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.
TEACH Rwanda’s Founder and President, Jan Brown, has been honored as an “individual champion of literacy” for her “exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.”
Judith’s Reading Room presented its Freedom Through Literacy awards on May 6 at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA. Jan was in Rwanda, so her husband, Bill Whipple, accepted the runner-up award on her behalf.
“Under Janet’s leadership, TEACH Rwanda has been educating Rwandan teachers and equipping school libraries with culturally relevant and engaging literature since 2012. Thanks to Janet’s dedication, hundreds of children in TEACH Rwanda schools have the change to become prolific readers, writers, and artists.”
TEACH Rwanda is grateful for this $1000 gift, which enables us to continue to promote a culture of reading in Rwanda
Vision Empower Rwandan teachers to implement international best practices in early childhood education.
Mission Develop Model Schools in Rwanda—centers of excellence—that meet the organization’s high standards. Partner with leaders of NGOs, educators, families, and communities to offer professional development to pre-service and in-service teachers in Model Schools. Operate as a transparent, efficient, cost-effective, sustainable organization that wisely allocates all donations.
Ms. Basarat Kazim, “Alif Laila Book Bus Society’s Mobile Bus Library” Lahore, Pakistan
Basarat believes that by providing access to quality literature, in a country that spends less than 2% on education, will inspire life-long learners and, most importantly, develop positive attitudes so critical for a tolerant society. Convinced that books are change agents and that libraries for children are places of independent research, critical thinking and imagination power houses, Basarat sets a determined and noteworthy commitment to literacy in Pakistan.
The Alif Laila Book Bus Society, the non-profit organization led by Basarat, strives to “color Pakistan with quality books and happy reading spaces in communities, schools and rural areas” in order to inspire children to become effective communicators and citizens — this in a country where the majority of children cannot read at grade level.
The metamorphosis of a dilapidated double decker bus into a wonderland of books that travels around Lahore happened more than three decades go. Under Basarat’s direction, guest speakers, story tellers, puppet shows, and big buddy/little buddy shared reading programs nurture an early love of reading and on a higher level, offer teacher training, resource and material development and literacy programs management all in a warm, welcoming environment.
Basarat is responsible for growing Alif Laila Book Bus Society from a mobile library to an entire nationwide educational complex. To date, she has established 100 primary school libraries, five community libraries, hobby clubs, and, of course, its colorfully bright book mobile bus.
We warmly recognize Basarat Kazim as the 2015 Top Prize winner of the Freedom Through Literacy Award for her role in developing sustainable initiatives to combat illiteracy in Pakistan. For more information visit Alif Laila Society.
Under Janet’s leadership, TEACH Rwanda has been educating Rwandan teachers — who had never seen a child’s book — and equipping school libraries with culturally relevant and engaging literature since 2012. Jan’s focus is on using the power of books to reveal the wonders of the surrounding and far away world to the 3-6 year olds TEACH Rwanda supports. Thanks to the dedicated TEACH Rwanda volunteers, who carry books and puzzles in their suitcases, hundreds of children in TEACH Rwanda schools have the chance to become prolific readers, writers, and artists.
Janet spent her life working in the field of pre-school education emphasizing reading readiness and exposing children, teachers and parents to the best in children’s literature. Several years ago, she flew to Africa to set up pre-schools and teacher training programs in Rwanda, a country ravished in the 1994 genocide that killed hundreds of thousands.
We recognize Janet Brown as Runner-Up in the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award for equipping teachers and librarians with the skills to upgrade the quality of education in Rwanda to become self-sufficient and for bringing the best quality of culturally sensitive children’s literature to the people of Rwanda. For more information visit TEACH Rwanda.
Ms. Thinley Choden, “READ Bhutan”
Thinley Choden believes that literacy is the foundation for gainful engagement with the world, a stepping stone to pursue our dreams. Bhutan is traditionally an oral society with a 54% literacy rate. Thinley leads READ Bhutan, the only organization building a network of self-sustaining community public libraries — where there was previously no public library system — and using them as a platform for education, community and enterprise development.
Thanks to Thinley’s pioneering work, today over 35,000 people have access to books where there were none. She is considered to have done more than any other person in Bhutan to promote a love of reading and to create a culture of literacy.
We recognize Thinley Choden as Runner Up in the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award for her relentless pursuit in helping rural communities along the treacherous roads of Bhutan achieve literacy, inspire the next generation of great thinkers and leaders within Bhutan and for helping empower women.
Ms. Melissa Clouser, “A Library for Magarao Central School, Philippines”
A U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Melissa made it her mission to provide books to the 1,400 primary school students in Magarao, where over 98% had no children’s books in the home and only 2 out of 40 teachers had non-text reading materials in their classrooms. Now, all 1,400 children and their teachers have access to over 4,000 thanks to Melissa.
Though many Peace Corps volunteers create libraries for their schools, Melissa Clouser made her project one-of-a-kind by including exemplary extracurricular and summer remedial reading programs, incorporating a variety of media to improve her students’ reading capabilities, creating a school-wide campaign to promote a culture of reading and designing a computer based inventory system.
Melissa partnered with the local university librarians to help sustain the library. She also trained 40 teachers in best practices to utilize the reading materials in their everyday lessons and inspire literacy in their students once she left her position. Her work was recognized by the local Department of Education who declared her library and literacy program would serve as the model for all schools in the region.
Melissa Clouser, “global citizen,” is recognized as a Runner-Up in the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award for her vision and innovation in literacy which inspired a community.
Ms. Janice Komisor, “Family Literacy Program” with ProJeCt of Easton”
Janice Komisor has devoted her professional life to helping “disempowered” learners move from the margins of society to the mainstream. At ProJeCt of Easton, which serves 5,000 individuals a year, Janice established the Lehigh Valley’s first program to address the language and literacy development of at-risk children and their parents.
Many literacy programs focus either on young children or adults; Janice and the “Family Literacy Program” at ProJeCt of Easton works with whole families to break the intergenerational cycle of low literacy. By advancing parents’ literacy skills through evidence-based methods, “Family Literacy Program” allows parents to be the first and most important agent and teacher for their children.
We recognize Janice Komisor as a Runner-Up in the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award for her leadership in literacy education and her devotion to helping “disempowered” learners move from the margins of society to the mainstream.
Mr. Quintin Jose Pastrana, “Library Renewal Partnership”
Quintin’s view of literacy, framed while a student at Georgetown, Cambridge and Oxford, is that it is a fundamental tool for citizen empowerment, which in turn, is the cornerstone for democracy and sustainable development.
The goal of “Library Renewal Partnership,” founded in 2010, is to empower over 2 million citizens in the Philippines by helping build at least 200 community education centers by 2020. So far, Quintin has established 75 libraries in underserved communities across the Philippines, where he believes that public libraries are positioned to serve as strategic hubs for citizen empowerment at the community level.
What makes his initiative unique is his model, derived from research, that enables any citizen to initiate, develop and sustain pubic libraries in his or her community. In one of the villages impacted by their libraries, the program reports that literacy rates have improved from 10% to 53% and dropout rates have reduced from 70% to 20%. His libraries can be found in farms, hospitals, and prisons to read more marginalized sectors of society.
Quintin Jose Pastrana is recognized as a Runner Up in the 2015 Freedom Through Literacy Award for developing a coalition of literacy partners to drive the leading and fastest growing literacy program in the Philippines.
In her capacity as Coordinator of the Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program at Casa Guadalupe in Allentown, Dawn is a change-agent in the community, explaining to parents why it is important to read aloud to children under the age of five. Dawn distributes more than 500 baby books each month to new families because she is passionate about helping WIC’s clients — 100% of whom have income levels below the federal poverty line — break the cycle of poverty through early literacy.
Mr. Arif Darmawan, “The World is Just a Book Away”
Arif is credited with helping promote literacy and education by developing 55 libraries with more than 42,000 books and programs that plant the seeds of leadership, environmental consciousness and community connection in East Java, Indonesia through the organization The World is Just a Book Away. These libraries impact 28,000 Indonesian schoolchildren. He is guided by the concept that you must empower children to change their own lives and communities through books and that education breaks the cycle of poverty, gives hope for a better future and promotes peace around the world.
Ms. Janet McIlhenny, “Lehigh Valley Head Trauma Support Book Group”
A brain trauma patient herself, Janet had to relearn how to walk, dress herself and read again. She was told that she may never read more than one word at a time, but she wasn’t ready to give up. Teaching herself to read became her main focus and books became her best friend. In 2013, Janet started the Lehigh Valley Head Trauma Book Group. Members say that attending the monthly meetings has changed their outlook on life — there is more interaction, more eye contact, more talking and most importantly, people are smiling. She says the family members are seeing a spark of the “old” husband/wife/friend and that this is more exciting than her years of teaching public school or college. Through these books, she is watching lives change.
Tiffany Mosqueda, “Harkins House Group Reading”
Tiffany is credited with revitalizing Harkins House school program, taking it from a standard credit recovery program to a fully integrated classroom by establishing a library and book club for adjudicated at-risk youth at Harkins House, a juvenile residential shelter in Oregon. She made reading fun for these youth, who commonly see school in a negative light and a place filled with people who have given up on them. Tiffany created the book club to give these young people an opportunity to discuss books of their choosing and issues reflecting aspects of their lives. These discussions allowed them to consider other ways they might have handled a difficult situation. Tiffany firmly believes that books change lives.
In a SKYPE call with Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization based in Bethlehem last night, Capt. Christopher G. Neeley, US Army, told the assembled group of 16 community volunteers that the children’s books sent by Judith’s Reading Room “Boxers” to Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, between 2010 and 2014 had “saved lives.”
Capt. Neeley, now stateside, told us that while he served as Public Affairs Officer, “the Camp suffered mortar shellings and bombings. When the boxes of children’s books arrived and the troops decided to hand deliver them to village elders, the shellings and bombings STOPPED.”
He said “the Afghan children had never before seen a book” and added that “it did not matter that the children could not understand English: pictures in the storybooks helped parents ‘read’ to their children.”
The more than 4,000 adult books the organization sent during the same time period, and which created the first-ever war-zone library in Afghanistan called the Judith F. Krug Memorial Library, were basically the only “entertainment” the troops enjoyed.
All together, the organization shipped more than 8,000 books to Afghanistan before the base was closed in June, 2014.
Judith’s Reading Room was founded in April 2010 in memory of Judy Krug, cousin to the founders, and an influential librarian whose life work was focused on defending the First Amendment. The organization has established 86 libraries around the world in 13 countries, seven states including on board an aircraft carrier. The organization has shipped over 106,000 books valued at more than $1,073,000.
Judith’s Reading Room announces the opening of its 75th library since its inception four years ago. Local Marine Zachary Oberdorfer confirmed receipt of nine boxes of books sent earlier this month that were packed by volunteers at the April 7th Boxing Party held at the organization’s headquarters in Bethlehem, PA. Zachary said that “he and his bunk mates had set up a library and every book has been lent out.” The shipment included 106 books valued at $1,974.
The USS BATAAN (LDH 5) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship named to honor the defense of the Bataan Peninsula on the western side of Manila Bay in the Philippines during the early days of US involvement in WW II. It is based out of Norfolk, VA. The mission of BATAAN is to enable the Navy and Marine Corps team to accomplish a seamless transition from the sea to the land battle, as the lead ship and centerpiece of an Amphibious Readiness Group. Its flight deck and well deck also make it the ideal platform for non-combatant evacuation and disaster relief operations.
Zachary’s mother, Linda, said she had heard from her son this morning (first time in a few weeks). She conveyed the message that the Marines and Sailors are “so grateful for the books and the good thoughts” in the hand-written letters by Judith’s Reading Room Boxers. “The USS BATAAN, its Marines and Sailors thank all of you,” Zachary added.
Judith’s Reading Room has opened 75 libraries in 11 countries, six states and has donated more than 82,000 books valued at nearly $825,000.
Children’s library on board the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77)
Over the last three years Judith’s Reading Room has donated two libraries aboard the USS GEORGE H.W. Bush (CVN 77) aircraft carrier. This has been an ongoing effort and a primary focus of Judith’s Reading Room’s Holiday Book Drives in 2012 and 2013.
The first library, for the Sailors, was established in March of 2011. Since then, shipments are made monthly, in honor of Charles A. Horne, Jr., a WWII naval hero and uncle of the Co-Founders to this aircraft carrier, home to 4,500 Sailors.
In July of 2012 the co-founders were extended a tour around the carrier which included the library the book Judith’s Reading Room sends. It was then that they came to understand that Sailors are invited to read children’s books on tape and then tapes are sent to the families.
The donation in December 2012 of a children’s library on board the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77) aircraft carrier was announced. This second library Judith’s Reading Room provides Sailors more opportunities to stay connected with their children while serving overseas for long periods of time. The Sailors read to their children when the Skype home! In 2013, George H. W. Bush started up a new campaign with United Through Reading (UTR).
Oct 1, 2013
What you and your team do is such a wonderful gesture and the crew
of the George H. W. Bush is very grateful. We will be starting up a new
campaign with the UTR (united through reading) this month this will
generate lots of use of the books…
We are very excited about getting more books this increases the
variety of books available to the crew, also be apart of family life
even when we’re deployed. Thank you very much for what you’ve done for
our crew it really makes a difference. You can count on me to support
Judith’s Reading Room it’s plays a huge role in the everyday life of
crew and the Dorothy Bush Koch library…
The Bethlehem Area School District’s Board of School Directors recently approved Judith’s Reading Room as part of BASD’s community service program.
Community Service provides an opportunity for students to acquire life skills, develop leadership skills, and explore career choices. Beginning in 1990, the Bethlehem Area School District instituted a revised curriculum that included approved community service for all students. Students receive credit upon completion of the required hours and may be considered for awards and honors. A special recognition, a silver cord, is presented to graduates with 135 hours for their distinguished service. More and more colleges are recognizing community service activities. Some offer scholarship opportunities for service.
Doris Leiber is named March Volunteer of the Month. Doris, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, was Judith F. Krug’s aunt and mother of co-founder Scott Leiber. Every year when she visits the Leiber clan she volunteers at Judith’s Reading Room. In April, 2013, Judith’s Reading Room honored Doris by agreeing to ship 50 new and gently-read children’s books every other month to the Canandaigua, New York VA hospital. The hospital reached out to the organization because they said they were seeing many young vets with children, who had nothing to read in the waiting rooms. Dedicating these shipments to Canandaigua was a natural because Doris is a native New Yorker, a veteran of WW II and a mother of five! Doris, a member of the Greatest Generation and Navy veteran, WWII, where she served as a WAVE based in the Bay Area, will turn 91 in August. Thank you, Doris, for your service to our country and to Judith’s Reading Room!
Judith’s Reading Room is pleased to announce that they have been awarded a $5000 grant from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. This grant specifically supports Judith’s Reading Room’s Birth-2-Five Program. The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation promotes philanthropy in order to improve the quality of life in the region. The check will be presented by Lehigh Valley Community Foundation at Judith’s Reading Room’s Annual Board meeting.
The Birth-2-Five Program provides literacy outreach to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs in the Lehigh Valley, PA. The partnership with WIC reaches children from birth to 5 years of age who
come from families of inter-generational poverty,
are not registered in traditional learning programs, and
do not have ready access to books,
which causes them to start school not ready to learn.
To address these educational gaps, we build each child’s first home library and supply bi-lingual read-aloud educational materials that proactively engage parents.
Since its inception in February 2013, the Birth-2-Five Program has reached over 5,000 children in the Lehigh Valley. Over 5,000 Parent’s Pledges, a vow to read aloud for twenty minutes daily, have been collected and 8,138 books have been distributed to children at the WIC offices.
For more information on the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, please visit them atwww.lvcfoundation.org.