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 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 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.”
JoEllen 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.
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.
If 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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!