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.

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.’

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96th Library-Mexico joins 18 other countries

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Judith’s Reading Room Expands Globally with       Announcement of its 96th Library

Mexico joins 18 other countries to open a Judith’s Reading Room Library

April 16, 2018 — Lehigh Valley, Pa.  Judith’s Reading Room, a non-profit organization founded in 2010 to enrich lives and societies by proactively encouraging freedom through literacy announced today the opening of its 96th library in its 19th country with The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, Mexico. 
The Palapa Society of Todos Santos is a non-profit whose mission is to create prepared 21st Century learners.  The organization was a 2017 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award winner and received a check in the amount of $500.  With that, they purchased approximately 50 children’s books in English and Spanish including BFG by Roald Dahl and Frida by Jonah Winter.   
The effort to teach English at the Biblioteca Infantil (Children’s Library) is to counter the low level of household literacy and reading habits in the Todos Santos community.  Compounding the problem is that local public schools do not have libraries nor do the classrooms contain books outside of textbooks.  The Palapa Society aims to change all that through the collaboration with Judith’s Reading Room.  Joy O’Brien, Program Director of The Palapa Children’s Library said “ the 162 ‘library enthusiasts’ were waiting to get their hands on the new books donated by Judith’s Reading Room. “ 
The 2018 Judith’s Reading Room Freedom Through Literacy Award application process is underway.  The 2018 Award will grant $4,500 in prizes.  The deadline to apply at www.JudithsReadingRoom.org/APPLY is July 6, 2018.  Since its inception, Judith’s Reading Room has dedicated 96 libraries in 19 countries with 127,679 books worth nearly $1.4 million dollars.  The Freedom Through Literacy Award has disbursed $24,500 and has honored 19 individual champions of literacy in the United States, the Philippines, Bhutan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Cambodia and Mexico. 

The Palapa Society of Todos Santos

Por fin or finally as we say in English! Here is a foto of a few of our 162 “card-carrying” library enthusiasts waiting eagerly to get their hands on the new books donated by Judith’s Reading Room. Just as there are only a very few of the kids in the foto, it is also only a portion of the books that were purchased with your generous donation. The others flew off the shelves before the foto could be made. Not a day goes by that one of the books that Judith’s Reading Room purchased is not being checked out for the enjoyment of our kids. We can’t thank you enough….
Joy O’Brien, Program Director of the Palapa Children’s Library (Biblioteca Infantil), Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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