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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: West Virginia, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. Reconnecting McDowell: First Book Joins the Effort to Rescue a West Virginia Community

“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

Chandler Arnold, First Book's executive vice-president, talks with local kids in McDowell County, West Virginia

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.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten shares a new book from First Book with a student in McDowell County , West VirginiaLean 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.

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2. Country Roads, Take Me Home: First Book Goes All Out for West Virginia Kids

“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

Angela Fedele is one of the many teachers and program leaders who spend their days doing everything they can to help West Virginia’s kids. At First Book, our mission is to do everything we can to help people like Angela.

By signing up with First Book, Angela was able to provide $3,000 worth of new books for the children in her program, thanks to a combination of grant money and support from local First Book volunteers.

First Book Brings 300,000 Books to West VirginiaFirst Book works with programs across the country, but we have a special place in our hearts for West Virginia. We’ve provided 294,228 brand-new books to children in need across the state, and plan to distribute 14,000 more by the end of the summer, thanks in part to a federal grant from the Department of Education.

In addition, we’re launching a new partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to ensure that more kids have the books and resources they need. We’ll be announcing more details about this partnership soon, but we had a great kick-off last week in Charleston. Together with our friends at the AFT, we provided new books, along with grants to purchase more, to two local schools – West Side Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

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.

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3. Department of Education Grant to Benefit Programs in Maine and West Virginia

Thanks to the support of U.S. Senator Susan Collins (Maine) and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (West Virginia), First Book received grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Education to provide new books to children in need throughout the states of Maine and West Virginia.

As a generous part of the grants, First Book is pleased to offer the following opportunities to all eligible Recipient Groups in Maine and West Virginia:

  • Through September 30, 2009, all groups in Maine and West Virginia that complete a purchase from the First Book Marketplace will receive a matching Marketplace store credit to be used towards a subsequent purchase. Up to $500 in a matching store credit will be issued at the end of the promotion period and must be spent by November 20, 2009.
  • While grant funds are available, all Recipient Groups in Maine and West Virginia that opt to have books shipped to them from a First Book National Book Bank distribution will not be charged the normal $0.35 per book shipping fee as the shipping cost will be paid for by the Department of Education Grant.

For more information about the grants and for updates on incentive opportunities, please see www.firstbook.org/maine and www.firstbook.org/doewestvirginia.

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4. Andrea and Nicole’s Big First Book WV Adventure!

Not wanting to compete with Oprah and Gail’s 11 day, 3,600 mile trip across the country, we kept it simple!  We hit the road, for a 3 day, 900 mile trip through the Mountain State of West Virginia!  Our primary goal was to the spread the magic of books throughout the state by visiting with new and old friends in four dynamic cities! 

  • Bluefield -WV’s most elevated city-2655 feet above sea level!
  • Beckley-the home of Tamarack and the Exhibition Coal Mine!
  • Charleston-the illustrious state capitol!
  • Parkersburg-the savings bond capital of America! (Every U.S. Savings Bond bought or redeemed has passed through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg since 1957.)

With a road trip, you must share the factoids you learned along the way. 

O.K., back to books…

Day 1, we connected with our existing Advisory Boards to host a training for Mercer and McDowell Counties and newly formed First Book-Tazewell County, VA (WV’s neighbor to the South).  Day 2, we traveled I-77N to host a Meet and Greet with new friends in Beckley to share with them the resources First Book could bring to their community.  And on Day 3, we held two “Starting Your Advisory Board” training sessions in Charleston and Parkersburg for the birth of two new Advisory Boards in West Virginia!

There are many Wild and Wonderful things happening in West Virginia! Most importantly, First Book is in the final year of a two-year U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Education to provide new books to children in need throughout the state of West Virginia.  As a generous part of the grant, First book is able to offer some special opportunities for programs in WV serving children in need to register with First Book to experience the magic.  For more information about the grant and for updates on incentive opportunities, please see www.firstbook.org/doewestvirginia.

We’d like to give huge kudos to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia staff for making our trip a success-Kathrn K, Jarrod M, Scott F and S. Tuck, and a big thank you to Francis from Mary’s Cradle, Michelle with United Way of the Virginias and Daniel at the Dian-Lee House in Bluefield!

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5. How First Book Gained an Army of Warehouse Workers …

Boxes of books in a First Book warehouseWe move a lot of books at First Book. Over five million books last year, to schools and programs serving kids from low-income communities, and those cases of books are HEAVY.

Sometimes people assume we have a warehouse somewhere, maybe at our national headquarters in DC. We definitely do not. (Our staff is doubled up in many of our offices, so there is definitely no room for giant pallets filled with books. Not to mention the difficulty of driving great big trucks through the streets of our nation’s capital).

So where do all these books come from?

When our friends at publishing companies donate books to First Book, we need warehouses to put them in. In years past, we have relied on a network of generous volunteers throughout the country, and we continue to do so. But with donated space you sometimes have to move inventory in and out quickly, and it can be hard to plan in advance.

So First Book, in partnership with an innovative high school program in Martinsburg, West Virginia, decided to put students to work moving our books around.

“What First Book has been able to do has totally revitalized the program,” said Doc Greenfield, who runs the warehouse program in Martinsburg. “Now, working with First Book, we have real product, real purpose and real customers.”

Warehouse management and materials handling are useful skills to have in today’s job market, and there are programs in high schools all over the country that teach them. But not many companies want to trust their inventory to warehouse workers who lack experience, so the students in these programs often resort to moving empty grocery boxes. Helpful, but not as helpful as dealing with real inventory.

However, it just so happens that First Book has TONS of real inventory, in the form of books. And we mean tons. And, since we want to spend every last penny we can getting new books into the hands of kids in need, we’re happy to trust those pallets to students in warehouse programs. (It turns out that the students do every bit as good a job as the professionals). On top of that, every school warehouse program we work with gets to keep a small portion of the books for eligible programs their community.

Greenfield runs a two-year program, and he has many success stories; it’s been easier for his students to get work with their hands-on experience. “I’m trying to get them ready for the real world,” he said.

In addition to Greenfield’s program in West Virginia, First Book works with warehouse programs in Altoona, Pa., Rock Hill, S.C., and Lake City, Fla., and we’re working to sign up several more.

The program has been a great partnership, with major benefits for First Book – letting us control our inventory of books to make sure they go to the places that need them.

“At any given point in time, we can hold half-a-million books,” said Rachael Voorhees, who heads up First Book’s logistics team. “We’ve never been able to say that before. It’s huge.”

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6. Thank you young readers of West Virginia!


A huge and humble THANK YOU goes out today to the children of West Virginia for making BIRD this year’s winner of the West Virginia Children’s Choice Book Award! What a tremendous honor. BIRD was up against some big names this year. You can see the entire nominee list here. As with other state book awards, in this award schools are given a list of titles and students vote for their favorites throughout the year. The award usually gets between 500 and 1000 student participants! Thank you, thank you, thank you West Virginia! I’m so glad you loved BIRD as much as I do~

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7. Non Fiction Monday, Challenges, Awards, and ZOMBIES!

First things first, HT to Bookshelves of Doom.

You may want to preorder your copy NOW of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance+Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! How can you resist?!

Y'all saw the results of this morning's ALA Youth Media Awards, right? For me, it provided the perfect excuse not to work out. Ok, the cuteness of the dog would have worked this morning, but obviously, a good children's librarian should watch the awards webcast instead of working out, right? RIGHT!

I have very strong opinions in some of these categories, but they're the same categories that I'm sitting on non-ALA awards committees for (Cybils and Blue Crab) so I'll keep my trap shut until I'm allowed to discuss such things.

In other news, The New Classics Challenge ends on the 31st. This started in AUGUST, but I forgot about it until this month. Whoops. So far, I've read 2.5 of my 6. Also, I was supposed to read The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel but I couldn't find our copy, so given I was checking a book out of the library, I figured it should be The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

Anyway, the two I finished are both nonfiction! Yay!


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Anne Fadiman

I have long wanted to read this book because of the fact it deals with Hmong culture. Growing up in the 80s and 90s in Northeast Wisconsin, the Hmong made up the vast majority of the non-white population, but this isn't an ethnic group that you hear a lot about, which has always surprised me.

One of the reasons I love the Jackson Friends series so much is because there is a Hmong character.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a heartbreaking tale of a young Hmong girl in Merced, California, who has severe epilepsy. Due to the language and cultural barriers between her family and the medical community, the system fails her utterly.

Fadiman's account explains how each side tried its hardest to help Lia Lee and how each side completely failed her. Mostly, she does this without judgment and anger, but once and awhile, she can't, and I can't really fault her for that.

Fadiman does an excellent job of explaining the medical issues surrounding Lia's condition and treatment, as well as the cultural issues surrounding her life, and the history of the Hmong people and their life in America.

My only fault with the book is that it tends to treat Hmong culture as completely homogeneous, without the usual disclaimers or sentence weakeners you see in other cultural books, such as "traditionally X culture does... " or "many member of Y ethnic group feel..."

My other wish is for an updated version, as many of the troubles facing the community Lia and her family lived in had to deal with immigration and welfare status--both contentious issues that have undergone drastic changes since this book first came out in 1997. Luckily, the book's website does offer updates on how the people we meet in these pages are doing since publication.

Oh, and when discussing China, it uses the Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin system of romanization, but that's a China-geek complaint, and the book isn't about China, so I'll let it slide.


The Glass Castle: A Memoir Jeannette Walls

I picked this one because it's on the scary list.

Jeannette Walls grew up unbelievably poor. Her father was a dreamer and drunk, her mother an artist who didn't want to be tied down with a regular job. As a result, they moved a lot, lived in places with no water or electricity and often went hungry. Despite this Jeannette managed to attend Barnard and is now a gossip columnist for MSNBC.

While Walls life was unbelievably hard, the plot is the only driving factor in this book. The events make it readable, but the characters are flat--there's little insight, or feeling. (Except for Walls embarrassment when she feels people are laughing at her, or staring. So it's odd that she became a gossip columnist, right?) Many times when writing about something horrible, survivors tell their tale in a detached manner--as if truly engaging in the subject matter again would inflict great physiological damage, which it might. While this is quality I will forget in stories that we would otherwise might not hear, such as This is Paradise!: My North Korean Childhood, I'm less forgiving in instances such as these. First this happened, then this, then this, then this. No analysis, just plot.

While engaging, I'm not entirely sure why it won so many awards because the literary merit isn't as there as it could be.

Overall, I give it a resounding "meh"

Nonfiction Round up is here.

New Classics Round up is here.

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