“If you can do one thing to prepare yourself for the future… you should spend as much time as you can with people who are different than you”. — President Bill Clinton
I recently had the opportunity to join Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president and CEO, at a special event for the Thea Foundation. Founded by Linda and Paul Leopoulos shortly after the untimely death of their daughter Thea Kay, the Thea Foundation connects young people to the power of visual art, dance, drama, and creative writing across Arkansas and beyond.
At First Book we’re eager to learn from the success of the Thea Foundation and we hope to work with Linda, Paul and others to help bring the arts to life for all students, regardless of their economic situations, including the hundreds of thousands of children in First Book’s national network of low-income classrooms and programs.
Thea Kay Leopoulos (photo from theafoundation.org)
We know that it can make a profound difference. Paul and Linda shared Thea’s story — a typical one for many 17-year-old girls, making C’s and D’s and disliking school.
But by the end of her junior year, Thea was making A’s and B’s in difficult subjects (an A in Trigonometry!) and loving school. As they came to terms with losing their daughter, Linda and Paul sought to understand what happened in Thea’s life that caused such a drastic academic transformation.
The answer: her new involvement in visual art, dance, drama and creative writing. This made all the difference for Thea; an idea strongly supported by research.
Chandler Arnold, Bill Clinton & Kyle Zimmer celebrating the Thea Foundation
Among the educators, entrepreneurs, and arts supporters that night was President Bill Clinton, a longtime supporter of the powerful organization. Over dinner Kyle and I were able to speak with the President about a range of topics, from Thea (who the president knew well) to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The thing I’ll remember most? The President’s advice to an eight-year-old over dinner: “If you can do one thing to prepare yourself for the future… you should spend as much time as you can with people who are different than you”.
Wise advice for all of us; eight-year-olds and grown-ups alike.
Kyle also asked him if Hillary would be running for President in a few years, but we’ll keep his answer to ourselves.
NOTE: We are grateful for the generosity of Dr. Martha Bernadett of the Molina Foundation for making our participation in this event possible.
Chandler Arnold is First Book’s executive vice president.
The post What I Learned from Bill Clinton: How to Prepare Yourself for the Future appeared first on First Book Blog.
“Our kids don’t get to have dreams, aspirations, hopes. They can’t even think about college; it’s not in their minds. That’s why these books are so important. Books are the beginning of everything. You learn about other places, you learn about the world.”
– Angela Fedele of the WE CAN Program, a statewide program based in Princeton, W.Va., that provides volunteer mentors for at-risk kids
McDowell County, West Virginia, home to about 22,000 people, is one of the poorest counties in the state, and ranked last in education. Which is why First Book has joined a coalition of businesses, labor unions and nonprofits – more than 40 local, state and national groups altogether – who are working to change that.
For our part, First Book has pledged to provide a brand-new book to every student in McDowell County, books chosen by the local teachers and program leaders who work with the kids. And that’s just the beginning: We distributed 300,000 brand-new books in West Virginia in the last few years, and we’re working with almost 500 local classrooms and programs across the state. Every one of those kids is connected to an ongoing supply of new books through First Book.
“We’re here today because we want to level the educational playing field,” said Chandler Arnold, First Book’s executive vice-president, speaking yesterday at the kickoff ceremony in Charleston. “We want to ensure that the children of McDowell County have access to a steady supply of top-notch books and educational resources.”
Lean more about the project, led by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), at Reconnecting McDowell.
Help us get the word out, West Virginia! If you work for a school or program that serves children from low-income families, or if you’d like to help your child’s teacher or program leader get new books, sign up with First Book. And if you’d like to join one of our local volunteer groups, we’d love to hear from you.
Today’s guest blogger is Laura Geringer, beloved children’s book author and one of First Book’s favorite people.
Last night First Book’s Chandler Arnold and I attended the final exciting performance of Cover to Cover, a lively collection of seven brief musicals all based on children’s books available on the First Book Marketplace, including my own book, A Three Hat Day.
My hope is that the many children who receive and read this special twenty-fifth anniversary edition of my book through First Book will learn to love reading as much as I do and that books will become a very important part of their lives.
The show was created and produced by the Kaufman Center’s Summer Theater Workshop, directed by Sean Hartley, and performed in Merkin Hall, here in New York City. For twenty years, the Kaufman Center has been commissioning new playwrights and songwriters to create short child-friendly plays and songs. Like First Book, this non-profit organization is dedicated to enriching the lives of children from all walks of life through the magic of storytelling.
To quote one of the beautiful songs in last night’s new stage adaptation of A Three Hat Day, a reading a book can be like “Opening a door / where there never was a door before.”
We hope this first collaboration of First Book and the Kaufman Center will pave the way for future programs that offer music, art and story to more and more children throughout the nation, and that bring families together with authors, artists, educators and community members in a celebration of the joy of reading.
Today’s blog post is by Chandler Arnold, First Book’s executive vice-president and director of the First Book Marketplace:
Not long ago, First Book introduced a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) section on the First Book Marketplace, our award-winning online bookstore for programs serving kids in need. This special STEM section is made possible through our partnership with Lockheed Martin, a world-renowned aerospace, security and technology company, and their K-12 education initiative, Engineers in the Classroom.
To celebrate this partnership, we’re going to feature some special guest posts on our blog next week from Lockheed Martin scientists and engineers. They’ll share a little bit about the cool things they do every day as part of their jobs – like planning missions to Mars or delivering radar systems to clients in faraway countries.
In today’s global, high-tech economy, students in the United States face competition from all corners of the world, and they need to master subjects like math, technology and engineering in order to become the rocket scientists, aerospace engineers and computer programmers of tomorrow. Books about these subjects can be hard to come by for schools and programs serving kids from low-income neighborhoods, but, thanks to Lockheed Martin’s generosity, First Book is able to provide them – now and for years to come.
Like our friends at Lockheed Martin, we want the kids we serve to have the opportunity to become astronauts, study volcanoes and build the next generation of computers. Making these books available to them is the first step.