Thinking Green


Get your kid in gear for Earth Day on April 22 with these “green” reads from our 2014 Multicultural Book Collection. Some of the books feature activities that are sure to inspire the nature-lover in your young reader.

the barefoot book of earth tales The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales by Dawn Casey, Anne Wilson (Illustrator)  — Travel around the world with folktales about living in harmony with nature. Each story comes with an activity, like making a cornhusk doll or a mini water garden.
beetle book The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins — Did you know that one out of every four living things on earth is a beetle? Find out more fascinating facts about the world of beetles in this beautifully illustrated book.
the eye of the whale The Eye of a Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O’Connell — This true tale of an extraordinary whale reminds us of the unique connections we have with animals and the importance of caring for their habitats.
parrots over puerto rico Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth, Cindy Trumbore — Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home.  These are Puerto Rican parrots. Learn how this special species was saved from the brink of extinction.
patchwork garden The Patchwork Garden by Diane De Anda — Toña wants to grow vegetables the way her abuela did when she was little, but has to get creative since her city apartment is surrounded by cement.
track the scat Track that Scat! by Lisa Morlock, Carrie Anne Bradshaw — Finn heads out for a walk in her brand new shoes, only to step in scat…again and again! This story is sure to get lots of giggles, while learning scat facts for different animals.

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Whether you’ll be joining us next month in Washington, D.C. at RIF’s 2014 Cat in the Hat Gala or not, you can already get in on the fun — our gala auction is now open! Register online and bid on one-of-a-kind items today.

RIF’s auction is known for the original artwork created and donated by well-known children’s illustrators. Illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi worked with his six-year-old daughter, Sophia, to create his original painting for this year’s gala. See their process below, and their mention in last week’s Publishers Weekly.

This year, you can also bid on unique experiences and vacations, sports memorabilia, and rare, collectible Dr. Seuss artwork. Click to see all the fantastic items we have for you this year. Bidding will remain open until 8:30pm on April 24, the evening of the gala, and winners will be posted on our website the following day. Happy bidding, Book People!

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We hope you’re as excited as we are for RIF’s 2014 Cat in the Hat Gala! Today, we had an extra special treat when the CAT IN THE HAT visited our office in person to draw the winners of our photo contest!

Watch the video to see who won, then check out some of our favorite photo submissions from RIF coordinators across the country.

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High Honors


Meet the 2014 Anne Hazard Richardson RIF Volunteers of the Year! Each of these amazing book people have had an impact on thousands of children and their families. They’ve brought delight and discovery to children with their dedication to the love of reading.

Mary-Ellen-Cravotta_please-cropMary Ellen Cravotta of Fort Bragg, NC
Elementary Librarian at Irwin Intermediate School

Mary Ellen knows how to make RIF events magical and memorable by involving the entire community at one the largest military bases in the U.S.— students, teachers, parents, soldiers, and commanders feel the joy!

“RIF helps kids realize books are great, that they make all the difference in their world,” says Mary Ellen. “My mission is to build a culture of reading with children and parents. In order to do that, I need lots of exciting reading activities. RIF has just been perfect for that.”


Ramon-Gonzalez-head-shot2Ramon Gonzalez of New York, NY
Assistant Director, St. Aloysius Education Clinic

Ramon has loved RIF since he was seven. That’s when he appeared in one of the first RIF public service announcements and helped collect 1,000 pounds of aluminum to raise money to buy books.

Now, nearly four decades later, his passion to nurture young readers has led to his current role helping to serve 2000 children in seven different schools and a summer program.

“We are improving the greater Harlem community,” says Ramon. “Those who couldn’t read can now read. Kids we give books to tell us they want to stay in school and succeed. It definitely is a win.”


Leech-0172JoEllen Leech of Pittsburgh, PA
Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator

When JoEllen Leech joined RIF Pittsburgh in 2010, the organization had just adopted two programs after the close of another local children’s literacy group. It was JoEllen’s hard work, inspiration, and leadership that brought new life to those initiatives.

“We get hugs and happiness . . . the light in their eyes when they see us come. It’s a life-changing experience,” says JoEllen Having an opportunity to help children become readers really speaks to me.”

Celebrate with us!

The Volunteers of the Year Award winners will be recognized during RIF’s The Cat in the Hat Gala in Washington, D.C. on April 24. Get tickets and info.

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A Taste of History


As the heart of the home, the kitchen is that special place where family traditions and oral histories emanate like the wonderful aroma of baking bread. The beauty of families in the kitchen is that it’s the place we all have time to talk—parents and children, grandparents and guests—we talk about family, about traditions, about times now and times past. We laugh and we cry, but we tell stories as we prepare and eat food.

Oral histories provide the richest literacy experiences we can share with our children. While creating deeper connections with family and baking in sweet memories, simply talking increases vocabulary and strengthens oral language skills in children.

So let’s get cooking– and talking! What are your favorite family recipes? Black History Month and Valentine’s Day are the perfect time to pass the culinary love through the family.

tea cakes for toshIf you don’t have a favorite, check out Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons, a delicious read from our newest multicultural book collection that tells the story of a family recipe passed down from before the days of Emancipation, yet as important today as then. The story behind grandma’s tea cake recipe is recounted from generation to generation. It’s a tradition every family can relate to.

My mother always made Swedish Spritz Valentine’s cookies with her little cookie press. My sisters and I helped her decorate them, eating as many as we decorated. To this day, every single Valentine’s, my daughter and I do the same thing. Enjoy!

Swedish Spritz Cookies
1 1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 t almond
4 c sifted all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder

Thoroughly cream butter and sugar
Add egg vanilla and almond; beat well
Sift flour and baking powder togeher; add to creamed mixture, mix unitl smooth
Force cookie through a cookie press on an ungreased cookie sheet
Decorate with whatever you like
Bake at 400 for 7-8 minutes
Cool on rack; decorate with powedered sugar icing if desired.

Swedish Spritz








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Inspired Reading


How are your New Year’s resolutions going? We’ve teamed up with Gerber Life Insurance Company to give you an extra boost of inspiration.

Check out the Inspired Reading Giveaway now live on Facebook. Each day for the next 30 days we’re posting inspiring quotes to unite book lovers nationwide.  To join in,  take our Book People Unite pledge.

For every pledge, Gerber Life will donate a book to a child in need, with a goal of reaching 10,000 books — AND you’ll be entered to win a $10,000 College Plan. Pledge to Win! 

Don’t forget to share the inspiration with your friends so they can join too. Let’s resolve together to get more kids reading in 2014!




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Scrumptious Books

bookpie-David Malan

Whether you’re on the resolution train or not, having a healthy mind and body is likely at the top of your “important” list no matter the year! Here are 5 healthy reads for the little ones.

eating the alphabet While teaching upper- and lowercase letters to preschoolers, Ehlert introduces fruits and vegetables from around the world.
sopadefrijoles_bean soup This delightful poem teaches readers young and old how to make a heartwarming, tummy-filling black bean soup, from gathering the beans, onions, and garlic to taking little pebbles out of the beans to letting them simmer till the luscious smell indicates it’s time for supper.
i will never not ever eat a tomato Lola is a fussy eater. A very fussy eater. There are many things Lola won’t eat, including – and especially – tomatoes. Or will she? Two endearing siblings star in a witty story about the triumph of
grandpas garden This beautifully told story follows Billy from early spring to late summer as he helps his grandpa on his vegetable patch. When harvest time arrives they can pick all the vegetables and fruit they have grown.
the vegetables we eat Who knew there were so many different kinds of vegetables? From glossy red peppers to lush, leafy greens to plump orange pumpkins, vegetables are explored in depth — the many vegetable varieties, how they are grown, and why they are so good for us to eat.

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Happy 2014!


Happy 2014! Thanks to your generous support this holiday season, over 200,000 children will receive books to keep and cherish. We are grateful and so are they. These thank-you notes from RIF kids are sure to warm your heart.

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Mission Forward

RIF Kids

Book People, thank you for believing in the power of reading… for giving children the chance to explore new worlds, dream big, and achieve their full potential.

All year long, you gave us the power to move our mission forward. This holiday season, you will be filled with joy to know that we gave 3.3 MILLION BOOKS to children in underserved communities across U.S.!

And, we didn’t just stop there. Just take a look at our 2013 highlights— remarkable achievements made possible by your love of RIF and reading:

  • A world view — We distributed over 3,000 sets of our newly released Multicultural Book Collection, featuring 40 award-winning books to excite kids about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) through stories and characters from around the world.
  • Digital frontier — We released Our Book and Water Wonders, our first eBook apps, to provide kids with anytime, anywhere access to immersive reading experiences.
  • Finding what works — With the help of the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, we began a multi-year research study in 15 states to combat summer reading loss among children living in poverty.
  • Supporting military families — This spring, we welcomed 350 military families at Ft. Bragg, one of the largest and busiest military complexes in the world. One father gave a heartfelt reading of A Paper Hug, a book about a little boy who thinks of a special gift to give his dad who is being deployed to serve his country.
  • Special delivery — We sent extra special love and 9,500 books to children in Oklahoma cities devastated by massive tornadoes.
  • Major milestone — We celebrated 10 years of partnership with Macy’s, the nation’s largest department store and our largest corporate supporter. And we achieved our biggest milestone to date – raising enough funds throughout our partnership to give 10 million books to kids.

While the scope of this work is nothing short of fantastic — there are millions more children eagerly awaiting books to keep and cherish for their entire lives. With your continued support, we can reach them. Mission forward, together!

BTW, a donation to RIF today through Dec. 31. will be doubled. Double Books. Double Joy.

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Book Gifting

Book Gift

A book is real, personal, comforting, and lasts forever in our minds and hearts after it’s read. This is what makes a book the perfect gift for the special someone’s in your life, young or old. But, how do you know what book to get? Never fear, our top five tips will help you pick the perfect page-turner.

  • Think about topics and hobbies they absolutely love!
  • Check bookstores (local and online) to see if they have a wish list
  • The classics are forever classic. And, they’ve been updated with some of the most beautiful covers you’ve ever seen.
  • Friends trust friends. Choose one of your favorites and pen a personal note inside.
  • A book store gift card is always welcome. No gift receipt needed.

Special reads for the little ones —This time of year, “best of” booklists pop up all over the internet. Here’s a shortcut to the best of the best children’s books of 2013.


2013 Newbery Medal Winner:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate2013 Newbery Honor Books:

  • Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, published by Candlewick Press
  • Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
 2013 Caldecott Medal Winner:
This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

2013 Caldecott Honor Books:

  • Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
  • Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
  • Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue

Book wrapping— Surely, you’ve received a present that was wrapped ever so beautifully that you gently peeled off the tape and unfolded the paper to preserve all the loveliness. It’s a moment we all treasure when giving and receiving gifts. So here are some inspiring ideas that will turn an ordinary book into an extra-ordinary treasure. They also meet our criteria: simple supplies, super easy, and oh-so cute.

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