Young people do read. If they have books.

National Book Award Winners in all categories for 2010

Through ReadThis, our friends at the National Book Foundation once again donated Young Adult books to a school that needed them. A full 138 books went off to a public middle school in Brooklyn. You can read here how much the donation meant. Thank you, National Book Foundation:

Dear ReadThis and the National Book Foundation,

I am writing to you to express my heartfelt gratitude for your generous donation of books
to the Grade 8 Humanities Program at KAPPA V middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Three large boxes full of brand new books arrived in my school’s office addressed to me.  I am not exaggerating when I say that there were audible “oohs” and “ahhs” from the few students present in my room as I opened the first box.  Not surprisingly, three students asked to sign-out books they found interesting on the spot.

Teaching is difficult enough under ideal circumstances.  Having taught at a Title I school
(almost all of our students are entitled to reduced-price or free meals) for the past 5 years,
I have learned to deal with the additional challenge of scraping together most of my
classroom resources on my own.  On more than one occasion, I have used my personal
savings to purchase class sets of novels I wanted to share with my students.  With all New
York public schools facing drastic budget cuts, asking administrators to purchase reading
materials would certainly prove to be a naive exercise in futility.

With the books you have provided for me, I can supplement my somewhat worn classroom
library with a great selection of new, high-interest novels and non-fiction for my
Humanities students.  Despite the growing obsession with test preparation and “teaching
to the test,” study after study continues to prove the same thing: independent reading is
THE best form of test preparation available to our students.  With hair-trigger attention
spans, our students will only continue to read independently when provided with high-
interest reading like the materials you have sent me.  I look forward to sharing these
resources with my students and fellow teachers over the course of the coming academic
year, and cannot thank you enough for your time and effort to brighten up my classroom
and my students’ lives with your much-needed gift.

Sincerely,
Andrew L. Mills
Grade 8 Humanities – KAPPA V (MS 518)


Birthday party delivers books

Beckett on delivery day with PS 46 Principal Karyn Nicholson

We have got to hand it to two of ReadThis’ youngest members, Beckett and his friend, Eli, who threw a joint birthday party and asked their friends to bring books to donate to a public school in New York that needed them. ReadThis directed them to P.S. 46, Edward Blum school in Fort Greene, which has a nice new library, but serves one of the lowest income communities and is greatly in need of books, particularly nonfiction.

Over 50 books were collected — a great gift to the school. Thanks too to Beckett’s mother, Lindsay, who delivered the books to the school.

If anyone else would like to hold a birthday book party and donate books to a school, hospital, or literacy center in need, please get in touch with ReadThis at readthisorg@gmail.com.

Thank you, Weinstein Company

Students at Science Skills Center High School in Brooklyn with their new homework

The Weinstein Company donated 500 copies of The Road by Cormac McCarthy through ReadThis to the Bronx Academy and to Science Skills Center High School in Brooklyn. The books will be taught to senior classes and AP English this spring.

5 Great Irish Books: St. Pat’s Day Gold

Frank O'Connor

There are so many great Irish books it is hard to know where to start. But if you would like to sample some Irish writing, without plunging straight into Finnegans Wake, or if you fancy exploring beyond Joyce, Beckett, Wilde and Yeats, here are a few ideas. A good place to start is the Collected Short Stories of Frank O’Connor (1982). Some, like “Guests of the Nation” – which inspired the movie The Crying Game – are set against the backdrop of political upheaval in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century. Others, like ‘The First Confession’ and ‘My Oedipus Complex’ are witty and poignant observations of childhood experiences, based on O’Connor’s own upbringing in working-class Cork, but resonant with readers everywhere.

Molly Keane’s Good Behaviour (1981) takes place in a very different Ireland of the early twentieth century, that of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. Told through flashback by the unlovely Aroon, heiress to a bankrupt estate, who has killed her mother with a dish of baby rabbit, it is the story of the deeply dysfunctional St Charles family and their code of ‘good behavior’: willful disregard for the changing world beyond the gates, and rigorous emotional repression within. An elegant and darkly funny satire, it reads like an especially barbed Jane Austen.

Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy (1958) is an autobiographical novel, based on his experience of three years in a British juvenile prison, convicted of smuggling explosives for the IRA. Much of the story is told through the speech of the inmates and wardens, and Behan’s acute ear for accents, slang, jokes and songs takes us into the everyday routine, the violence and also the friendship he finds there – and also got it banned in Ireland on publication.

Though written a century ago, James Stephens’ The Crock of Gold (1912) seems stranger, funnier and more modern than ever. Inspired by traditional Irish fairy tales, and his own vivid imagination, it is set in the wood of Coilla Doraca, inhabited by two philosophers with parchment-like skin, a thin woman and a grey woman and their children. They encounter leprechauns, a talking spider, the god Pan and a host of other legendary and invented characters, in pursuit of the crock of gold, while making sure to stop for a good breakfast along the way.

Dermot Bolger’s Father’s Music (1999) is the story of Tracey and Luke, a young Londoner of Irish descent and a mysterious Irish criminal. This graphic and intelligent thriller takes in the Irish clubs of London, and rural Donegal, but is above all a portrait of a brash modern-day Dublin where rich businessmen and drug dealers rub shoulders. His is an Ireland that seems on the surface to have changed dramatically, but where echoes of the past remain ever-present.

Michael Staunton, Ph.D., is a lecturer in history at University College Dublin. Born in Dublin and educated at University College Cork and Cambridge University, he previously worked at Cambridge University and at St. Andrew’s University. He is the author of The Lives of Thomas Becket.

What Happens When a Bunch of Greeks, Sven the Mover, and Three Great Writers Work Together: Schools Get the Books They Need

In late January 2011, ReadThis was approached by Ben Mathan, Inter Greek Council Vice President at New York University. The Greek Council had launched a drive to collect children’s books and had been so successful, they had 5,000 books to give away. ReadThis identified three public elementary schools in Brooklyn (Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, and Bushwick) greatly in need of books; the schools were only too happy to hear that help was on its way.

The generous Sven Wechsler of Sven Moving company kindly agreed to waive his own fee for sending out his trucks, and ReadThis board members Elizabeth Gilbert, Ada Calhoun and Paul O’Donnell anted up the pay for the labor.

The result: Before nightfall on that early February moving day, ReadThis had its first report from one of the ecstatic principals: “I hope all is well! I am so excited, the books came today.  I am so appreciative of what you have done for our school.  The children will be so happy when the books arrive to their classrooms.”

More reports from the schools will follow, but here, from Ben, is the story of how these college students made an amazing gift:

On November 9th, 2010, the NYU Inter Greek Council began planning a small book drive for the NYU Community, meant to raise awareness and collect books to support underprivileged children.  This drive was intended to support the NYU Fraternity Sorority Life Alternative Spring Break Trip to Tampa FL where students would spend their spring break volunteering to tutor underprivileged children.  The Inter Greek Council hoped to send these students to Tampa with not only their willingness to help, but also a decent number of books which they could provide to the children.

The drive began on November 22nd and ended on December 10th.  Greek Organizations on campus were paired off and also asked to sponsor an NYU Residence Hall where they would spend time tabling and asking for books from NYU students not in Greek Life.  When school opened back up after Thanksgiving Break, the Council was pleased to find that NYU Students had gone back home and brought their old books, some had even gone back home and knocked on doors to collect books and bring back.  What was intended to be a small book drive for one school quickly snowballed into something spectacular and by December 10th, the NYU Inter Greek Council had collected 5,461 books, filling the Greek Council office to the brim.  The council members quickly realized that this was too many books to take down to Florida and after extensive research into various organizations in the area, the Inter Greek Council came across ReadThis which was the perfect organization to partner with in order to distribute these books to children in need.  ReadThis did an amazing job facilitating a pick up of all the books and distributing them to local schools, something that the Inter Greek council could never have done on its own.  Thank you very much to ReadThis, it was a pleasure to work with you!

Brooklyn Report: What Your Book Donations Meant to One School

Telia Kapteyn teaching with one of the books donated to PAVE by a ReadThis member

Dear ReadThis and ReadThis Members,

Happy New Year! Here at PAVE Academy Charter School in Red Hook, Brooklyn, we can say with confidence that our students had a very happy New Year thanks to the generosity of ReadThis and its members. We received a very large donation of gently used books from ReadThis in December and the timing could not have been better. Around the mid-point of the year classroom libraries need replenishment and new titles, students have grown as readers and need a larger selection of books, and families are looking for more books for their children to read and enjoy.

We were able to do so many meaningful things with the thousands of high-quality books that ReadThis donated. Teachers added to their libraries of “teaching books” or “touchstone texts” — resources used to teach foundational literacy concepts and great writing skills. They also replenished and enhanced their classroom libraries, motivating students to read more as they had more options and topics of interest to read about. Finally, the number of books that we received allowed us to give each of our students more than 5 books to take home over the holidays. Many of our students more than doubled the number of books that they own because of this generous donation.

One of the biggest factors in motivating students to read is having an abundance of high-quality literature at their reading level. Your donation makes a significant impact on our students by motivating them to read more and improving the quality of resources in our classrooms. We would be excited to welcome anyone from ReadThis to visit the school and see our super star readers in action. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help arrange this.

Again, thank you for your generous gift to PAVE Academy Charter School. We are extremely appreciative.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Abarno

Instructional Coach

PAVE Academy Charter School

Wrapper’s Delight, pt. 2

ReadThis volunteers put in a weekend of gift-wrapping at Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore the weekend before Christmas. All tips went to supplement the classroom libraries at nearby PS 46. They burned through rolls of paper and yards of Scotch tape, and when the dust cleared, they’d collected $668—enough to send more than FIFTY NEW BOOKS to the kids at PS 46.

Thanks so much to Rebecca and Jessica at Greenlight Bookstore for inviting us and making the event so successful. Thanks to the patrons who tipped so generously. (See, people who buy books are good people.) And thanks to everyone who gave up precious holiday shopping days to wrap and make a difference for the kids at PS 46!

Elliott Holt
Emily Cavedon
Margaret McCartney
Natalie Standiford
Catherine Wirtz
Melissa Walker
Violet Sorrentino
Amy Hundley
Judith Dieckmann

Books for Bushwick, Brooklyn: Thanks ReadThis donors

On MLK Day, ReadThis would like to thank the people whose community service in late 2010 led to a financially strapped public school in Bushwick, Brooklyn, getting 49 sets of 5 books each for their small reading groups.

This elementary school, PS 376A, asked ReadThis to help inspire its young readers by providing series for the students to read together. Currently, only 40 percent of the students are reading at grade level, but the principal and vice principal hoped to create small teams of 5 students each. The groups will take turns working their way through the series.

You came through and now 245 books are being sent off to the school. We would like to thank everyone who spread the word, and particularly Stephanie Anderson and Christine Onorati at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn, who not only translated the school’s wishlist to their site and are shipping the books off to the school, but put up an in-store promotion during the holiday season to let customers know how they might help.

The wishlist still has a few more books left to buy, so if you are so inclined, please help:

http://www.wordbrooklyn.com/help-readthis-get-books-ps-376a-bushwick

In the meantime, our special thanks goes to the following:

Cindy Bryce

Toby Bryce

Ingrid Buckner

Bikram Chatterji

Katharine Crane

Mimi Crowell

Katharine Freeman

Richard Giorgi

Tara Goodrich

Lisa Govan

Craig Harrison

Karen Hudes

Wendy Hughes

Ellaine Irizarry

Emily Kite

Rosina Lardieri

Vanessa Lilly

Jack McGuire

Suzanne Mitchell

Seth Mnookin

Katha Pollitt

Hilary Redmon

Sarah Robbins

Frank Rubino

Lisa Schermerhorn

Amanda Stokes

Anne Swartz

Falicia Valdez

Joanna Yas

Kate Yourke

Margaret Zambiasi

From one book lover to another

A student from public charter school, PAVE Academy in Red Hook, Brooklyn, with one of the ReadThis book drive donations.

Thank you, ReadThis members, for your generous 2010

So many ReadThis members dug deep at the end of 2010 to help their fellow book lovers, we’re going to have to thank you all in waves.

Let’s start with the general book drives in November that gathered donations for New York City public schools in need from the Bronx, to Harlem, to Red Hook, to Bushwick and on. Many of you hauled your donations to the book-drive host locations in the wintry weather, or mailed them on your own to the schools. The book drive locations in November collected about 1,550 books. Another 1,135, plus about 9 other boxes were mailed in directly to the schools. That’s about 2,955 total, thanks to your good work.

On top of that, a couple of boxes went off to the troops overseas, thanks to Laurie Brown and Elizabeth Royte.

Below are people we know to thank. If you donated, but were unable to get your name on a list, please alert us at readthisorg@gmail.com so we can properly acknowledge your heroic efforts.

Book Drive Hosts (who volunteered their homes one Saturday to receive donations)

Caroline and Buster Black

Roslyn Biskin

Katha Pollitt (board member)

Book Delivery to the Schools

Craig Lively

Peter Harper (board member)

Biz Mitchell (board member)

Book Donors

Jonathan Galassi of FSG (about 100 books)

Katherine Bouton

Wendy Kassel

Adam and Lara Morrison

Thea Schell

Jan Ledbetter

Daniel and Ben Zitin

Karen and Marin and other residents of 175 Riverside Drive

Emily Hartzell of The Neighborhood School (10 crates)

Fran Manushkin

Miriam Berkley

Katha Pollitt (board member)

Henrietta and Brett Pertuz

Lisa Featherstone

Jennifer Thomson

Karin Wood

Carl (who was double-parked)

Laurie Brown (7 boxes mailed)

Vickie An

Sarah Borden

Libby Borden

Judy Hottensen (board member)

Ian and Stina Sopko

Lucy and Gigi Bryce

Gail Rose

Danielle Avsrotas

Kim Maier

Publicity

Becky Firesheets