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1. A Library Full of Books & Happiness

PAShawLibrary

“Will they still be here tomorrow?” students often ask Morgan VanClief, the librarian at P.A. Shaw Elementary School in Dorchester, MA.

They’re asking about the brand new books that Morgan has been able to bring to the school’s library through generous grants and access to the First Book Marketplace. Many of her students simply aren’t used to having resources available to them on a consistent basis, so they get nervous that the fun and exciting books they see today might not be there tomorrow.

Thanks to Morgan and funding partners like KPMG, they can be confident that the books they love will be available to them day in, day out.

“I think it helps show them that they do deserve to have these resources at school, just like any other kid,” Morgan says.

In just two years as the school’s librarian, Morgan has turned the library into a vibrant and engaging place where students can explore their interests — but it hasn’t always been that way.

“It was literally just an empty room,” Morgan says of the library, “now we have shelves full of books, computers, and even a little theatre area.”

Students are becoming more comfortable using the library regularly and in turn, more comfortable at school. Just by coming to the library every day kids are opening up, advancing reading levels and most importantly, they’re happier.

“One student who was in kindergarten two years ago—he was very reserved, kind of withdrawn, almost sad at school,” Morgan says, “but after two years of constantly coming to the library, he enjoys school now and his family says he is happier at home too.”

For many students, questions about whether or not the books will be available have been replaced by other questions. Questions about a book’s characters, or the setting of their favorite story–questions that will help them learn and grow.

Morgan VanClief’s library was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with KPMG. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your classroom through the First Book Marketplace.

The post A Library Full of Books & Happiness appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. Active Bodies, Active Minds: Boost Wellness & Learning with Sports Equipment

kid with basketball

Experts say that one way to help your kids get a jump on learning is to help them, well, JUMP!  Boosting students’ physical activity not only supports health and wellness and makes kids feel better, but it turns out that it can help them learn better, too.

That’s why First Book is excited to announce a brand new addition to the First Book Marketplace lineup of resources:  sports and fitness equipment provided through Target.

“Whether it’s dribbling a basketball, playing softball, or maneuvering through an obstacle course, physical activity can improve academic achievement, boost cognitive skills and improve concentration and behavior for kids – both in and out of the classroom,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president and CEO.  “Thanks to Target, many more schools and programs serving kids in need will have the resources to encourage healthy activities that also foster learning.”

Through Target funding, First Book will now offer brand new softballs, soccer balls, bean bag toss games, playground balls and more on the First Book Marketplace.

If you’re a teacher serving children in need, you may be able to take advantage of special funding from Target that will provide credits that educators can use to access sports equipment from the First Book Marketplace site. So run – don’t walk – to find the sports and play equipment you need to support learning and wellness for the children you serve. 

The post Active Bodies, Active Minds: Boost Wellness & Learning with Sports Equipment appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. Use Guided Reading Levels to Find the Perfect Books on the First Book Marketplace

Book Relief high school girl readingUse Guided Reading Levels to find the perfect books for every child you serve. Thanks to the feedback from our community of educators, First Book Marketplace users can now utilize our Advanced Search tool to find books with Guided Reading Levels (GRLs). GRLs are great for both students and educators.

Here’s why: 
GRLs help educators:

  • Assess the fluency and reading level of each child
  • Track student progress over time
  • Organize school and classroom libraries so that educators and kids can access the best-fit books for every child

GRLs help students:

  • Find books at their level of confidence
  • Develop the skills they need to read increasingly challenging books
  • Discover books they will love to read again and again

Watch the short video tutorial below to learn more about how to the First Book Marketplace’s Advanced Search to find books by GRL:

If you’re an educator serving kids in need, click here to register to receive brand-new books for the children you serve for free or low cost.

The post Use Guided Reading Levels to Find the Perfect Books on the First Book Marketplace appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. Q&A with Author Jason Reynolds

Author Jason Reynolds’ books start the conversations about the difficult issues facing kids today. His experiences, as told through the characters in his stories, are very much like those of the children we serve – which is why we feel it’s so important for them to hear Jason’s voice.

We had the opportunity to talk with Jason about his experiences, his journey to becoming an author, and how he’s seen his books affect young readers.

 

Q. Were you an avid reader as a child?

A. Absolutely not. I actually didn’t read much at all, though I had books all around me. Most of them were classics. Canonical literature. But to a kid growing up in the midst of the hip-hop generation, a time where most young people of color were exposed to the hardships of drugs and violence, I gravitated more toward the storytelling of rap music, than I did the dense and seemingly disconnected narrative arc of books (during that time).

 

Q. What stories or poetry did you connect with as a young person? Did you have trouble connecting with stories as a child?

A. I had a really hard time connecting with stories as a child, especially within the confines of a book. But I was introduced to poetry by reading the lyrics of Queen Latifah, Tupac, Slick Rick, and lots of other rappers. From there, I started to make connections between their lyrics and the poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. But eventually I began reading more traditional narratives, the first being Black Boy, by Richard Wright. It changed my life.

 

Q. Are there books you’ve read today that you wish you’d been exposed to as a child or young adult?

A. All of Walter Dean Myers’s work. Also, I wish there would’ve been as much focus on graphic novels back then, as there is now. That would’ve been extremely valuable to me.

 

Q. We first met you as a writer through your poetry in My Name is Jason. Why did you make the transition into writing novels? And how is your process for writing poetry different than writing novels?

A. I never wanted to write novels, so you can blame Christopher Myers for that. He’s the one who challenged me to give it a shot. My plan was to be only a poet. But there was something in Walter Dean Myers’s stories — a permission to be myself on the page I hadn’t felt before. So I let myself be myself, let my language live freely on the page without the pretense and pressure of the academy or some phantom scholarship. And turns out, it worked! Now, the poetry was a big help mainly because as a poet I valued the importance of beginning and ending, which has lent itself to my work tremendously.

 

Q. You toured extensively with Brendan Kiely for All American Boys. Can you recount a few of the most powerful moments you had with students and/or with adults while on tour?

There were so many. One thing that was interesting was, everywhere we went we would ask the students the same two questions:all_american_boys
1.) How many of you know about police brutality? They’d all raise their hands. And,
2.) How many of you have spoken to your friends about it? Ninety percent of the hands went down.
We realized that kids knew about it but weren’t discussing it, but we also deduced that it wasn’t because they didn’t want to talk about it, but instead was because they didn’t have the framework or the safe space to do so. By the end of our presentation, everyone always had questions and comments, ready for the hard conversation. Some other interesting moments . . . We met a man in Cincinnati, a white man raising two black boys. He came over to us and explained that All American Boys had helped him understand what his sons might be facing outside of his home, and that he needed to be as open as possible and as emotionally and mentally equipped so that he could serve as not only their father, but as their ally. He even said reading the book helped him feel more whole. I also had a student come to me, a young black girl in Philly, who wanted to know if I ever wished I could change the color of my skin, just because she was afraid of the fear other people have of it. She was in the seventh grade, and in that moment I got to pour into her. Tell her that she was perfect the way she was. I have tons of these stories. Mexican kids in Texas who wondered what their role is. Wealthy white boys in Baltimore forming cultural sensitivity groups in their schools. Even recently watching a group of students perform the theatrical version of All American Boys in Brooklyn. Young people are ready to talk. And they’re ready to act. We (adults) just have to arm them.

 

Q. Do you see your teenage self in any of your novels? If so, which one(s) and in what ways?

A. I’m in all of them. Each and every one of them. I like to pull from actual stories from my teenage years, like Ali and the MoMo party in, When I Was The Greatest, or Matt Miller and his mother’s cancer in, The Boy in The Black Suit. I’m always the protagonist, at least parts of me. Writing is cathartic for me, and a way to process parts of my life that I’ve either worked hard to hold on to, or have desperately tried to forget.

 

Q. How important was it to have a co-author for Quinn’s voice in All American Boys?

A. It was paramount. The truth is, I might’ve been able to write a decent book, based around Rashad’s narrative, but what Brendan brings to the story with Quinn is, to me, the most important part of the story. It’s the part we don’t hear about, and the part most necessary to sit with and dissect when it comes to making change. It’s something I’m not sure I could’ve written with the same authenticity as Brendan, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner on that project.

 

Q. Why do you feel it’s important for kids of varied backgrounds to read the stories you write?

A. You know, I think about this often, and I think ultimately what I hope is that they read my books and feel cared for. Feel less alone. There’s an impenetrable power to simple acknowledgement.

 

Q.Why is it important for kids, especially kids from low-income communities, to have access to brand-new books?

 A. It’s important for kids from low-income communities to have brand-new anything. But if it could be a book, let alone a book that speaks directly to their experiences, then it’s a double-win.

 

Watch the video below for more insights from Jason:

Thanks to the support of Jason Reynolds’ publisher, Simon & Schuster, 20,000 of Reynolds’ young adult and middle grade titles will be distributed to children in need through First Book.

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5. Sneak Peek: Resources For Social & Emotional Development

kids with disney books_web

Books are not only a great resource for developing reading skills, they are also a fantastic way to help kids develop healthy feelings and relationships. In the coming weeks, the First Book Marketplace will feature a collection of hand-picked books that address key aspects of social and emotional development.

In addition to the books, First Book has partnered with Molina Healthcare to provide helpful resources that teachers and parents can use to tie these engaging stories to healthy living. Teaching kids how to interact with others and manage their own emotions is an essential part of their development, just as important as their intellectual or physical development. These carefully curated books and resources are designed to do just that.

Here’s a sneak peek of the kinds of books and tips you can expect in the collection!

ICanHelpI Can Help by David Hyde Costello

A little duck gets lost until a helpful monkey comes along to lend a hand.

Brainstorm a number of situations that children may find themselves experiencing in which they need to ask for help. Next, identify who are the appropriate people in their family, school or community to ask for help in those situations. Examples could include calling 911 for firefighters in the case of a fire, talking with a teacher or parent for homework help, and visiting a doctor or school nurse if they are sick. This activity can be extended by role-playing. For example, one child can pretend to see a fire and call a firefighter for help. Then another group of children can pretend to be firefighters who come and put out the fire.

MyFriendMaggie

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison

Paula knows Maggie is a great friend, but when Veronica says mean things about Maggie, Paula doesn’t stand up for her.

Letter writing, even when one doesn’t plan to give the letter to the addressee, can be a great tool for processing feelings and thinking through how to handle a conflict. Have the children write a letter from one of this story’s characters to another (such as from Maggie to Paula), explaining how that character’s actions made her feel. Encourage students to try letter writing (even without giving the letters) when they face conflicts with their friends to help them express their feelings and think through how they would like the situation to be resolved.

For more books and resources from First Book and Molina Healthcare, please visit the health and wellness section on the First Book Marketplace.

The post Sneak Peek: Resources For Social & Emotional Development appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for August

Our favorite books this August are sure to capture imaginations with beautiful illustrations, unconventional characters, and fascinating true stories. Read on to see the titles that hooked our book experts this month!

For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):

arctic animals board book

Who’s That?: Arctic Animals (Board Book) by Tad Carpenter

We love all the vibrant and entertaining titles in the Who’s That? board book series – this one especially. Kids will love opening the sturdy flaps to meet creatures like a walrus and a polar bear. A cool read for a hot day!

For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

school's first day of school picture book School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex

It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school! What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? Find out what happens to the school on its first day! With charming illustrations, this delightful read-aloud picture book will have young readers reaching for it every day of the year!

 

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks

During the mid-twentieth century, Vivien Thomas overcame racism from his colleagues and developed a procedure that was used for the first successful open-heart surgery on a child. This is a fascinating biography of how one innovative doctor ushered in a new era of medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

For 5th & 6th grade (Ages 10-12):

dicamillo young adult bookRaymie Nightengale by Kate DiCamillo

Raymie Clarke is convinced that winning the 1975 Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest would inspire her father to come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. We couldn’t put down this coming-of-age novel as it beautifully explored the subjects of loneliness, loss, and friendship.

Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank

This novel-in-verse follows the unfolding friendship between two very different teenage girls who share a hospital room and an illness.

Chess, the narrator, is sick, but with what exactly, she isn’t sure. And to make matters worse, she must share a hospital room with Shannon, her polar opposite. How these teenagers become friends, helping each other come to terms with their illness, makes for a dramatic and deeply moving read.

 

 

 

 

 

The post Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books for August appeared first on First Book Blog.

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7. Sit, Stay, Read: Kids & Canines Learning Literacy Skills Together

Girl with dog

The canine volunteers at Sit, Stay, Read visit classrooms in some of Chicago’s most troubled neighborhoods. The elementary school students they meet often juggle more responsibilities than most kids their age, so learning to read can seem like an extra chore.

“If you feel stressed about reading, like some of our little guys do, reading to a dog makes them feel more comfortable, more ready, and more open to the experience of reading,” says Kate McIlvain, Program Director at Sit, Stay, Read.

That is why volunteer dogs like Tilly come to classrooms and listen to students read. The canine companions enjoy any book, but dog-themed titles like Go, Dog, Go or Because of Winn-Dixie are popular choices. Tilly is happy to give her undivided attention and doesn’t mind if her reading partner stumbles on a word or two. Experiencing that kind of support and unconditional love while they read helps kids build confidence in their own literacy skills.

Often they’re having so much fun interacting with their new furry friends that they forget they’re learning.

“We’re really excited that we get to bring our program into schools and provide additional support on top of what the teachers are already doing to help make a fun, safe, comfortable, caring learning environment for our kids,” says Kate.

When the school year ends, Sit, Stay, Read holds a “Keep Reading Celebration” at every school they visit. At the party, the kids receive books and school supplies to bring home to encourage them to continue building their literacy skills throughout the summer.

Boy with dog

This year, thanks to support from long-time First Book partner KPMG, Sit, Stay, Read was able to use the First Book Marketplace to increase the number of books that kids took home over summer break.

Unfortunately, the dogs can’t go home with the kids, too. But they will always remember their four-legged reading buddy and the excitement and the confidence-building they felt reading with them every time they pick up their books.

 

Sit, Stay, Read was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with KPMG & KPMG’s Family for Literacy – a unique employee engagement program featuring volunteer opportunities, book distributions, celebration events and fundraising efforts that provide books for First Book programs in KPMG communities. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your classroom through the First Book Marketplace.

The post Sit, Stay, Read: Kids & Canines Learning Literacy Skills Together appeared first on First Book Blog.

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8. Sit, Stay, Read: Kids & Canines Learning Literacy Skills Together

Girl with dog

The canine volunteers at Sit, Stay, Read visit classrooms in some of Chicago’s most troubled neighborhoods. The elementary school students they meet often juggle more responsibilities than most kids their age, so learning to read can seem like an extra chore.

“If you feel stressed about reading, like some of our little guys do, reading to a dog makes them feel more comfortable, more ready, and more open to the experience of reading,” says Kate McIlvain, Program Director at Sit, Stay, Read.

That is why volunteer dogs like Tilly come to classrooms and listen to students read. The canine companions enjoy any book, but dog-themed titles like Go, Dog, Go or Because of Winn-Dixie are popular choices. Tilly is happy to give her undivided attention and doesn’t mind if her reading partner stumbles on a word or two. Experiencing that kind of support and unconditional love while they read helps kids build confidence in their own literacy skills.

Often they’re having so much fun interacting with their new furry friends that they forget they’re learning.

“We’re really excited that we get to bring our program into schools and provide additional support on top of what the teachers are already doing to help make a fun, safe, comfortable, caring learning environment for our kids,” says Kate.

When the school year ends, Sit, Stay, Read holds a “Keep Reading Celebration” at every school they visit. At the party, the kids receive books and school supplies to bring home to encourage them to continue building their literacy skills throughout the summer.

Boy with dog

This year, thanks to support from long-time First Book partner KPMG, Sit, Stay, Read was able to use the First Book Marketplace to double the number of books that kids took home over summer break.

Unfortunately, the dogs can’t go home with the kids, too. But they will always remember their four-legged reading buddy and the excitement and the confidence-building they felt reading with them every time they pick up their books.

 

Sit, Stay, Read was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with KPMG & KPMG’s Family for Literacy – a unique employee engagement program featuring volunteer opportunities, book distributions, celebration events and fundraising efforts that provide books for First Book programs in KPMG communities. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your classroom through the First Book Marketplace.

The post Sit, Stay, Read: Kids & Canines Learning Literacy Skills Together appeared first on First Book Blog.

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9. Chromebooks Are Here!

It has always been First Book’s mission to provide access to new books for children in need.

When children today grow up they will depend not only on their reading skills, but also their skills with technology. That is why First Book is proud to offer new Chromebooks on its marketplace along with other great devices teachers can use to incorporate technology in their classrooms and lessons.

boy with laptop small image

There is no wrong way for a child to become a reader. Whether it’s through one imaginative picture book or the thousands of stories available online, when a child is able to access rich and varied content they improve their skills and flourish as readers.

These kinds of resources also offer children the opportunity to explore what fascinates them about their favorite books and stories, a chance they might not have otherwise. Many of the children First Book serves do not have consistent access to computers or the internet at home. By having Chromebooks or other devices in the classroom they can learn to do their own research to answer questions like, “how much do caterpillars really eat?” or “does the moon need to sleep?”

chromebook_j5_front_facing

In First Book’s quest to ensure that every child has access to high-quality books and resources, technology resources like Chromebooks and tablets are the next frontier.

Visit the Devices section on the First Book Marketplace to learn more about Chromebooks and discover all of First Book’s newest technology offerings. Don’t hesitate though, certain resources are only available while supplies last!

 

 

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10. Educators and Families: A Powerful Partnership

Estrella

Looking for ways to get families more involved with your classroom or program? Or for resources to send home with them? The First Book Marketplace is the place to go!

Visit us for great family read alouds, resource collections for kids ages 0-12 and tips to arm caregivers with the skills they need. When educators and families are on the same page and pulling in the same direction it gives kids the confidence they need to keep building skills.

 

The family book

Build Strong Families with Stories

The books in this section model habits that families can adopt to grow stronger together. Each title is paired with a FREE downloadable reading guide designed for parents and caregivers. It includes activities, discussion prompts, and key ideas to take away from the story.

Tools to Get Families Involved

First Book proudly partners with content experts to provide easy-to-use tools to help you engage with families around subjects like healthy living, developing early literacy skills and building strong character. Our Family Engagement section includes 12 unique categories of books paired with free downloadable tip sheets, many in both English and Spanish.

 

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11. Welcome Back to School

backtoschool

There are still a few weeks of summer left, but now is the time to find everything you need to build an enriching environment for the kids in your school, class or program. First Book’s Back to School Hub is your source for great books and resources that will help turn a successful first day of school into a successful school year.

The Back to School Hub includes:

  • School suppliesschools_first_day
  • Learning games and activities
  • Books celebrating diversity and inclusion
  • FREE ebooks and more!

The first day of school can be a little stressful for students, teachers, staff…and even the school itself! Help ease those first day jitters by reading the charming School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex with illustrations by Christian Robinson, available on the First Book Marketplace.

 

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12. One Campaign. A Lasting Culture of Reading.

Cottage Kids Read

Six years ago, Sue Resnick and Liz Frankel started the Cottage Kids Read program at the Pleasantville Cottage School. While volunteering at the school they noticed something that struck them. There weren’t any books for pleasure in the cottages where the students lived.

Located in Pleasantville, NY, the residential treatment facility serves kids who have been neglected, abused, or whose families are unable to care for them.

Sue and Liz knew books could be a solace for kids who may lack a source of calm in their daily lives. Reading stories or poems that interest them could open up new worlds. After they identified the issue, Sue and Liz went to the school’s Therapeutic Arts Director, Dee Hanbury, to find a solution.

Three years ago Dee, Sue and Liz discovered First Book campaigns. Since then, volunteers and staff have had great success raising the money they need to purchase books through First Book. They’ve used First Book campaigns to not only fill the cottages with books, but to expose kids to new ideas and help them dream big.

Now, when kids see Sue and Liz on campus, they ask for books by name. The kids have their favorite authors. Liz and Sue have created a culture of reading that not only helps kids grow, but has therapeutic benefits as some work through complex emotional challenges.

“They say that reading gives them an escape when they need to get away from bad memories or from their peers to get some space,” says Dee.

The volunteers and staff see the impact books have on kids’ lives — it’s why they work tirelessly to raise more money each year. And with First Book campaigns, their work can go even further.

Start your work today.

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13. Take Your Imagination On Vacation

imagination on vacation

Children don’t need planes, trains and automobiles to be transported to different countries, different worlds or even different points of view. All it takes is an engaged imagination and the right resources and they can explore the far-off corners of their active and growing minds.

First Book offers books and resources that will stimulate children’s creativity this summer and take their imaginations on vacations!

Imaginative Play

Children can fly to outer space, perform surgery, put out an inferno, explore uncharted territories and do it all before lunch with the help of fun role playing costumes. When children imagine what it would be like to be an astronaut or a doctor their world expands and they begin to dream bigger. In this section you’ll also find puppets, building blocks and even a toy taco!

imagination on vacation

Fairy and Folk Tales

This section is filled with old classics as well as exciting new titles that will keep young minds captivated. These stories, legends and myths from different cultures all over the globe will give children endless worlds full of princesses, monsters and giant beanstalks to explore.

imagination on vacation

Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Books and stories from different dimensions and galaxies! Free from the rules of space and time, the books and stories in this section will help children think beyond what seems possible and imagine freely. Children can go to the beach in another galaxy or visit an amusement park in the future…the imagination vacation possibilities go on and on with these engaging books.

imagination on vacation

Arts and Crafts

All of the beautiful paintings or paper planes children dream up can’t come to life without the tools and resources they need. This section features a wide variety of kits and activities that will help children turn their creative ideas into fantastic works of art or fun puppets.

imagination on vacation

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14. Cathy Was My Best Friend. Here’s How I Honored Her.

Judy and Cathy 2

Judy Willner is an educator and writing skills teacher for elementary school students in Philadelphia. When she lost her closest friend Cathy earlier this year, Judy decided the best way to honor her would be to set up a First Book campaign. She wanted to celebrate their shared love of reading and children.

Judy wanted to share Cathy’s story in her own words:

Dear Reader,

June 29 would have been my Cathy’s 60th birthday. I had already started planning for it this time last year. We did that kind of stuff for each other – big parties, cards sent sixty days in advance.

Cathy was my best friend. We met in middle school, survived high school as nerdy late-bloomers, and traversed around Mexico together after graduation. I remember how the “older folks” who shared our tour bus loved her so much, how her smile and charm were infectious.

She was a reader, a card-sender, the queen of Facebook, and above all else, the most generous and kind-hearted person anyone could ever hope to be their best friend. I am so happy that for forty-five years I was privileged enough to call Cathy my best friend.

To celebrate and honor Cathy I decided to create a First Book Campaign in her name.

Cathy never had children of her own, but children had a very special place in her heart. Getting books to kids in her hometown of Philadelphia would have sent her over the moon. There would have been pictures all over Facebook of kids with their books!

Now, more than 500 books are going to be put in the hands of students in my classes and other classes across Philadelphia.

Cathy did that. And you can too.

Here’s to Cathy,

Judy Willner
Teacher and Book Lover
Philadelphia, PA

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15. How to Campaign Like a #FirstBookChampion

Ladist13u volunteer with disney book and kid

Being a First Book Champion is all about spreading the joy of reading to kids in need. Starting a campaign is the first step to becoming a champion and you’ve already done that – you’re halfway there!

Now you’re brainstorming – thinking of all the clever ways you can get donors invested in your cause. Lucky for you, we are one step ahead – we’ve got a list of the five best ways to fundraise that will be both fun and effective.

Now – Get Ready, Get Set, (Fun)draise! 

 

1.Host a Read-a-Thonauditorium filled with kids, parents, volunteers, etc.

Partner with a coffee shop or local business, get some friends together, and read! Vote on a book and set a time limit. Have people donate to participate or to come and listen.

Pick a book everyone will love to hear read aloud like the Hunger Games or a marathon reading of Roald Dahl’s collection. See if the business will donate part of their profits to your campaign – remind them that it is tax deductible!

 

2. Be Active

Setting a personal goal to align with your campaign goal will keep you motivated and striving for success. Host a walk, run, or bike ride. Train with friends, have fun, and get fit.

Feeling really adventurous? Campaign while you live out your greatest fitness dreams – like hiking the Grand Canyon or rock climbing in Colorado. Ask people to donate when you meet milestones.

 

59383kirkland0328_First-Book3. Donations for a Special Occasion

Getting hitched? Have a birthday coming up? Maybe a bat mitzvah or a graduation? Skip the gifts and have friends and family donate to help give books to kids who need them. There is no better birthday present than knowing you are putting a big smile on a child’s face.

 

 

4. Get Competitive

Nothing fires people up quite like a competition – use that fire to fuel your First Book Campaign. Set up a literary trivia night, a 10-second reading challenge, maybe even a poetry slam competition. Your prize is glory — and knowing your giving the gift of reading to kids in need.

 

5. Books for Books

When donors make donations to your campaign, give them book recommendations. 1507874_10152120653148894_1055536980_nSet up a give a book, take a book free library, encouraging participants to donate to your campaign. Start a book club. Remind people how much they love reading and what a joy it is to share that love with others.

 

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16. One Fan’s Campaign to Honor Her Favorite Book-Loving Celebrity

KerryThere is one woman who inspires Tesa Brand, a community volunteer and aspiring publicist from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Kerry Washington.

Washington, the star of ABC’s Scandal, is an education advocate and avid reader. For her birthday last January, Washington started a campaign to provide books for kids in need by raising money through First Book. So when Tesa decided that she wanted to celebrate the woman who “inspires her every day,” starting a campaign through First Book in her honor was the obvious choice.

Not so obvious was the amazing response Tesa’s campaign would receive. In just two weeks the campaign exceeded its goal and received donations from all over the world.

Using her network of fellow Kerry Washington fans, or “Kerracters” as they call themselves, Tesa took to Twitter and promoted the campaign. From there, the campaign took off and Tesa could hardly believe the amount of support it received.

In total, Tesa’s campaign raised $4,000 to help spread the joy of reading. Through First Book campaigns, Tesa was able to identify and direct the funds raised to help specific schools and programs. To further honor her hero, Tesa chose three schools and programs that are near and dear to Kerry’s heart, including the Boys and Girls Club that Kerry attended as a child.

For Tesa, it is all about paying it forward and ensuring that kids have the same resources and opportunities she had.

“I loved going to the library. The days we got to go to the library in school were my favorite days,” she says. “Books really are the key to everything in life.”

Whether you’re an aspiring publicist with a love for libraries or a movie star with a passion for storytelling, you can make a huge impact in your community or across the country by starting a First Book campaign today.

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17. Monthly Book List: Our Five Favorite Books this July

Our favorite books this July include the final Elephant and Piggie book. a book to inspire community engagement and creativity, the story of one of your kids’ favorite summertime toys, a captivating novel for animal lovers and a smart and suspenseful novel for mature readers.

Read on to see all the great stories our book experts can’t get enough of this month!

For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):

thank_you_bookThe Thank You Book (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

The 25th and final Elephant and Piggie book will warm the hearts of grown-ups and have kids in stitches! It makes a perfect gift for a friend, a teacher, or anyone to whom you want to say, “Thank you.”’

 

For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

maybe_something_beautifulMaybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy

“Beautiful” describes both the art and the story in this wonderful picture book (inspired by real events!) about the power of art, creativity, and community engagement. It may invite readers to see the potential for creative change in their own neighborhoods.

 

 

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

whoosh_chris_bartonWhoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

Kids will be fascinated to learn how their favorite toy was invented. This lively and interesting biography shows the importance of persistence, passion, and problem solving. It’s perfect for budding scientists and engineers!

 

 

For 5th & 6th grade (Ages 10-12):

dogs_way_homeA Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

Kids (and adults!) will be utterly won over by this terrific, captivating novel. A deeply moving story of a girl separated from her beloved dog, it’s a true “must read” for any animal lover!

 

 

 

Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

burn_baby_burnBurn, Baby, Burn by Meg Medina

We love author Meg Medina! Smart and suspenseful, her powerful new novel is a great story of personal strength and family loyalty set in NYC during one tension-filled summer. A great choice for mature teens, it’s sure to prompt dynamic discussions about past and current events.

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18. Win Games and Activities to Make Learning Fun All Summer Long!

Blog Image

Looking for creative ways to make learning fun in your summer program? Want to ward off summer boredom? Need activities to keep parents engaged in their child’s learning while school is out?

Simply answer the question “How would you use these activities to encourage summer learning?” by commenting on this Facebook status between July 8 and July 15.

You can enter to win a collection of games and activities like those shown below for your program or school. See rules below .

shape_by_shape_gameShape by Shape

Shape By Shape is an advanced tangram-style game, made more difficult because you also fill in the frame around each shape you make. With 60 challenges, Shape By Shape is a great exercise in conceptual thinking and spatial relationships.

 


zingo_gameZingo!

It’s not just bingo. It’s Zingo, a matching game that encourages pre-readers and early readers alike to match the pictures and words to their challenge cards. The Zingo! Zinger dispenses tiles and fun as young minds quickly race to be the first player with a full card and yell “ZINGO!”

 

 

roll_and_play_gameRoll & Play

Roll & Play was the first toddler game ever designed. Roll the big plush cube, select a card with the matching color and act out the activity shown: “Make a happy face,” “Roar like a lion.” With every roll, there are endless learning opportunities, including colors, numbers and language skills. This family-bonding toddler game encourages creativity, active play and gross motor skills.

 

yoga_spinner_gameYoga Spinner

Yoga Spinner is a delightful introduction to yoga that encourages teamwork and healthy physical activity. Give the spinner a whirl and perform the pose on the corresponding Yoga Pose Card. If you can hold the pose for 10 seconds, you keep the card, and the first player to collect a card in each color wins! You’ll need a little luck and teamwork, and a bit more flexibility and balance to win this entertaining yoga game.

 

*Entries by individuals serving kids in need who are registered First Book will be eligible to win a selection of games and activities like those featured above, up to a $200 value. Eligible educators should enter to win by posting his/her answer to the question “How would you use these in your classroom, school or program?” to this status on First Book’s Facebook page before 12AM on July 16, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries on July 18, 2016 and notified via email. The games and activities awarded to the winner will will be selected for age range of the children served.

If you work with kids in need, you can sign up here.

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19. A Simple Bag of Books Can Help Beat Summer Slide

Books For Keeps smiling girl

Aliyah had always been a reluctant reader.

While other students curled up with their favorite stories during reading time, Aliyah struggled to find books that captured her imagination.

That is until Aliyah was introduced to Books for Keeps, a nonprofit based in Athens, Georgia that offers kids the opportunity to choose 12 new books to keep and read over the summer. Since Books for Keeps’ founding, 240,000 books have gone home with kids at 11 elementary schools in their community.

With their help, Aliyah was able to walk into her school’s media center and find stories she was interested in and excited to read.

“You can put a book in a child’s hands that is on his or her grade level,” says Leslie Hale, Executive Director, “but a very different thing happens when a child picks out the books that they’re excited about.”

Giving kids a chance to choose books that interest them is especially powerful during the summer when they are out of school and at risk for summer slide.

Students from low-income households who don’t have access to books typically see their reading test scores drop over the summer, but the 4,300 kids (and growing) who participate with Books for Keeps actually improve their reading skills during that time.

And Aliyah was one of them.

“I just read all summer,” she told Leslie in the fall, “my brothers would go out and play and say, ‘don’t you want to come outside with us?’ and I would just say no, I want to stay here and read my books.”

After spending the whole summer with her nose buried in a book, reading doesn’t feel like the chore it used to — Aliyah now looks forward to independent reading. And what’s more: Aliyah shared that she now feels more engaged and confident at school.

And it all came from a simple bag of 12 books.

If you work with children in need you can find books and resources to promote summer reading on the First Book Marketplace.

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20. This is a Life He Never Imagined

IMG_4043

When Antwon’s kids get a little older, he plans to tell them what he’s been through. A 25-year-old father of three, he’s working hard to give them all a better life.

Today, he is employed as a plumber, studying to get his GED and has completed a leadership and empowerment program for young fathers… twice. But this is a life he never imagined.

Antwon grew up in the Woodland Terrace housing development in Washington, DC where many families live off an annual income of $7000 per year.

“My mother worked on and off. She was raising five kids. She was struggling.” When his siblings’ father, who his family relied on for financial support, passed away, “everything changed.” As the oldest child, Antwon felt a tremendous sense of responsibility.

“The only thing I cared about was taking care of my family, but my mind wasn’t thinking that I could get a job. I wasn’t old enough to get a job. I was 13 at the time, and I got into street life. I was selling drugs.”

Antwon faced time in prison. While he was incarcerated, his mother passed due to a stress induced seizure.

A few weeks before returning home, something hit Antwon. “I had children, and I couldn’t do nothing for them but stand on the block all day. I needed a job. I needed to stay off the streets.”

IMG_7800That’s when Antwon connected with Smart from the Start, a family support, community engagement and school readiness organization. As a First Book partner, the nonprofit helps parents and caretakers become their child’s first teacher by supplying them books to help break the cycle of chronic school underachievement.

“I read to them. They like the sticker books, but I read,” he shares with a smile. “My oldest son, he is in school now. He’s got good grades. I sneak up on him sometimes, but I never let him know I’m coming. I just peek in the classroom. He’s doing good.”

Antwon knows there is work ahead, but he’s incredibly motivated. He needs to earn his GED to get an apprenticeship. Eventually, he wants to become a firefighter. But above all else he wants his kids to have a better life than he had.

“I want to motivate them to do better than I have done – finish school, get a good jobs; if they have kids, take care of their kids, be responsible.”

“It’s crazy,” he tells us, “I’ve seen a lot of things, but now I don’t even look back… My whole life has just changed.”

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21. Monthly Book List: Our Favorite Books this June

Are you looking for a giggle-filled bedtime story? A book about friendship and the summer Olympics? You’ll find that and so much more in our favorite books this month…

Teach kids to coding this summer with a fun story, learn about the history of jazz musicians in the 1950s or turn through the pages of a historical action book. Read on to find out more about of June favorites.

For Pre-K –K (Ages 3-6):

good night owlGood Night Owl – written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

This funny and charming read aloud makes a perfect, funny read for bedtime or anytime! Kids will enjoy searching for the mouse on every page and laughing as owl attempts to find the source of the squeak that’s keeping him awake. We love it!

For 1st and 2nd Grade (Ages 6-8):

quickest kid in clarksvilleThe Quickest Kid in Clarksville – written by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Frank Morrison

In this lively picture book about friendship, competition, and perseverance, two girls take inspiration from the same hero – Olympic athlete Wilma Rudolph. This is a great book to read in the lead-up to the summer Olympics! Pair it with the nonfiction book Wilma Unlimited if you want to extend your students’ learning.

 

For 3rd & 4th grade (Ages 8-10):

secret codersSecret Coders – written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

Comics + coding = this awesome book. Kids will dive easily into the plot of this clever graphic novel, learning the basics of coding and programming along the way. It’s the first book in terrific new series from award-winning author Gene Luen Yang who was a long-time computer science teacher. He knows just how to teach a complex subject in a fun and accessible way.

 

For 5th and 6th Grade (Ages 10-12):

jazz dayJazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph – written by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo

Nonfiction and poetry merge in this fantastic new book that was just awarded the Boston Globe Horn Book Award! Gorgeous illustrations mingle with rich poems focused on a summer day in 1958, when more than 50 great Jazz musicians came together in Harlem for a photo that would become world-famous. Each poem reveals a bit about the musicians, their music, and a key era in our nation’s history.  Truly beautiful!

 

Grades 7 & up (Ages 13+):

samurai risingSamurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune – written by Pamela S. Turner, illustrated Gareth Hinds

Action, adventure, and fascinating facts fill the pages of this gripping nonfiction book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in history, war, or the ancient world. Pam Turner’s writing keeps the tone light and the plot racing. We couldn’t put it down!

 

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22. New Books by our Favorite Authors

Some of our favorite children’s book authors have been very busy in 2016. We are thrilled to share that their latest works are now available on the First Book Marketplace!

todd parr new bookTeachers Rock  – written and illustrated by Todd Parr

From admiring the way teachers foster creativity in the classroom to how they ensure all children’s needs are met, author & illustrator Todd Parr offers an ode to everything teachers contribute to the world. Bursting with positivity about school and the people who make it special, this book is sure to become a classroom and at-home favorite.

 

sherman alexie yuyi morales picture bookThunderboy Jr. – written by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

What’s in a name? Author Sherman Alexie explores naming rituals and Native American culture in his new picture book, beautifully illustrated by Yuyi Morales. This book is a great read-aloud, celebrating expressions of individuality and the unique relationship between a child and parent.

 

rick riordan new bookTrials of Apollowritten by Rick Riordan

Being a teenager is tough – especially for Apollo (maybe because he’s actually four thousand years old). In the latest book from author Rick Riordan, Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, is cast down from Olympus to earth after insulting his father Zeus. Without his powers, he must learn to survive in modern-day New York City until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favor.

 

dicamillo young adult bookRaymie Nightingale – written by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo’s middle-grade coming-of-age novel follows young Raymie Clarke in her quest to win the 1975 Little Miss Central Florida Tire contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw her into an unlikely friendship with two other contestants — and challenges each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

 

Have you read any of these new titles yet? Give us your book review in the comments, and take a look at all the new titles on the First Book Marketplace!

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23. You Have The Power to Change a Child’s Life

Campaign announcement hearder

You have the power to change a child’s life by doing what you love.

By hosting First Book campaigns, hundreds of people have provided books and resources to children in need.

They’ve asked friend and family to make donations to their campaign instead of purchasing  birthday gifts. Others have thrown block parties or hosted reading celebrations in their local libraries to raise funds. Two mighty champions are tackling over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, hoping to put a book in a child’s hand for each mile they complete.

And when they reach their fundraising goals, great things happen. Schools are able to stock their libraries. Summer programs have books for their students to read while school is out. Kids are introduced to stories that will stay with them for a lifetime.

When you start a campaign with First Book you can raise money to provide books for your school or program, for kids in your community or anywhere in the country. Become a champion for kids in need today.

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24. This Girl Wrote One Email to Help Kids in Need

Elka v2

For thirteen year old Elka Longstreth, books have always been within arm’s reach, ready to transport her to another world. In fact, books are her world.

Elka has books piling up on her desk and spilling out of the many bookshelves in her home. She’s always been a voracious reader. When she was only in first grade, she read the entire Harry Potter series.

Now, she often juggles multiple titles at once – books for school, recommendations from her parents, her favorite novel – she can’t get enough.
So when it was time to start her bat mitzvah project, she wanted to give books to kids to help them love reading and learning as much as she does.

Elka and her parents started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to provide books and resources to kids in need through First Book. They decided to keep it simple: they shared the campaign via email with friends and family. Elka was completely shocked by the response.

In one short month, Elka exceeded her fundraising goal of $2000. With one email Elka was able to give 685 new books to kids in need.

When Elka celebrated her bat mitzvah, she was overjoyed to know that kids throughout the country would be able to fall in love with the stories she enjoys so much.

You can share the joy of reading with kids in need by becoming a First Book Champion like Elka. Start a First Book campaign today.

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25. Four Easy Steps to Become a Champion for Kids in Need

Four Easy Steps Infographic

You’ve got a great fundraising idea. You have a goal. You’re excited to provide books and resources for kids in need.

Now what?

First Book Campaigns makes starting an individual or group campaign easier than ever. Follow these four steps and become a champion for children in need today!

Create Your Campaign – Start by going to firstbook.fundly.com and signing up using your personal email or Facebook account. Give your campaign a name and a goal then follow the easy to use campaign creation wizard.

Customize Your Page – Make your campaign stand out! Tell your story and encourage potential donors to give to your campaign. Present facts and statistics about the need for books and resources for kids. Ask directly for donations in specific amounts. Share photos and images. And of course, don’t forget to thank your donors.

Designate Your Funds – Your campaign can support any eligible school or program serving kids in need. All you need to do is verify that the school or program is eligible, be sure the school or program signs up with First Book and then complete the online designation form. The funds raised can also provide books and resources to wherever the need is greatest.

Promote Your Campaign – Spread the word about your campaign. Reach out to friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances using social media, email, flyers and even good old-fashioned word of mouth.

For more information about starting a First Book campaign please visit our campaign resource kit or the First Book campaign site.

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