Guest blogger Carol Rasco is President and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), an organization that motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.
“No more pencils,
no more books!
No more teachers’
Are your kids enjoying summer vacation? Great! But don’t toss out those books and pencils — they can be part of “summer fun!” Exercising kids’ brain muscles all summer brings big benefits in the fall. And not exercising them can mean a loss of hard-earned skills. Picking up a book and reading with kids is the best way to sneak a lot of learning into these lazy, hazy days.
As part of President Obama and the First Lady’s United We Serve summer service initiative, RIF has launched Read for Change to provide parents, caregivers and volunteers a visible measure to record time spent reading with young children at home and in their communities over the remainder of this summer.
The site features a minute meter, which will track the time spent reading to children with a goal to reach 3 million minutes by September 11, 2009—the National Day of Service and Remembrance. RIF will then randomly select five participants to receive a children’s book collection and the opportunity to select a school in their community to also receive a book collection.
Today marks the beginning of Education Week July 27-31, a highlight of ‘United We Serve,’ President Obama’s call to nationwide community service. This is a challenge to all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful service because ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things, which is directly aligned with what we do here at First Book.
Kyle Zimmer and President Obama
We have seen first-hand how our friends, volunteers, and the heroic programs reaching kids in need serve tirelessly, year-after-year, educating our children. We know you are already heroes, whether you are working in classrooms directly with children in need or making a simple monetary donation to provide more books for kids who need them. We are deeply thankful for all of you who help elevate educational opportunities for children across the nation.
Three easy ways you can participate in Education Week:
- Visit http://www.serve.gov and look for volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Visit http://www.serve.gov and post a volunteer opportunity in your community.
- Start a “Books for Kids, Books for Keeps” virtual book drive to raise funds to get more books to kids through First Book. Individuals go to: http://www.firstbook.org/booksforkeeps. Organizations serving kids in need go to: http://www.firstbook.org/rgbkbk.
As one of 14 national nonprofits on the ‘United We Serve’ Education Team advancing book distributions, summer learning opportunities, and library card registrations, First Book is leading efforts to dramatically increase access to books for our nation’s disadvantaged children. The ‘United We Serve’ initiative culminates in a day of service and remembrance on September 11, but is intended to remain a sustained, collaborative and focused effort to promote service as a way of life for all Americans.
We are pleased to be a part of this national movement to highlight service and we thank you for helping us deliver the books that will brighten children’s lives and inspire their journeys. With your help we can reach even more children.
We celebrate Education Week all week, and through all of you, throughout the year.
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Last Thursday, June 25th, I was lucky enough to join the President, the First Lady, and hundreds of Congressional family members to prepare 15,000 backpacks with books and other items for the children of servicemen and women. With the incredibly generous support of Random House Children’s Books and Disney Publishing Worldwide, First Book was able to donate 30,000 books (two for each backpack!) with a retail value of almost $250,000.
The service event highlighted ‘United We Serve,’ President Obama’s call to all Americans to engage in service projects and create meaningful impact in their towns and communities. The ‘United We Serve’ summer service initiative began June 22nd and runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. The initiative is being led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency dedicated to fostering service in communities across the country.
Curious about the books the President and the First Lady helped us pack? Here’s the list — full of great choices for your own summer reading!
- Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee
- Magic Tree House #28: High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
- Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
- Holes by Louis Sachar