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. rif.org/give
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:
| 2013 Caldecott Medal Winner:
This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
2013 Caldecott Honor Books:
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.
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve united with McDonald’s to share the joy of reading. From Nov. 1-14, McDonald’s will put one of four limited-edition books in every happy meal to the tune of 20,000,000 books!
And that’s not all! McDonald’s is giving 100,000 books to kids in RIF programs around the country (Awesome!). They have also collaborated with DK Publishing to give families anytime access to reading with a new interactive digital book to release each month through the end of 2014. The Happy Meal Books and the e-books, will also be available for download at HappyMeal.com. Spanish versions will be available on McDonalds.com and MeEncanta.com
Our President and CEO, Carol H. Rasco, said it best, “Books are essential for inspiring children to explore, dream and achieve, yet far too many children do not have this basic resource. To change this unfortunate reality, RIF is uniting with McDonald’s, a company that embraces the transformative power of books and is committed to helping families and communities thrive. Together, McDonald’s and RIF can truly help enrich kids’ lives through access to books and by putting the fun back into reading.”
Check out the books that will be in Happy Meals all over the country this November:
|Features Ant, a bite-sized bodybuilder who’s big on encouraging physical fitness through exercise and eating right.|
|Shares how Deana, the world’s smallest dinosaur, grew tall by eating right.|
|Tells of a goat who has a big appetite and struggles to eat right. But when he does, he feels great.|
|Follows happy-go-lucky bird Doddi who travels the world. She eats right because this dodo is always on the go-go.|
Meet Michelle Dennedy, a RIF kid that’s all grown up.
Growing up in the working-class neighborhood of Brook Park, Ohio, in the 1970s, Michele says she still remembers the RIF bookmobile. “It was the neighborhood ice cream truck,” said Michelle. “I was given The Velveteen Rabbit. I had never owned anything new before. When I held its fabric cover in my hands, I just thought this was the fanciest thing I had ever owned. The Velveteen Rabbit is my book.”
For Michelle, her RIF book became a theme for her life. “It talks about becoming real and believing in yourself. The Velveteen Rabbit actually becomes its dreams,” said Michelle. “It was a very powerful experience. Handing a book to a child is like handing them a journey—not just a toy.”
Michelle continued to believe in herself and worked hard to attend college. She attributes many of her undergraduate studies to discovering the scientific correlation to belief and transformation. “You become a different person when you believe in yourself,” said Michelle. “You can believe yourself into a better situation.”
Michelle went on to do just that. After going to law school at night, Michelle pursued a career as a patent litigator and is now the Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer at McAfee, Founder of The iDennedy Project and a proud parent.
“I still have my RIF book and my daughter now has it.” It seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them. That’s the passion behind RIF’s mission. Thank you for sharing your RIF story, Michelle. We believe!
This Halloween, let RIF help you find the right scary or silly literary treat for everyone on our kid friendly list of award-winning children’s books and our list of classic literary treasures and poems for your teens. They’ll be sure to put the “boo” back in books!
Award-Winning Children’s Books:
|Haunted casas, las brujas on broomsticks and carved calabazas. Los Gatos Black has everything you need to brush up on your Halloween Spanish vocabulary. We even found a narrated video for your whole family to read along to this Pura Belpré award-winning children’s book.|
|This bead illustrated children’s book is a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and is a great count-down read for Halloween. You may even learn some rhymes along the way.|
|This hilarious spoof on the counting classic Over in the Meadow includes two escaped convicts who get the creeps from a haunted house. What will they do? Find out in this IRA-CBC Children’s Book Choice Award read that’s funny any time of the year.|
|This intergenerational series is heartwarming and this story in particular is a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year. Gus wants an awesome Halloween costume but his mom won’t let him get a store bought costume. Find out what Gus and Grandpa come up with together!|
|Is your child afraid of the dark? This IRA-CBC Children’s Book Choice awarded story is meant to be read aloud and with Ted Rand’s stellar illustrations, the ghost-eye thee comes to life. Don’t let it reach out and grab you!|
|Looking for the right amount of sweet and scary for your kids this Halloween, look no further than Ghosts in the House! This American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and is about a clever little girl who has a real knack for taking care of ghosts in her haunted house.|
|Looking for a scary, funny and imaginative story? This New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year is a Roald Dahl classic about a seven-year-old boy who meets some real witches. Find out what makes a real witch and how this young boy tries to expose them with the help of his friends and a magical grandmother.|
Favorites and Classic Poems for Teens:
|The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving has scared many a child. That’s why we’ve put it on our teens list. Perhaps they won’t be so scared to turn the page.|
|What would you do if you feel asleep for 20 years only to wake up to find a changed world? Rip Van Winkle, also by Irving, illustrates a cautionary tale with beautiful illustrations and a captivating imagination.|
|“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the Highwayman came riding—riding—riding— The Highwayman came riding up to the old Inn door.” I still remember this eerie poem I was required to memorize in grade school, but now in after thought it stays with me as a quintessential piece of poetry for Halloween. Read The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes, learn about onomatopoeias and you won’t regret it.|
|The Pied Piper of Hamelin, by Robert Browning, sure knows how to take care of a few pests but what other things can he get rid of? The answer may scare you.|
|A Vagabond Song, by Bliss Carman describes autumn as a woman in this classic poem.|
|Theme in Yellow, by Carl Sandburg is yet another beautiful poetic ode to autumn.|
|Autumn, by Emily Dickinson, illustrates the changes of autumn much like that of a woman changing her wardrobe.|
|Mr. Spooky himself, Edgar Allen Poe, has some perfect pieces your kids can discover anew like The Tell-Tale Heart, or anything else by E.A. Poe—great time to read The Raven.|
We hope you and your little readers have a very happy Halloween!
Our good friend, award-winning author, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is on a multi-city tour to spread the news about the release of his latest children’s book, Sasquatch in the Paint, about a nerdy eighth-grader who grows so tall that a basketball coach is determined to turn him into a player.
He made two special stops this past week just for RIF at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina and Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. And wow, did he score big with the military families!
As soon as Kareem stepped into the building, parents and kids alike were in awe. He casually took center stage and opened up about his life and his passion behind writing his latest book.
At Ft. Bragg, where his father was once stationed, Kareem told children that they should follow their dreams — and not necessarily those of their peers.
“I just thought there is so much in popular culture that tells kids that if they’re going to be successful, it’s going to have to be in the field of sports or entertainment. And that if it’s not that, they’re not going to make it. Theo, the main character, is on the academic team. He’s smart. Books just don’t sit in the corner in his room. That was one message I want to get across. Being smart is cool.”
Well, his message sure did resonate. At Joint Base Andrews, a proud little girl named Anna jolted her hand in the air and exclaimed, “I’m a celebrity reader!” She then hopped up from her seat onto Kareem’s lap and asked the event photographer to take their picture. Now, that’s the confidence Kareem is inspiring kids to have.
Of course, the absolute best part of the event was the end when every child received a copy of Kareem’s book to keep and cherish!
We’d like to give an extra special thank you to all the amazing people at Ft. Bragg and Joint Base Andrews. You were awesome hosts! We are incredibly grateful to Kareem and the Skyhook Foundation for their support of RIF and commitment to improving literacy in underserved communities.
You can see all the action on our flickr photo gallery.
These two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Meet the Cowboy and the Octopus. A pair with some real flair.
I met them yesterday on a sunny afternoon at the National Book Festival on the National Mall.
This hilarious duo jumped right out of Jon Scieszka’s children’s book Cowboy and Octopus onto center stage at the “Literary Lights” Readers Theater.
With over-the-top and larger-than-life costumes (I might try to snag one for Halloween), these characters were brilliantly brought to life by RIF’s president and CEO, Carol H. Rasco, and former First Lady of Virginia, founding board member and Chairman Emeritus of RIF, Lynda Johnson Robb.
They served as Masters of Ceremonies during story book readings by former National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature–Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka–as well as award-winning authors Susan Cooper and Grace Lin. They also added a witty tête-à-tête between each story presented that were happily received by erupting laughter from the crowd.
Everyone surely had a blast.
For more highlights, check out the video I took of the hilarious reading “drama”.
A big round of applause goes to The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance and The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress for hosting the “Literary Lights” Readers Theater. And wow! There were over 600 Junior League volunteers helping to make this year’s National Book Festival a huge success!
We also want to congratulate our friends at Reach Out And Read who won the Library of Congress’ David M. Rubenstein Prize for their work on early-childhood education.
We love all of you amazing Book People!
Have big plans this weekend?
If you’re in the Washington metro area, swing by the National Mall all weekend long for the free and fabulous National Book Festival!
RIF will be at the “Literary Lights Readers Theater” located in the Pavilion of the States at 4:30PM on Sunday with RIF President and CEO, Carol H. Rasco, and former First Lady of Virginia, founding RIF board member and Chairman Emeritus of RIF, Lynda Johnson Robb. They’ll bring the book Cowboy and Octopus by award-winning author Jon Scieszka to life. Learn more about the performance.
We hope to see you there—Book People Unite!
It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of Ruth Graves, a RIF leader and advocate for children and families.
Ruth served as RIF’s president from 1976 to 1997. Her vision and leadership guided RIF to its status as America’s foremost children’s literacy organization, overseeing a period of tremendous growth during which RIF grew tenfold, increasing its reach from 300,000 children to over 3 million children throughout the U.S.
After her tenure at RIF, Ruth continued to work tirelessly as an outspoken advocate for children’s literacy through serving on several advisory councils for education, government, and media organizations, frequently appearing as a media spokesperson and contributing to articles and books on literacy best practices.
RIF is honored to have had such a bold and bright star at its helm. “We will miss you Ruth.”
The Graves family asks that memorial gifts be made to Reading Is Fundamental in Ruth’s honor.