Judith’s Reading Room Award Season Kicks Off Early

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room Award Season Kicks Off Early
Announces New Schedule for its Freedom Through Literacy Award

November 1, 2022 — Judith’s Reading Room today announced a schedule change in its coveted global literacy award season.  Applications are available beginning November 1st, 2022 at www.judithsreadingroom.org for the 2023 Freedom Through Literacy Award. Deadline for submissions is February 1, 2023.

“We accelerated the calendar and placed the Freedom Through Literacy Award in the first quarter in order to make room later in the year for promoting our two newest awards, The Founders’ Award and The Literacy Chair Award, both inaugurated in 2022,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room. Details of all awards may be found at www.judithsreadingroom.org .

The annual Freedom Through Literacy Award recognizes the achievements of teachers, librarians, authors, booksellers, 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 $5,000 Freedom Through Literacy Award was inaugurated in 2015 to pay tribute to those on the front line of literacy. The 2023 Awards include $2,500 for the Grand Prize Winner and $1,500 for the Judith’s Award Winner. And, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, up to four applicants may share a Board Option Prize totaling $1,000.

To date, Judith’s Reading Room has awarded $48,500 to 47 individual winners (some have won twice) in 14 countries. The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. That mission has been fulfilled by establishing 103 libraries (& counting!) in 22 countries with nearly 132,000 books donated worth over $1.42 million dollars.

 

Judith’s Reading Room Opens 104th Library

NEWS RELEASE

CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room Opens 104th Library in West Africa’s Ivory Coast
Commitment to global literacy fuels the PA literacy nonprofit organization

October 31, 2022 — Judith’s Reading Room, a literacy nonprofit founded in 2010, based in eastern Pennsylvania, announced today that it has established its 104th Judith’s Reading Room Library in its 23rd country: the Ivory Coast, West Africa.

For a decade, Judith’s Reading Room has responded to the “cry for help” from Peace Corps volunteers, Universities and literacy nonprofits in their quest to obtain books in English to achieve their assigned mission: get books into classrooms in Africa.

In fact, the organization has dedicated nine libraries in six African nations including Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and today the Ivory Coast. Since 2012, more than 100,000 children across Africa have benefitted from learning English through books donated by Judith’s Reading Room.

The 104th Judith’s Reading Room library is dedicated in collaboration with the Ivory Coast nonprofit Education & English For You, and its CEO and founder, Toti Jean-Marc Yale, a Judith’s Reading Room 2022 Freedom Through Literacy ‘Honorable Mention’ Award winner. His program promotes early childhood education, gender equality and English on a voluntary basis.

“The Little Red Hen, Boy and the Donkey, The Rabbit and the Turtle, are among 150 titles hand-picked by Yale’s organization to serve as a springboard for the promotion of English literacy in this French speaking West African country,” said Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.

“On behalf of all kids from our community, Anono, and our organization, Education and English for You, we say a Big Thanks for the donation of 150 English books for our library,” said Yale. He added, “Judith’s Reading Room remains from today, a springboard for our community students because of this great privilege to discover, read, travel, learn, acquire new knowledge through the diverse books we received. This is why Judith’s Reading Room is the source of happiness for all kids of this world, thanks to the support of the books they distribute each year.”


Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association for 40 years. The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy. We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 104 libraries (and counting!) in 23 countries with 132,000 books worth $1,421,000.

The Freedom Through Literacy Award, established in 2015 honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations, educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading. To date, the organization has disbursed $48,500 in cash awards to 47 individual champions of literacy. Winners hail from 14 countries, including nine states in the United States. Applications for the 2023 Freedom Through Literacy Award are available at www.judithsreadingroom.org <https://www.judithsreadingroom.org/> beginning November 1, 2022.

The Founders’ Award, inaugurated in September 2022, is a cash prize at the discretion of Judith’s Reading Room co-founders, Scott and Cathy Leiber, 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 are the recipients of the 2022 Award, each winning a cash prize of $1,000.

The Literacy Chair Award, inaugurated in October 2022, is in honor of a champion of literacy nominated by a Judith’s Reading Room member of the Board of Directors. Dr. Lisette Caesar, founder and past-principal of Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem, NY is the recipient of the 2022 Literacy Chair Award.

The organization chose Storytime Crafts, a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts to create the inaugural chair. Storytime creates beautifully crafted decoupage chairs, based on children’s books selected by their clients. The Snowy Day was Dr. Lisette Caesar’s favorite childhood book. The chair illustrates the power of literacy through art and is meant to inspire reluctant readers to explore a different way of reading a book. Dr. Liz’s chair has been permanently placed in the Mosaic Preparatory Academy school library.



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Judith’s Reading Room Inaugurates its Literacy Chair Award

NEWS RELEASE
CONTACT: Cathy Leiber
www.JudithsReadingRoom.org

Judith’s Reading Room Inaugurates its Literacy Chair Award

New York’s Dr. Lisette Caesar, past principal Mosaic Preparatory Academy, Recipient

October 3, 2022.  New York, New York — Judith’s Reading Room, a literacy nonprofit founded in 2010 in the memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian, dedicated an original piece of art — a decoupaged chair — of the Ezra Jack Keats famous The Snowy Day in honor of Dr. Lisette Caesar, founder and past principal of Mosaic Preparatory Academy, East Harlem, NY.  Dr. Caesar retired in June 2022.  It illustrates the power of literacy through art.

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.

“In recognition of her incessant and energetic focus to engage children in reading, Judith’s Reading Room names Dr. Lisette Caesar its first Literacy Chair Award recipient,” announced Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room.   Dr. Caesar’s favorite childhood book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is the theme of the chair which is meant to spread the joy of reading.

As principal and founder of a Title 1 school, with a large population of students living in temporary housing, Dr. Caesar set as a goal to put 100 books into the hands of each of her scholars.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, she installed a Free Little Library so that the entire community could have books while the school was shutdown.  Her innovative Book Vending Machine, which rewards good behavior, has succeeded in increasing reading motivation and has been shared with several New York City schools.

For her lifetime of work centered on literacy, Caesar has been honored twice by Judith’s Reading Room.  First, in 2021, she was named its Freedom Through Literacy Award ‘Honorable Mention’ and this year she won a Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Award for her Book Vending Machine.

The Snowy Day chair was dedicated October 3rd

The Snowy Day chair was dedicated October 3rd in honor of Dr. Lisette Caesar, past principal of Mosaic Preparatory Academy, seated.  Standing (L) Ms. Ariel Birdoff, Librarian and (R) Cathy Leiber, President, Judith’s Reading Room

When asked who she thought should get the honor of sitting in The Snowy Day chair,? Dr. Caesar instantly replied, “each month, the child who read the most books or the one who made the most significant progress in reading during the previous month.”

Joining in the dedication celebration, Caesar was surrounded by the 2022 Kindergarten classes, their teachers and librarians, Ms. Daliz Vasquez, interim principal, Ty Allan Jackson, author, Dr. Kristy DeLa Cruz, Superintendent, School District 4 and Stephanie Herrera, Bronx Outreach Coordinator from Hon. Diana Ayala’s New York City Council 8th Council District.

Judith’s Reading Room

Judith’s Reading Room was founded in 2010 in the memory of the founders’ first cousin, Judith F. Krug, who served as Director of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association for 40 years.  The organization’s mission is to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy.  We have fulfilled that mission by establishing 103 libraries (and counting!) in 22 countries with nearly 132,000 books worth $1,420,000.

The Freedom Through Literacy Award, now in its 8th year, honors individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, nonprofit literacy organizations, educators — anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.  To date, the organization has disbursed $48,500 in cash awards to 47 champions of literacy.  Winners hail from 14 countries, including nine states in the United States.  Applications for the 2023 Freedom Through Literacy Award will be posted on www.judithsreadingroom.org beginning November 1, 2022.

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 are the recipients of the 2022 Award, each winning a cash prize 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 beautifully crafted decoupage story-themed chair, from Storytime Crafts, a charitable nonprofit organization in Needham, Massachusetts.  Judith’s Reading Room selected Storytime’s chair for its Literacy Chair Award because it illustrates the power of literacy through art.  Dr. Lisette Caesar is named recipient of the inaugural 2022 Literacy Chair Award.

 

GRAND PRIZE – 2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Grand Prize Award – $2,500

Fayola Fair – “Reading for Black Lives Project”
JAMAICA, QUEENS, NEW YORK

“Literacy is an essential aspect of social change and liberation.” So declares 24-year-old Fayola Fair, educator, community organizer, and our 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Grand Prize Winner.

Fair’s “Reading for Black Lives Project” aims to promote this belief by providing sustainable access to free books and literacy resources by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) for their communities in and outside New York City. Her efforts include organizing pop-up book fairs to funding books by Black authors to hosting an annual Free Book Fair in Queens. An essential element running through them all is access, relevance, and inclusion for communities who historically have not seen their lives and stories represented in books.
 
The “Reading Through Black Lives Project” has already distributed over 1,000 books and supported over 26 Black-owned bookstores, even earning a 2021 NYC Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Community Service. We are honored to contribute to Fair’s tireless commitment to her community with the 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Grand Prize.
 

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue providing free books and literary resources to my community. Receiving the Grand Prize for the 2022 Freedom through Literacy Award allows me to expand this work and continue to reimagine the impact of the Reading for Black Lives Project on BIPOC communities across NYC and beyond. Overall, working to support our learning to sustain our liberation.”         Fayola Fair

Board Option Award-Dr. Lisette Caesar-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $200

Dr. Lisette Caesar – “Book Vending Machine”
EAST HARLEM, NEW YORK

A Judith’s Reading Room Honorable Mention awardee in 2021, Lisette Caesar is recognized with a Board Option Award for her unrelenting optimism and passion to build a reading culture during her tenure as principal at Mosaic Prep Academy. Her newsworthy project, “Book Vending Machine,” capitalizes on a reward system to honor good citizenship with tokens that are used to “purchase” a new book, much like one would purchase a candy bar out of a vending machine. Her incredible and inspiring project has been shared with at least five other principals and we are sure to see its impact grow.

Board Option Award-Lisa Tedeschi Vergara-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $200

Lisa Tedeschi Vergara – “Literacy Through Art of the Book”
NEEDHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

Walk into a place that Lisa Tedeschi Vergara’s work has touched, and you’ll understand why we  have given her a Board Option Award. Her beautifully crafted decoupage book-themed chairs, commissioned for public spaces, give children the chance to “read” the story emblazoned on the chair while they crawl around and sit on it. Nearly 40 chairs have brought joy to communities across the state of Massachusetts, and we celebrate Vergara’s unique spin on promoting literacy.
“It is an honor to be named a 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Award winner. Through my literacy work I am able to provide learning lifelines and resources to children and families who need them the most. The grassroots nature of my work generates dependable and adaptable services for community advancement.”
– Lisa Tedeschi Vergara

Board Option Award-Jennifer Williams-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $200

Jennifer Williams – “Second Chance Book Club”
DANVILLE, VIRGINIA

Back in 2019, Jennifer Williams founded the Second Chance Book Club with the goal of spreading the love of reading and getting books into the hands of people in need; in this case, incarcerated women at the Danville City Jail. Since starting the book club, 128 inmates have read and discussed 75 books as of August 2022. We recognize Williams’ selfless determination and outreach to provide these inmates insight into another world of hope and beauty with a 2022 Board Option Award.
“Giving books away has brought great joy. Watching a reader choose something appealing is a happy moment that very little compares to in my life.”
– Jennifer Williams

 

Board Option Award-Pamela Laskin-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $200

Pamela Laskin – “Poetry at the Border”
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

Pamela Laskin, a lecturer at City College, established “Poetry at the Border” to encourage children whose families are seeking asylum to write poetry about their experiences. Poetry enables children to understand trauma following horrible events like hurricanes (Puerto Rico), children who are escaping atrocities (Honduras, Nicaragua and Myanmar), and children who are surviving life while housed in camps at the border. For her work to enable children to unload their grief and to empower voices through poetry, we honor Laskin with a 2022 Board Option Award.

 

“Your silence will not protect you.”; Audre Lorde. “Thank you, Cathy Leiber, on behalf of Judith’s Room, and also thank you to the board for awarding me the Board Option award for my work engaging children, at the border and the Ukraine, in the art and craft of writing poetry. This significant literacy work will help give poetic voice to children in refugee camps and children in the Ukraine (a war-torn country). Poetry Outreach is grateful to expand literacy and also hope-through poetry–to children facing these challenges.”
Pamela Laskin

Board Option Award-Lisa Gerard-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Board Option Award – $200

Lisa Gerard – “Little Read Wagon”
NORMAN, OKLAHOMA

No matter where you look in Norman, Oklahoma, you’re likely to find Lisa Gerard and her Little Read Wagon. Gerard has offered free books at community free events, establishes “libraries” in laundromats and hides books in 65 public parks. For her efforts, we name Lisa as a Board Option Award winner to celebrate her work towards building Norman into a reading community.
“This year, Little Read Wagon adopted the hashtag #communitythroughbooks. This is a perfect description of our work in three words. It is the connections we make with people when we share books and stories with them that fuel our work with literacy. Winning a Board Option Award from Judith’s Reading Room for the second year in a row increases our visibility in the community, gets more books to kids and inspires us by making us aware of other winning literacy projects around the world.”
– Lisa Gerard

Honorable Mentions-2022 Freedom Through Literacy

Finally, Honorable Mention Awards (no cash award) are given to those applicants who the judges want to acknowledge and think deserve encouragement.  The idea behind the Honorable Mention Awards is to propel the applicants to continue their literacy efforts and to apply for future Freedom Through Literacy Awards.

Toti Jean Marc Yale – “Reading First”
ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST

For Yale’s outreach to help eradicate illiteracy in his West African nation, we wish to give him global recognition and encouragement through an Honorable Mention.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Lacking basic reading and writing skills is a tremendous disadvantage. Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, but it creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves and their family. Thank you very much, Judith’s Reading Room, for the good job you are doing across the world that is transforming the life of many kids through their reading skill development.”
– Toti Jean Marc Yale

Children’s Home of Easton – “Book Club for At-Risk Youth”
EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA

We honor Marlene Arnholt with an Honorable Mention for maintaining Children’s Home of Easton’s selection of over 4,000 books and a monthly Book Club that help make a “home” for traumatized youth.
“Providing a love match between readers and books has been my preoccupation and passion since my involvement with the residents at The Children’s Home of Easton began many years ago. Our basic premise is simple: make books of different genres, subjects and popularity easily accessible to every resident and make certain they know there are many more books than are actually displayed. Then, find a way to build on those interests through introductions to like-minded readers. At that point … the sky is truly the limit!”          …Marlene Arnholt
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