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Libraries dedicated in Cambodia for “Scavenger Children”

On Sunday, April 14, Robert Lucas returned to his ancestral home in Cambodia with two boxes full of children’s books, the latest donations from Judith’s Reading Room.

On Saturday, May 4, Judith’s Reading Room dedicated two libraries in Cambodia. The first library of 76 children’s books in English was dedicated in collaboration with A New Day Cambodia, a nonprofit in Phnom Penh that provides food, shelter and education to more than 100 scavenger children either abandoned or forced to pick trash to help support their families. At A New Day Cambodia, children are taught English to increase their opportunities for securing a job, particularly in the tourist industry.

The second library was inaugurated at Anjali House, located near Angkor Wat, home to the famous Buddhist pagoda in Siem Reap. Anjali House serves 110 children between the ages of 4-18, who come from families so poor they are forced to beg on the streets. Anjali House will receive a custom collection of 87 books ranging in topics from photography to football to science.

The books, 163 in all and written in English, include titles such as Green Eggs and Ham, If You Give a Pig a Pancake and A-Z Picture Dictionary, were given to these two organizations that rescue children from the streets and garbage dumps of one of the poorest countries in the world.

Cathy Leiber, cofounder of Judith’s Reading Room met Lucas during a trip to Los Angeles last year where he was working at The World is Just a Book Away. She was looking to expand the organization’s presence in Asia and Lucas offered to personally deliver the books this month when he moves home to care for his grandfather.

“Growing and expanding international collaborations based upon common goals to foster an appreciation of books, and the pleasure of reading, has the potential to create a positive impression of Americans in Cambodia and promote world peace ,” says Leiber.

Boxing Party #38 – Volunteers Pack 1,158 Books

Photo: Boxing Party #38! Tonight we have a new location we are boxing for: Steadfast House, a home for homeless female veterans and their children to go when they return to civilian life.On Monday night, 20 volunteer Boxers poured into Judith’s Reading Room to select books the troops at our 38th consecutive Boxing Party.  Half of the group decided to pick books for homeless female vets and their children who visit a shelter in Asheville, NC because we all felt the sting of their situation. We learned that each night, there are more than 80,000 vets without a home. Each night. Seven percent are females. Do the math – it’ll break your heart.

At this 38th consecutive monthly party boxing books for the troops, we also shipped 500 books to VA hospitals in NY, NJ and PA, to troops and children they serve in Kabul, Afghanistan, to Sailors on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, to Marines in Guam, Japan and the Philippines. We also shipped 269 children’s books to a Peace Corps volunteer, who teaches at Schlip Elementary School in Rehoboth, NAMIBIA.

All in all, 20 Boxers packed up 1,158 books at a cover price value of $10,534! What a huge gift to our troops, thanks to our band of volunteers.

Cathy Leiber is Recipient of CARE’s 2013 Celebrate Literacy Award

Cathy Leiber, who was named award recipient “for exemplary service in the promotion of literacy” accepted the 2013 Celebrate Literacy Award on behalf of Judith’s Reading Room. Judith’s Reading Room was presented with a check and 24 new books inscribed: “This book is a gift from the Colonial Association of Reading Educators — CARE — to Judith’s Reading Room 2013.”

Celebrate Literacy Award Dinner at Cedar Crest College May 1, 2013

May 1st’s Celebrate Literacy Award dinner at Cedar Crest College. (L to R: Scott Leiber, Ana Luhrs, Linda Wellstein, Cathy Leiber, Daniel Leiber — all of whom are Board of Director members of Judith’s Reading Room — Toni Hoffman, Co-President AAUW Easton, and Kathy Sagl, President, Colonial Association of Reading Educators (CARE).

The purpose of this award is to identify and recognize local individuals, agencies or institutions that have made significant contributions to literacy. Recipients have shown exemplary accomplishments in areas such as direct teaching at any grade level, organizing local literacy programs, conducting research in fields related to literacy and providing young people and adults the opportunity to grow through literacy endeavors.

World Book Day Dedication Expands Costa Rica’s Academia Teocali’s Library by 800%

Judith’s Reading Room Establishes Presence in Central America Thirty years ago, Costa Rica’s Guanacastean people, who wanted their children to have private bilingual education had to send them four hours away to Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. Today, in celebration of World Book Day, that is not an issue, thanks to concerned parents who built a school now ranked in the top 30 in Latin America’s oldest democracy.

Like many schools around the world, it is hard enough to acquire children’s books in the local language; it is nearly impossible to secure children’s books in English. To date, Judith’s Reading Room has stepped in to fill that gap in six countries outside the U.S. including Afghanistan, Albania, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and now Costa Rica.

Judith’s Reading Room was approached by an American teacher at Academia Teocali, Deirdre Limoges, a native of New Jersey, who requested a custom collection of children’s books in English to support the efforts of Teocali’s English program. “Promoting literacy and the love of reading is one of our most significant goals,” said Patricia Soto, English Coordinator. “Academia Teocali’s academic standards are high and steadfast and our English program is greatly ambitious,” she added.

Ms. Limoges informed Judith’s Reading Room that the existing library contained just 20 English language children’s books. This donation will impact 150 students, all of whom are viewed as Costa Rica’s future leaders. During her recent home visit, Ms. Limoges visited Judith’s Reading Room and personally hand-picked 182 books with a cover price value of $1,337 that she understood to be ideal for the students. She brought them back to Costa Rica in her luggage and thus increased the size of the school’s English language library by 800%.

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

Website: www.aun.edu.ng

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.”

HCLV-WIC-Book-Cart

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.

Marijke

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

Marijke Philipsen
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble

Thanks Marijke!