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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Inspiring Stories, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 22 of 22
1. Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project

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In November, First Book and its partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute presented the Citizen Power Project; a challenge to educators nationwide to identify, plan, and implement a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community.

Fifteen projects received grants to help turn big plans into big impact.

The projects represent a wide range of civic engagement – from teaching empathy and healthy habits to supporting student voices and helping the environment.

So far, the civic impact of these projects has been phenomenal.

In Framingham, Massachusetts, middle school English teacher Lori DiGisi knows her students don’t always feel empowered. “They feel like the adults rule everything and that they don’t really have choices,” she explains. “The issue I’m trying to solve is for a diverse group of students to believe that they can make a difference in their community.”

Using the First Book Marketplace, Lori and her class chose to read books about young people who did something to change the world — books with diverse characters that each student could identify with. Through stories, Lori’s students have begun to understand that they too can make a difference.

From here, Lori plans to narrow the focus onto the issue of improving working conditions. Students will interview custodians, secretaries, and cafeteria workers in their school to understand what their working conditions are like and ask the all-important question: what can we, as middle schoolers, do to make your working conditions better?

claudine-quote_editMeanwhile in Malvern, Arkansas, middle school English teacher Claudine James has used the Citizen Power Project to improve upon an already successful program. In 2011, Claudine visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and wanted to bring that experience back to her students.

That year her class studied the Holocaust and put together their own Holocaust Museum in their school and opened it to the public.

The reaction to the museum was something Claudine never expected.

“It was very well received by the community and in fact, we had an opening day reception on a Sunday afternoon and there was no room to even stand.”

Claudine has organized project-based learning initiatives like this every year since. The Malvern community has embraced them, and even come to expect them.

This year, powered by the  Citizen Power Project, Claudine and her class are planning an exhibit called, ‘Writers from Around the World’. They are reading books by authors from all over the globe. Her goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among her students and for them to promote those ideas to the community.

“When my students are presented with problems that other people from other cultures have to overcome, they see the world in a new light,” explains Claudine, “then they go home and spread the word.”

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Artwork by one student in Racheal’s class depicting the negative impacts of climate change.

In Newark, New Jersey, kindergarten teacher Racheal Safier has her young students thinking globally. “We wanted to figure out what climate change is,” she explains, “they took a really big interest in how global warming affects animals.”

Racheal has been amazed by her student’s enthusiasm for this topic and the project, but she knows where it comes from. “Books have been the launching point for so many of the ideas generated in my classroom.”

Now that ideas are being launched, Racheal wants to show her class the next step: what actions do we take?

And they have many planned. There will be brochures distributed to parents, a table at the school’s social justice fair, maybe a video, and even letters to the President.

“I want it to be their project — and some of the things they come up with, I am really blown away.”

These three projects are just a snapshot of all the important work educators are doing around the country for the Citizen Power Project. Lori, Claudine, and Racheal are shining examples of the impact that educators can have on their students and their communities.

For educators to create change though students they need access to educational resources. First Book is proud to help provide that access for the Citizen Power Project.

When these 15 projects are completed in early 2017 be sure to check the First Book blog to see videos and pictures, and read more impact stories of impact from across the United States.

 

If you’re an educator serving kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to register and browse our collection of educational resources. Click here to learn more about the Citizen Power Project.

The post Changing Communities with Books: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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2. How One College Student is Making an Impact in Her Community

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When Janessa Blythe discovered through a college leadership course that kids in her Waco, Texas community didn’t have access to books, she decided to act.

The junior at Baylor University is launching Waco Up & Read, a program that provides books for kids from low-income communities. “It appalled me that kids didn’t have access to stories and didn’t have access to books in general,” says Janessa, “that sent me on a little bit of a journey — what can I do about this?”

Janessa’s book drive provided each kid at Restoration Haven, a Waco community support organization, with eight books to call their own. For many, those books make up their entire home libraries. Working with Restoration Haven, Janessa is planning to provide more books through a pilot program, and establish Waco Up & Read as a nonprofit.

Her plans are ambitious, but Janessa understands the kind of impact that books can have.

janessa-blythe-2“Stories teach kids that when hard times come, or you hit a brick wall in life, that you can break through – that is a major matter you see in good stories.”

And exposing kids to good stories is important to Waco Up & Read. Janessa plans to use the First Book Marketplace to give kids access to rich and varied content.

“Obviously that includes classic children’s books, but in general I’m looking for books that teach virtue, teach empathy, that teach human issues.”

To do that though, Janessa will need to raise money for Waco Up & Read. One way she is doing that is through First Book campaigns, which makes the fundraising process simple and easy.

All across the country kids in need lack access to books and stories, but the kids in Waco communities have a champion in Janessa. Book drives, fundraising, and eventually a nonprofit organization – that can seem like a lot for a college student but it’s as simple as identifying a need, and meeting it.

And that is something we are all capable of.

 

If you serve kids in need, please visit the First Book Marketplace to explore our variety of educational resources. To raise money and make an impact in your community, start a First Book campaign to provide books to kids in need.

The post How One College Student is Making an Impact in Her Community appeared first on First Book Blog.

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3. ‘Link to Libraries’ Connects Education With Basic Needs

Since 2008, nonprofit organization Link to Libraries has served kids in need all across Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. President and Co-Founder Susan Jaye-Kaplan helped start the organization to give kids opportunities to explore our world through books and expand their horizons.

Recently it has become so much more.

Link to Libraries is making use of the basic needs items on the First Book Marketplace and supporting kids beyond providing access to books.

“Link to Libraries is known primarily as a book donation and distribution organization,” says Susan, “but we give far more to our target audience — students in need. We distribute combs, dental hygiene kits, bilingual bookmarks, and more.”

Link to LibrariesThough books and educational materials are important, basic needs items are also essential for students if they hope to make the most of their education.

One student who participates with Link to Libraries had to miss time at school because of dental surgery, time that can be critical to their development.

“The fact is, this child’s teeth impacted their ability to go to school and learn. If they had had all the dental care products they needed, maybe this doesn’t happen” says Susan.

The basic needs items available through the First Book Marketplace all have an effect on a child’s education. Coats are essential for getting to and from school during winter months. Non-perishable food items prevent kids from losing focus when they get hungry. New t-shirts mean children can play during recess and not worry about a stretch here or a stain there.

Susan knows just how far these kinds of items can go for a child in need. She grew up in a difficult environment and situation herself. She wants to pay forward the kindness that she received as a child growing up in Boston.

“I was fortunate to have had Mrs. Bolton, an assistant librarian at the Boston Public Library, as a child,” Susan, now in her 70s, recalls, “she would bring me all the new books that came into the children’s room and on occasion an apple or carton of milk. My siblings and I sat there after school for many years as it was a safe and warm place to go. We were able to travel the world by reading those wonderful books and yet we never left that couch in the library.”

Thanks to Link to Libraries, many kids will see the world through books and have everything they need for the adventure.

Susan and Link to Libraries are doing impactful work using basic needs items and if you serve children in need, you can too. Please visit the basic needs section of the First Book Marketplace to learn more.

The post ‘Link to Libraries’ Connects Education With Basic Needs appeared first on First Book Blog.

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4. All Roads Lead to Learning with Pathway to K

With a waiting list of more than 400 students, Vanessa Osbourne knew she needed to offer another option for the kids who weren’t going to be able to participate in the pre-kindergarten program.

Daniel Dominguez-Carmona shows the actions of a dragonfly to WSFCS Ready Schools Coordinator Eva Phillips in his “Pathway to K” classroom. Image via Winston-Salem Journal.

“We wanted to make sure that if those kids didn’t get a Pre-K experience that we offer something for them before school started,” said Osbourne, program coordinator for Winston-Salem, Forsyth County Schools.

Osbourne developed Pathway to K, a three-week course at the end of the summer designed to prepare kids who wouldn’t otherwise participate in Pre-K for kindergarten and introduce them to the kinds of activities they’ll be doing in school.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Pathway to K is able to access the First Book Marketplace and all that it has to offer. Each classroom has multiple sets of diverse books that aim to reach each and every child. When the program has parent engagement nights, kids and their guardians receive a brand new, high-quality book to take home.

Some of the parents or guardians participating in Pathway to K work multiple jobs and are striving every day to provide opportunities for their children, and it’s not always easy. The opportunity to participate in a kindergarten readiness program is huge for many families.

“We had a grandmother who was so excited when her grandson got in to Pathway to K,” Vanessa said. “She acted like it was a college application. When we told her, ‘Of course he got in,’ she ran around shouting, ‘He got in! He got in!’”

A program like Pathway to K is worth getting excited about. Vanessa uses her 30 years of experience in education to make sure each child is getting a well-rounded experience. During the three-week program children are introduced to books, practice counting and sorting and learn social and emotional skills.

But there is one thing that Vanessa hopes Pathway to K can instill in its tiny participants.

“Building that love of reading.”

Pathway to K was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your organization through the First Book Marketplace.

The post All Roads Lead to Learning with Pathway to K appeared first on First Book Blog.

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5. How Books Inspire Action: The Citizen Power Project

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All too often, young people feel they don’t have the power to fix problems in their communities.

How can books inspire students to take action and become engaged citizens?

Earlier this year, First Book, along with our partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute, presented educators nationwide with a challenge: identify an issue and a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community. We then asked for proposals on how, with the support of books and resources from First Book, could their students take action to address that issue and show their students that they have a voice and the ability to make positive changes happen.

We called this challenge The Citizen Power Project. Funded by the Aspen Institute’s Pluribus Project, 15 proposals  – five each from elementary, middle and high schools – would be chosen to receive a collection of special resources to help them implement their projects and a $500 grant for use on the First Book Marketplace.

More than 920 proposals were received.

The 15 classroom projects that stood out and won the challenge addressed a wide range of issues, such as:

  • Learning about global cultural perspectives as a way to build compassion,
  • Planning a community garden to promote healthy eating,
  • Combating bullying,
  • Learning American Sign Language and
  • Building a health and wellness library.

We believe these projects, and the books and resources First Book will provide to help them flourish, will help these educators and the young leaders they teach to advance the causes they are so passionate about. And, by sharing stories about the successes of these projects, we hope to inspire others around the country to be change makers, themselves.

With our partners, we’ll be checking in with the inspiring projects through the end of the year to update you on their progress toward creating innovative learning environments, and the impact of the projects on their respective communities.

Stay tuned for more about the Citizen Power Challenge winners! Read more about the Citizen Power Challenge here.

The post How Books Inspire Action: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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6. How Books Inspire Action: The Citizen Power Project

firstbook-tampa-99

All too often, young people feel they don’t have the power to fix problems in their communities.

How can books inspire students to take action and become engaged citizens?

Earlier this year, First Book, along with our partners the American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute, presented educators nationwide with a challenge: identify an issue and a civic engagement project important to their students, school or community. We then asked for proposals on how, with the support of books and resources from First Book, could their students take action to address that issue and show their students that they have a voice and the ability to make positive changes happen.

We called this challenge The Citizen Power Project. Funded by the Aspen Institute’s Pluribus Project, 15 proposals  – five each from elementary, middle and high schools – would be chosen to receive a collection of special resources to help them implement their projects and a $500 grant for use on the First Book Marketplace.

More than 920 proposals were received.

The 15 classroom projects that stood out and won the challenge addressed a wide range of issues, such as:

  • Learning about global cultural perspectives as a way to build compassion,
  • Planning a community garden to promote healthy eating,
  • Combating bullying,
  • Learning American Sign Language and
  • Building a health and wellness library.

We believe these projects, and the books and resources First Book will provide to help them flourish, will help these educators and the young leaders they teach to advance the causes they are so passionate about. And, by sharing stories about the successes of these projects, we hope to inspire others around the country to be change makers, themselves.

With our partners, we’ll be checking in with the inspiring projects through the end of the year to update you on their progress toward creating innovative learning environments, and the impact of the projects on their respective communities.

Stay tuned for more about the Citizen Power Challenge winners! Read more about the Citizen Power Challenge here.

The post How Books Inspire Action: The Citizen Power Project appeared first on First Book Blog.

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7. 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.

The post A Simple Bag of Books Can Help Beat Summer Slide appeared first on First Book Blog.

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8. This is a Life He Never Imagined

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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.”

The post This is a Life He Never Imagined appeared first on First Book Blog.

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9. 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.

The post This Girl Wrote One Email to Help Kids in Need appeared first on First Book Blog.

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10. 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.

The post One Fan’s Campaign to Honor Her Favorite Book-Loving Celebrity appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. 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

The post Cathy Was My Best Friend. Here’s How I Honored Her. appeared first on First Book Blog.

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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.

The post One Campaign. A Lasting Culture of Reading. appeared first on First Book Blog.

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13. 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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14. 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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15. Feeling like They Belong

“I want my students to get the most out of life.  A student that can read can learn about anything.  All that they aspire to be is within a book’s reach – if they can get their hands on books.”

Linette Claudio works with over 300 bilingual students at McAuliffe Elementary School.  The students in the Bilingual Transition Program are taught in their native language and slowly transition to all English instruction by the 4th or 5th grade.  Their access to bilingual books is limited to Linette’s classroom library.  When they leave her classroom few, if any, have books they can read and understand.

“Any books that show Latino culture are useful.  Students can see themselves within and identify with the books,”  said Linette.  “Many of the students in our school have experienced a lot of change in a short amount of time.  They have to make new friends and switch schools often.  Many deal with serious issues on a daily basis.  Having bilingual books and stories that celebrate their culture make them feel like they belong.”

Each year, Linette spends anywhere from $800 to $2000 of her own money on books and supplies  to ensure her students have the tools they need to learn.   But the books she is able to buy affordably in retail stores are not often culturally relevant or bilingual.

Recently, Linette purchased books from the First Book’s Latino Culture Collection.  The books were bilingual, culturally relevant, age appropriate and cost just $3.50 on average.  Her students can’t get enough.

“Last year one student would read every new book I would bring in.    This year, he came to me looking for help finding books in a higher level.  He is now reading transitional chapter books as a first grader.  I’m so glad I have more books to give him,”  Linette explains.

The post Feeling like They Belong appeared first on First Book Blog.

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16. When You Open A Book For a Baby

Today’s guest blogger is Ginger Young, Executive Director of Book Harvest. Book Harvest is a nonprofit in Durham, NC that runs the Book Babies program, providing 10 brand-new books every six months to babies from birth to to age five.

JesusR2When you open a book for a baby, their eyes light up. They’re fascinated by the contrast of the colors. They marvel at words as you read to them.

What these little ones don’t know is that books will also shape their future.

I started Book Babies to help families in our community who didn’t have books. Today we serve 150 families. All of them have big dreams for their children.

Our books empower parents to change the path of their child’s life in ways they’ve never imagined.

Ginger QuoteTake 18-month old Ian and his mom for example. Every morning, Ian wakes his mom before sunrise with a new book in his hand for them to read together. Though it’s earlier than she’d like, reading has become a fantastic way for them to connect and start every day.

Before they joined Book Babies, there were no books in their home. They now have over 30.

This holiday season please donate to First Book and give the hope of a bright future to babies and their families.

The post When You Open A Book For a Baby appeared first on First Book Blog.

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17. How One Shy Girl Found Friends Through Books

We recently met Victoria Hammond, a Program Coordinator at Linwood YMCA in Kansas City. She told us about Leigh, a particularly shy girl in her afterschool program who found confidence and friends through reading.

Victoria noticed that she played alone and didn’t have the self-esteem to introduce herself to the other kids.

One day Leigh approached Victoria and quietly asked, “Can we read together?”

Untitled-2After reading together for a few days, other kids began to join them. Victoria saw a spark in the timid girl. Leigh started to feel comfortable, trusting Victoria and the other students.

During playtime, Victoria now watches as Leigh and her friends choose books over other toys. They’ve even started their own reading group.

Every day, books from First Book are transforming the lives of kids in need.

If you serve children in need, you can access books, school supplies and other essentials to help kids learn. Sign up with First Book today!

The post How One Shy Girl Found Friends Through Books appeared first on First Book Blog.

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18. An Educator’s Campaign to Revitalize Her Library

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When Vanessa Cadena entered the library at Bret Harte Middle School this school year, she knew she had a big job ahead of her.

It was Vanessa’s first year at the school and the library had not been updated in almost twenty years. Full of damaged and outdated books, Vanessa saw the reluctance on the kids’ faces when they left the library with books they didn’t want to read.

“It was a space that was defined by a vast collection of outdated and tattered books, technology and furniture. It begged to be pumped with vitality again,” said Vanessa, the Library Media Specialist for the school.

To create the library her students needed, Vanessa needed some help.  She started a First Book Fundly campaign with the goal to raise $1,000 to invigorate the shelves.  She reached out to the PTA at both her school and the elementary schools whose students would be attending Bret Harte in the future. She spread the word via social media, faculty, friends, the local public library and the closest books hop. She even enlisted the help of an intern to pass out flyers promoting the campaign.

index1When she not only met, but exceeded her goal, Vanessa was ecstatic – and so were her 7th and 8th graders. With the money raised, Vanessa was able to add 350 books to her library. This year alone she has purchased 1,000 brand-new books from First Book to revitalize the collection.

It’s made an immense difference in the reading habits of her middle schoolers.

Now, Vanessa has “regulars.” She can’t keep fiction and graphic novels in stock and students race to library to see her new arrival section. When the kids take home a book, they usually finish it by the next day.

“Kids are excited to read,” Vanessa explains. “The teachers have told me this is the first year they could send their students to the library and every single student comes out with a book – and it’s a book they are reading and excited about.”

Want to bring books to your school or program, or one in your community? Visit www.firstbook.fundly.com to start a campaign.

The post An Educator’s Campaign to Revitalize Her Library appeared first on First Book Blog.

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19. How Arts & Crafts Created a Space to Talk and Heal

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Today’s guest blogger is Emily Townsend, an Elementary School Counselor at Lowrie Primary School in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Last year I worked daily with a fourth grade student whose father passed away right before Christmas break. He grieved mostly internally, and became increasingly distant, disengaged, and behind in school.

After feeling like I had tried almost all the tools in my toolbox, I remember setting a velvet poster in front of him – one of the Melissa & Doug Sea Life Reveal posters I purchased from First Book.

I think I was hoping for a calm moment when we could both color and just spend some no-pressure time together being mindful. Although this student had never mentioned any affinity or affection for art, as soon as he picked up the markers to begin filling in the poster he started talking about his father and his feelings for the first time ever at school.

He and I made paper airplanes, learned how to draw jungle animals using the Kids Art Series: How to Draw book I ordered from First Book, and made intricate tangles of doodles while looking at the Draw What! Doodling Book I received in the same order. And he talked. And eventually started feeling better.

The post How Arts & Crafts Created a Space to Talk and Heal appeared first on First Book Blog.

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20. Books Gave Him A Sense of Home – Even When He Didn’t Have One

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Today’s guess blogger is Melissa Spradlin, Executive Director of Book’em in Nashville, TN.

I want to tell you about Ben.

From our first meeting, Ben had an extraordinary connection with books. Every time we met to read together, he chose one to keep. He was exceptionally grateful for each one. I could tell the books had a special effect on him.

Ben’s family was homeless. They had been evicted from their home. Sometimes they lived with relatives, sometimes in a shelter.

Ben kept all of his belongings in his backpack, including his books. He carried them with him everywhere he went. He treasured his books – they were among his few possessions. The sturdy spines and crisp pages gave him a sense of home, even when he didn’t have one.

There are so many kids like Ben who cherish the books they receive from First Book. They rely on them as familiar friends during tough times.

If you work with children in need, you can find books and essentials for your students on the First Book Marketplace.

The post Books Gave Him A Sense of Home – Even When He Didn’t Have One appeared first on First Book Blog.

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21. Watch What Happens: Kids Pick out Books for Summer Reading

“This is the best day I’ve ever had!”
“This is the book I’ve always been looking for!”

These are the typical responses heard when Book Harvest comes to a school with their Books on Break program.

Book Harvest seeks to address periods of vulnerability in a child’s literacy development by ensuring books are easily accessible. Summer is one of the most challenging times to keep kids’ reading skills on track.

Once a year, Book Harvest takes over school libraries throughout Durham, North Carolina and covers every surface of the library with books. Each child is given a string backpack preloaded with information for parents about the program. It even includes an invitation for the students to come back over the summer and choose more books.

The children explore the variety of books in the library, filling their backpacks with ten books to take home and read over the summer.

Watch what happens when they pick out their books to take home for summer reading:

The post Watch What Happens: Kids Pick out Books for Summer Reading appeared first on First Book Blog.

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22. 770 Pounds of Dreams for His Students

FirstBook at Mary Bethune Elementary School, Atlanta, Georgia

It started with one spelling word. “Beach.”

Malik Ray, a first-time second grade teacher in Atlanta, GA, taught his students their new spelling words by projecting a photo and having students guess the word before putting it in their notebooks.

On this day, Malik displayed a photo of the sand, a palm tree, a little beach ball and the ocean. The classroom went silent. Not one student guessed the word.

They couldn’t recognize the sand; they didn’t know the water was the ocean. They had never seen a tree with what they called “arms.” They did recognize the ball.

This was when Malik realized that his students had never seen a beach. They had never been outside of the Vine City neighborhood where they resided. His students didn’t have what Malik calls “vision” – the ability to see past where they are now and imagine a different life.

But when 770 pounds of books from First Book arrived at their school, that changed.

Malik classroom photo“When the books arrived, I thought, ‘Here are 770 pounds of experience for your children. They are going to dream 770 pounds of dreams,’” says Malik.

Now when they read about faraway places and unfamiliar characters, they ask questions like “How is her hair that way?” “Why do their parents do that when mine do this?”

Students that were reading at a pre-k level when they entered his classroom are now reading chapter books. Their reading assessment scores have improved. They are ready to enter third grade.

And they’ve started to dream.

“We’ve starting to talk about their future in a whole new way,” explains Malik. “Rather than saying ‘I want to be a beautician like my aunt,’ we talk about owning a beauty salon. I want them to be able to dream. These books have given my kids hope.”

Malik Ray’s classroom was able to receive books through First Book’s partnership with Wipro Ltd., a global information technology, consulting and business process services company. If you work with children in need, you can access books and resources for your classroom through the First Book Marketplace.

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