Next to the candy, the fun of Halloween is all in dressing up. For kids and grown-ups alike, Halloween is a day to try on a different or future life—or simply get goofy. Here are some ideas for easy costumes inspired by great kids’ books. Read the book before making the costume to familiarize your child with the story line and get them excited; then, read it again in character for the full experience.
It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Loretta A. Barrett, a founding member of RIF and president of Loretta Barrett Books Inc. Loretta served as Secretary of the Board and as a member of the Executive Committee from 2009 to 2013.
Before embarking on her successful publishing career, Loretta taught in a Philadelphia high school where she saw first-hand the need for interesting, high-quality reading materials. When RIF founder Margy McNamara approached Loretta in her position as an editor at Doubleday & Company, Loretta immediately perceived the value of RIF’s mission and leapt at the opportunity to persuade publishers to offer book discounts to RIF.
Loretta brought tremendous passion and drive to the organization for nearly 50 years, always keeping at the forefront the goal of better books for children. Margy McNamara Pastor, daughter of RIF founder Margy McNamara, recalls Loretta as “a woman who enhanced thousands of children’s lives. She was one of those special people that enrich all of us.”
A mass will be held at 10am on Tuesday morning, October 14, at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, 46th West 16th Street, New York, NY and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, it was Loretta’s wish that memorial gifts be made to Reading Is
What’s on Principal Steve Carroll’s schedule? In between the work that keeps every principal busy, he also has harvesting peppers with the kids penned into his calendar — and that’s an appointment he’s not going to miss.
This is all happening at Southside Elementary in rural Lee County, Kentucky. Southside serves 200 children, 86% of whom qualify for free and reduced lunches, and is one of the 173 schools participating in our Summer Reading Success program. Through partnerships with the local 4-H and the University of Kentucky, Southside students are also involved in two programs that allow them to see first-hand how food is cultivated and where it comes from. And now their teachers are connecting these lessons to math, science, and reading using their RIF books.
Teachers across the country are doing more than we could have imagined to engage kids in learning using the tools we’ve given them. We’ve talked a bit about our Summer Reading Success program and the elements that make it unique and effective: resources for parents, trainings for teachers, multicultural book collections for 2,800 classrooms, and, of course, tables full of books for kids to choose from and keep for themselves. But there’s even more than that going on in these schools.
On Southside’s campus, elementary school students are growing cherry tomatoes and peppers right outside the cafeteria window, then learning to make salsa with them and seeing their very own veggies appear in the lunch line. Parents are getting involved, too. After all, “When you’ve got thirty kindergarteners making salsa, a few extra hands are always good!” Principal Carroll told us, laughing.
The second program, part of a research project by the University of Kentucky, is connecting the school to local farmers and their goods. Following from the idea that children who understand where their food comes from will eat more of it, the project involves filling the cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, as well as taking students out to visit the farms where their food is grown.
And it doesn’t end there. Southside teachers have taken the opportunity to bridge these programs with other areas of learning using the multicultural collections we’ve given them. Books like No Monkeys No Chocolate, First Peas to the Table, The Patchwork Garden, How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?, and Grandpa’s Garden all include themes of gardening, nutrition, and eating food you’ve grown yourself. Using our activities, students learn about growing food before their trips and harvests, and can practice math skills of measuring and estimating, all while strengthening their reading skills. If you’re gardening with your little one, you can do the same thing! Download our activity sheets to use with the books for related vocabulary, math exercises, and questions to get kids really thinking, and stay tuned for more ideas on how to use children’s books to teach content and keep it fun!
Having reached a significant milestone in our partnership with Kappa Kappa Gamma as their national philanthropy, it seems like a good time to take a moment to say, “Thank you, Kappas!” Thank you for your commitment to the RIF mission of putting books into the hands of underserved children. Thank you for the critical role you play as volunteers and fundraisers. Thank you for a 10-year partnership that we know is making a difference for students nationwide.
Next month, we’re honoring Kappa Kappa Gamma as RIF’s October Donor of the Month for all that the organization and its members do to bring the joy of reading to children. We know that Kappas are holding fun-filled “Reading Is Key” events at local programs where they inspire children to become the next generation of book people. Kappas have helped raise more than $435,000 – that’s 174,000 BOOKS! – for RIF National during our partnership, above and beyond funds raised for local RIF programs.
This summer, we had a blast joining the Kappas at Convention in Houston where we had the opportunity to celebrate this milestone, discuss the impact of Kappas’ philanthropy work, and launch a great new set of tools: a Kappa-inspired RIF book collection, book pack, and literacy activity sheet! Representing core Kappa values from friendship to community service, these resources are an exciting new way for Kappas to support RIF programs.
Thanks again to our great literacy partners at Kappa Kappa Gamma!
This summer, we partnered with 21 Boys and Girls Clubs in Delaware for an eight-week summer reading program serving 1,515 children!
Through a research project, we were able to donate 8,800 books and activities. A Summer Reading Kick-Off featured parent and community volunteers to read with and to children, with Sallie Mae volunteers reading to children during the week-long kick off from May 12 to May 16. These pictures were taken at the Dagsboro Boys and Girls Club back-to-school RIF celebration, featuring Betty Harmon’s team of 250 kids from Rehoboth Beach, Oak Orchard, Georgetown, and Dagsboro clubs. Each child received a RIF bag, a t-shirt, and, of course, BOOKS!
Anthony Boswell, Chief Operating Officer of Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware noted, “Research clearly indicates that when kids don’t read appropriately leveled books over the summer months, they can lose comprehension skills. I am excited that we can help our kids improve their reading. This is one of the best things we can do to improve their future opportunities.”
Because children often associate reading with school and work, a major goal was to encourage the children to enjoy reading, and to spark an interest the information within the covers of a book. Parents, very supportive from the beginning, were eager for this kind of addition to the Boys and Girls Club programming!
September 15 to October 15 marks a month to recognize and celebrate the cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors hail from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain. Be sure to look into local events or exhibits by museums and libraries near you for different ways to engage the children in your life. We’ve also collected some of our favorite reads for learning about Latin American food, art, writing, and history:
|Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Que rico! Americas’ Sproutings by Pat Mora, Rafael López (illustrator) – Bright, energetic illustrations and clever food haikus guide you on a culinary tour of the Americas.|
|El Fandango de Lola by Anna Witte, Micha Archer (illustrator) – Lola wants to learn to dance flamenco like her mom used to, so Papi starts giving her secret lessons. Can she practice enough to surprise Mami on her birthday? (en español)|
|Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh – Diego Rivera, one of the most famous painters of the twentieth century, was once just a boy who loved to draw and paint. What stories would he tell through his art if he were painting today?|
|Pelé, King of Soccer by Monica Brown, Rudy Gutiérrez (illustrator) – Does the soccer fan in your house know the story of Pelé, the King of Soccer? Even a poor boy with no sneakers and a grapefruit instead of a ball can become a hero – and did!|
|Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth, Cindy Trumbore – Through stunning collages, discover the fascinating history of Puerto Rico’s people and its rare parrots.|
|To Go Singing through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda by Deborah Kogan Ray – The story of Neruda’s childhood, mixed with excerpts from his own writing, weave together the tale of the shy boy who became one of Latin America’s most celebrated writers.|
|The Pot That Juan Built by Nancy Andrews-Goebel, David Diaz (illustrator) – Meet Juan Quezada, whose re-interpretation of traditional pottery transformed a poor Mexican village into a community of artists.|
|My Papa Diego and Me by Guadalupe Rivera Marín, Diego Rivera (artwork) – Diego Rivera’s daughter shares stories in English and Spanish about her childhood, her artist father, and the children in his paintings.|
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the loss of Arthur White, a founding member of RIF, social justice leader, and lifelong advocate for children and families.
In addition to co-founding RIF and serving as emeritus board member, Arthur founded Jobs for the Future, a non-profit focused on job education and training needs. As Educational Advisor to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, he was also successful in establishing the Connecting through Literacy: Inmates, Children, and Caregivers (CLICC) project in partnership with RIF. CT Appleseed-CLICC works to improve the literacy and family relationships for at-risk children who have a parent in prison. Read the New York Times obituary for more on his inspiring life.
A service will be held in Arthur’s memory on Sunday, August 31 at 11:00am, at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Rd, Stamford, Connecticut.
The White family asks that memorial gifts be made to CT Appleseed Connecting through Literacy: Inmates, Children, and Caregivers in Arthur’s honor.
As the summer winds down, kids are selecting their first-day-of-school outfits and preparing to board yellow buses. Since most children living in poverty have no books to call their own, some of their backpacks will be lighter than others. But we’re working to change that.
With your help, we can give twice the books to kids in need this back-to-school season.
Through September 30, when you give to RIF, Barnes & Noble College will double your gift up to $50,000. That means twice the journeys kids will go on through books, and twice the characters they’ll encounter. It could mean double the vocabulary they look up and learn, or the dreams they imagine for themselves after finishing a story.
So get in the spirit and help us send kids back to school with double the books this year.
For even more smiles, here are some stories about kids in classrooms that are sure to get your young one excited to head back to school: