASE 
CONTACT:  Cathy Leiber

Literacy is a Significant Protective Factor for At-Risk Youth
— Reading for Fun at ‘Harkins House’ Builds Resilience —

9 May 2023 — Washington County’s Harkins House and Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit literacy organization, today announced their latest collaboration to enhance Judith’s Reading Room’s library established there in 2012.

Today’s donation of 46 books curated by Harkins House staff is intended to provide books for fun for youth impacted by the Juvenile Justice System residing at ‘Harkins House’ in Hillsboro, Oregon. The donation is part of Judith’s Reading Room’s ongoing efforts to support the education and mental health of young people around the world.

The books cover a wide range of genres, from adventure and mystery to science fiction, and were carefully selected by Harkins House staff affirming that reading for fun can be a powerful tool to help young people navigate difficult times and build resilience.

“Research shows that reading for pleasure can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Our hope is that these books will provide a source of comfort, escape, and inspiration for the youth,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

Judith’s Reading Room has donated a total of 581 books worth over $7,000 to Washington County Juvenile Detention Center’s ‘Harkins House,’ an organization that provides a range of services, including counseling, support groups, and mentorship, to help young people overcome challenges such as addiction, trauma, and family issues.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation from Judith’s Reading Room,” said Martha Villegas, Juvenile Service Supervisor. “Reading can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth, and we know that these books will be a valuable addition to our programs,” she added.

Judith’s Reading Room was established in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, a librarian and Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.  Its mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  Its signature event, the annual Freedom Through Literacy Award honors teachers, authors, and librarians who have done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.   To date, the organization has dedicated 105 libraries in 23 countries, serving tens of thousands of children and adults with more than 132,000 books donated worth more than $1.4 million. To learn more, visit www.judithsreadingroom.org.

Thank you so much for stopping by we appreciate your support and taking the time to fly out to meet with staff and youth. Today I came to work and had youths handing me names of books to keep in mind for next time you are out, which say’s a lot about their enthusiasm of reading. These are youth who report never picking up a book to read for fun in their life.

Continue the good work! We look forward to fostering an ongoing partnership with “Judith’s Reading Room”. We have many ideas so we hope to apply for your grant/prize next year to support specific books that we can use in youth programming at Harkins House.

Martha Villegas
Juvenile Service Supervisor 

Winners of 2023 “Freedom Through Literacy Award.”

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org


Author who helps kids bring their biggest ideas to life wins

 2023 “Freedom Through Literacy Award” Grand Prize


February 13, 2023 — Judith’s Reading Room, a global nonprofit literacy organization founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a distinguished librarian, is pleased to announce the winners of its 9th annual “Freedom Through Literacy Award.”  The judges declared eight (8) champions of literacy with a combined financial award of $5,000.


“The organization’s global footprint expanded in 2023 thanks to the number of applications received from the U.S. and abroad,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.


2023 Grand Prize Winner


The $2,500 Grand Prize goes to award-winning children’s book author Ty Jackson for his youth financial literacy project:  “The Danny Dollar Entrepreneur Fair,” Fresno, California.  Ty, a previous winner of the coveted Judith’s Award, developed a creative program based on his book, Make Your Own Money:  How Kids Can Earn It, Save It, Spend It, and Dream Big.   The Danny Dollar Entrepreneur Fair premiered in 2022 in Pittsfield, MA where 300 fifth graders read his book and learned how they could start making, saving and spending money now. This program is successful because it makes reading fun and empowers kids to bring their ideas into the world.


“Ty teaches entrepreneurship to kids and in doing so, he is practicing what he preaches,” said Scott Leiber, co-founder, Judith’s Reading Room.  Ty hopes to expand the Entrepreneur Fair across the country.  He would love to hear from educators who would like to implement the program.  Reach out to rachael@bigheadbooks.com to find out more.


2023 Judith’s Award Winner


The $1,500 Judith’s Award winner is Amber Drinen for “R.E.A.D. in Beauty Bookmobile” project, an initiative of Chinle Planting Hope in Chinle, Arizona, a Native-controlled nonprofit that supervises the Bookmobile which serves 34,000 members of the Navajo Nation, where there is no public library.


There is great excitement about the Bookmobile, according to David Goldberg, MD, who notes in his letter of reference, “There is an ambitious, thoughtful plan to bring books and library programing to the communities surrounding Chinle.  Lives are about to be enriched; memories will be formed; and sparks of wonder are in the offing.” For example, Bookmobile staff provide assistance with laptops, internet and STEM activities while maintaining the on-board library of 10,000 catalogued books for children K-12.


Drinen adds, “Children must experience the joy of a good story and what it means to lose yourself in the pages. Reading gives simple breaks in our ordinary lives and helps us dream of more.”


2023 Board Option Award Winners


Victor Owuor, after -school program coordinator, the Sunflower Trust, Nairobi, Kenya for his project, “Pathway to Alternative Learning Education (PALE).”  As World Literacy Ambassador since 2022 representing Kenya, Victor understands what it means when one lacks resources to attend school:  He was born and bred in the informal settlement of Kibera slum, Nairobi.  Sunflower Trust works in partnership with community schools to identify girls, in the fifth grade, who are at risk of ending their education early and transitions them to the after-school, part-time PALE program.  At PALE, literacy groups help the girls develop critical thinking, communication and reasoning skills.  Sunflower is also committed to involving parents and caregivers through focus groups and one-on-one meetings.   The girls are challenged to write their own books which has encouraged them to read a variety of books to borrow ideas for their own stories.  “Literacy as leadership and a form of justice is at the core of our programming,” said Owuor.  He added, “while there are many literate youths in the world, there are few who are truly freely literate — whose voices are heard, whose opinions and beliefs are listened to and honored, and who have the ability to fully express themselves and be who they want to be.”  For his dedication to changing lives one at a time, Judith’s Reading Room awards Victor with a USD$400 Board Option Prize.


Colin Bloom, 16 year-old New York City high school student and founder of a literacy nonprofit for his project, “Creating a Library for Literacy at the Senianya Primary School in Mpumalanga, South Africa.”  Colin is a standout on multiple levels:  as a teenager, he established a nonprofit, Libraries for Literacy, has dedicated two libraries in impoverished rural South Africa, has assertively insinuated himself into partnerships with global entities, and has shown tenacity, drive, entrepreneurship, compassion and a desire to learn and improve from each experience.  As Colin points out, “Learning to read without books is like learning to play soccer without a ball, impossible but relevant to many South African kids who are expected to become literate without access to books.”  For his spirited determination to use his life to work towards the goal in which all children have access to a good education, Judith’s Reading Room awards Colin with a USD$200 Board Option Prize.


Evangelia Ritzaleou, award-winning high school teacher, Drama, Greece for her project, “School Reading and Creative Writing Club.”  Evangelia knows what she is talking about when she documents the effects of book clubs on kids — she has, after all, headed up a Reading and Creative Writing Club at her school for 15 years.  Her efforts have resulted in kids feeling that they are “equal” members of a club, and with this new-found confidence, they become effective speakers, writers, critical thinkers, listeners and communicators.  Evangelia has expanded her school library from 20 books to 530 and boasts that her school library serves not only as a place for reading and writing but also as a refuge for introverted kids.
She says, “Joining a Reading and Creative Writing Club is a path from literacy to critical literacy and that lifelong readers have the culture of reading instead of being addicted to social media.”  For her passionate commitment to enriching the lives of high school children through the beauty of a book club, Judith’s Reading Room awards Evangelia a USD$200 Board Option Prize.

Pamela Laskin, author, New York City for her project, “Diversity and Differently-Abled.”  Two-time Freedom Through Literacy Award winner, Laskin has completed a series of picture books that capture the world of those who are differently-abled; in particular, those without speech, and what it means in a family.   She reads these books aloud in public school classrooms with the goal to educate a mainstream audience.  Laskin says, “books have been written about children with special needs, but what makes my project innovative and creative is that the books are written from the point of view of the young people who ARE differently-abled.”  Through her work, this diverse population will no longer be marginalized.  For her insistence in presenting differently-abled people, she is helping establish human dignity with a focus on what can be done, not what can’t, Judith’s Reading Room awards Pamela with a USD$200 Board Option Prize.




Honorable Mentions


Cynthia Jacobsen, Ph.D. Speech Pathologist and Researcher, Longmont, Colorado for her life-work project, “Rhyming to Reading:  Early Literacy Curriculum.”  Dr. Jacobsen, co-authored Rhyming to Reading, an early literacy program for children 4-7 whose goal was to create a program to help young children learn skills that are highly predictive of early reading success. Thousands of children participated in the group classes at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics for 20 years prior to the COVID pandemic.  Dr. Jacobsen collected evidenced based outcomes and clinical data to develop the program.    She says, “Literacy instruction must be evidenced-based, with methods which are known to help children.”  For her life-time devotion to helping children and families learn methods to overcome literacy challenges such as dyslexia, Judith’s Reading Room wishes to give Dr. Jacobsen global recognition through an Honorable Mention.


Joseph Tsongo, Coordinator, Amani Academy, Goma, North-Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, for his project, “Amani Academy for Peace Literacy.”  Born in the middle of war in 1994 in the province of North Kivu, Joseph challenged himself to inspire young people to rebuild, despite the traumatic ordeals they were facing on a daily basis.  Since 2016, he has organized resilience and community building activities to promote a culture of active non-violence.  Through the Amani Academy, which he initiated in 2018, he introduces children to the basics of reading.  In 2022, Joseph was named a 2022 Mandela Washington Fellow, a program of the U.S. State Department.  For his determination to foster literacy and peace in the context of violent conflict, Judith’s Reading Room proudly recognizes Joseph Tsongo as a Freedom Through Literacy Award Honorable Mention.


Judith’s Reading Room


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 105 libraries (and counting!) in 23 countries with more than 132,000 books donated worth $1.42 million dollars.


The “Freedom Through Literacy Award” was initiated in 2015 as the organization’s signature event.  Including the 2023 winners, the organization has disbursed $53,500 in cash awards to 60 champions of literacy.  Winners hail from 17 countries:  Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Greece, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, South Africa, the United States of America and Zimbabwe.  Winners come from 11 U.S. states:  Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.


To learn more about Judith’s Reading Room and its full array of literacy awards, visit www.judithsreadingroom.org.


— END —
  • Donate Now

    We ask that you please make a donation to Judith’s Reading Room, in support of our ongoing recognition of what is being accomplished in the great world of literacy, as well as funding our shipment of children’s books, both domestically and internationally.