A Time-Honored Tradition: Books and Book Cubbies at St. Elizabeth Seton School
Palo Alto University Rotary Club Member Sasha Madison helps Matia pick out the letters of his name.

On May 16, Bring Me a Book, the Palo Alto University Rotary Club, and the St.Elizabeth Seton School staff joined forces to once again deliver our time-honored tradition of bringing book cubbies and books to the school’s youngest students. With funding from the ever-generous Eliane and Armand Neukermans, St. Elizabeth Seton students establish their home libraries as preschoolers and years later, many still have their book cubbies.

Generous funders Eliane and Armand Neukermans admire one family’s book cubbies.

Several months ago, when Bring Me a Book founder Judy Koch and Executive Director Lois Bridges visited the classrooms, Judy asked the students in each classroom to raise their hands if they had a book cubby. It was heartening to see almost every hand shoot up—and, what’s more, nearly every student could identify the title(s) of their favorite books as well. Bring Me a Book, which strives to help all children develop a joyful reading habit, is deeply honored to serve this vibrant school reading community. We hope it’s a tradition that will continue for years to come.

Preschoolers line up with their parents to celebrate their new home libraries!
Our Family Engagement and Book Cubby Workshop: Helping All Children Develop a Robust Reading Habit

The Family Engagement and Book Cubby Workshop, Bring Me a Book’s signature program, draws together families, a public librarian, books that the children choose themselves to take home, and—the centerpiece—a book cubby. The cubby, decorated and personalized with each child’s first name, serves as the child’s home library and provides a safe place to keep the child’s books, both those the child owns as well as books he or she borrows from the public library.

While Bring Me a Book rejoices over every opportunity to provide children with books, since our primary mission is helping all children grow a joyful, sustainable reading habit, helping children establish a relationship with their public library is of paramount importance. Many of the immigrant families with whom we work do not always realize that our public libraries are completely free—and not only provide books but also, a wide array of multimedia resources, as well as rich programming for children. We work hard to help the families we serve understand that, with a library card in hand, their children are assured of having access to the most fabulous literacy resources in their community—the public library!

April 7, Bring Me a Book brought our Family Engagement Cubby Workshop to the Sunnyvale Public Library, as part of our two-year partnership with the library. And April 22, we partnered with the Family Connections Preschool. At both events, librarians provided families with information about obtaining library cards and attending story hours and other library programs for children. They also read aloud to the children—one child-pleasing picture book after another.

Finally, the children chose three books to take home in their book cubbies. We hope the cubbies help establish each child’s identity as a reader—and long serve to provide fingertip access to all the books each child loves best.

Judy Koch: Bringing Books to Children with Love and Joy

May 18, 1943 – February 21, 2023

“Live life with purpose!” Judy Koch was fond of saying—and that she did most notably with the founding of nonprofit Bring Me a Book in 1997, propelled by a mission to help all children grow a joyful and sustainable reading habit—supported by family engagement and a partnership with the public library.

Judy’s life of purpose was driven by her unique kindness, generosity of spirit, and joie de vivre. Judy made every day an adventure, shaped by her earnest belief that it was always possible to help others.

Judy’s life mission was to spread joyful literacy. It was born during her first career as a junior high English teacher and deepened in her second career as the owner and CEO of RSP Manufacturing, a precision sheet metal fabrication company that served Silicon Valley tech companies.

Here, in the RSP factory, she created a model of “workplace literacy,” and built a library of exquisite children’s literature for her employees, primarily recent immigrants from Mexico, to bring home to their children. After she sold the business, it was this model that launched Bring Me a Book.

Inspired by the words of poet and author Walter de la Mare: “I know well that only the rarest kind of best can be good enough for the young,” Judy curated book collections for young children from birth to age five.

Judy understood—through her close observations of children over the years—which books they loved best and wanted to hear read aloud again and again. The Bring Me Book legacy collections are known as “Read It Again!” books. They never fail to delight those fortunate children who get to choose books to take home so they can, with their families, read the books again and again.

Judy never tired of seeing a child’s face light up with the joy of reading. She gave her heart to the literacy lives of children, lighting their lives and ours, with her kindness, generosity, and love.

We are so honored to have supported Judy’s mission and vision and we pledge to continue. As our Bring Me a Book Board member Jon Porter said, “It’s now up to us to carry on Bring Me a Book in Judy’s name. That’s how we honor and remember her.”

If desired, memorials in Judy’s honor can be made to Bring Me A Book Foundation (www.bringmeabook.org).

The Magic of Readers

By Arlene Lawrence

It was Saturday afternoon when I picked up an incoming call from my daughter.

Barely audible over the shouts of “Mimi, Mimi” coming from what I assumed was the back seat of her car, my daughter said, “Hi Mom, Violet has something she needs to tell you.”

“Mimi, you won’t believe it. I just got reading glasses. They are pink and have flowers and they are for READING!”

“That’s wonderful, honey,” I replied, wondering if she had recently had a vision test and needed to start wearing glasses.

“I am going to bring them with me when I sleep over tonight so that I can read to you” she continued, barely able to contain her excitement.

My daughter cut in, saying “We were at the Dollar Store and Violet picked up a pair of glasses off the display and tried them on. I told her they were magnifying readers to help people when they read. She insisted on trying on a dozen pairs and begged to get a pair, even though I told her she could see just fine.”

When Violet and her brother were dropped off a few hours later, the first thing she did was pull out the adult-sized square reading glasses (with smudged lenses) and put them on.

With a confident glow she stated, “Look Mimi, I have on my readers.”

“Oh, they look fabulous” I told her, “ I know I usually read you a book as soon as you arrive, but we have to leave now to meet your cousins for dinner. So let’s leave your readers here and you can use them tonight when we read a bedtime story.”

We ended up staying out a little later than anticipated and by the time we arrived home, Violet was asleep. Somehow, we got her pajamas on, but a bedtime story was not happening.

Early the next morning, I woke to a whisper in my ear.

“Mimi, Mimi, it’s morning. I have on my readers. Do you want to hear a story?”

I mustered up a groggy “Of course.”

And then, without abandon and with the confidence and determination of a four-year-olds imaginative mind, she proceeded to “read” me not one book, but three. I complimented her after each book, not only on her skill but the power of those incredible readers.

When she was done, she took off the readers and that was that. It was time to get ready for a new day.

To many grandparents, a pair of reading glasses may make it a bit easier to see, but to a young child, they might be just the magic needed to see themselves as an accomplished reader.

Bring Me a Book Thanks Ruszel Woodworks!
Bring Me a Book Literacy Innovators Forum: Libraries as Liberation, 3/16/22 @ 7:30pm ET

Libraries should be the heart and soul of a classroom, a school, a community—Gholdy Muhammad and Julia Torres explore the history and the current status of our most critical literacy resource—our libraries.

The Literacy Innovators Forum is an online presentation of ideas, insights, and innovations related to literacy, language, and learning — moderated by school librarian Julia Torres, author of Liven Up Your Library: Design Engaging and Inclusive Programs for Tweens and Teens.

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves. —James Lee Byars Click here to register for the event.

Click here to register for the event.

San Francisco Business Journal:
How can we motivate children to read?

Calling all civically-minded partners to help spread the joy and power of reading! A rich reading life is the key to a healthier, stronger, and more fulfilling life for us all. Reader’s choice is the spark that ignites the motivation to read—and the reader you support today, may become the innovative problem solver who helps us all tomorrow.

Read the full article from the San Francisco Business Journal here.

Book Cubbies for Carl B. Munck Elementary with Bring Me A Book, Bookelicious, Lowes, and the Palo Alto Rotary Club

Community Literacy in action—the community comes together to bring book abundance and book cubbies to the students of Carl B. Munck Elementary School in Oakland, CA.

To view the full story CLICK HERE.

Healthier Kids Partnership Announcement

Healthier Kids Foundation is excited to announce its partnership with Bring Me a Book, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization founded in 1997 by middle school English teacher turned CEO, Judy Koch. Bring Me a Book helps all children thrive through the joy and power of reading— leveraging literacy to create a more humane and hopeful world for us all.

Bring Me a Book helps all children thrive through the joy and power of reading— leveraging literacy to create a more humane and hopeful world for us all.

Serving as a catalyst for community literacy, they help children:

• Choose the books they love best

• Grow a reading habit sustained by their public library, and 

• Develop, with their family’s support, a lifelong love of reading 

Their process is simple. It begins with each child’s creation of a Bookelicious bookmoji, which is a personalized reading avatar, reflecting a child’s likes and interests. The creation of the bookmoji is the beginning of how they invite children to think about who they are as readers. Next, children browse the Bookelicious universe of books to identify ones that are matched to their interests, and they create their own Reading Wish Lists.

With support from Bring Me a Book, children obtain books for their home libraries from the diverse and extensive Bookelicious collection—20,000 titles curated by a team of professional librarians and educators. Additionally, children learn to fulfill their Reading Wish Lists by developing a library habit! Bookelicious is connected to World Cat, so children can check to see if the book they want is in their local public library. Or, equipped with their Reading Wish Lists, they can visit the public library, and librarians are always delighted to help young readers fulfill their wish lists in the library! 

The Reading Wish Lists empower children as readers. Children are twice as likely to read the books that they choose themselves; indeed, book choice and book ownership are the catalysts for developing a lifelong reading habit that offers immeasurable benefits in school, work, and life.

Oral Language Learning: A Stunning Intellectual Achievement and What It Reveals About Human Learning

 Brian Cambourne is presently a Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He began teaching in 1956 at the age of 19 and spent nine years teaching in a mix of one-room schools and primary classrooms K–6 for the New South Wales Department of Education. 

In his tenth year of service for this department he entered the groves of Academe as a teacher educator at Wagga Wagga Teachers’ College. He completed his Ph.D. at James Cook University in North Queensland, and was subsequently a Fullbright Scholar and a Post Doctoral Fellow at Harvard. He has also been a Visiting Fellow at the Universities of Illinois and Arizona. Since completing his doctoral studies (1972), Brian has been researching how learning, especially literacy learning, occurs. He has conducted this research in the naturalistic mode he prefers by sitting and observing in classrooms for many hundreds of hours. His latest book Made for Learning: How the Conditions of Learning Guide Teaching Decisions, co-authored with Debra Crouch, captures Brian’s 60 years of research and theory building.

To view the full PDF CLICK HERE.

The Power of Reader’s Choice and Identity

In her landmark book, Cultivating Genius, Gholdy Muhammad challenges us to reconsider the heart of teaching: “It is our job as educators to not just teach the skills, but also, to teach students to know, validate, and celebrate who they are (2020).” 

At the core of every reader is a sense of self-identity that encompasses the reader’s sociocultural background, language, values, perspectives, and developing knowledge of the world. Having the agency to choose your own books and craft a reading life that aligns with your identity is equity in action. Literacy as a civil right begins with defining yourself as a reader and choosing the books that will help you shape and expand your identity. As Julia Lopez-Robertson remarks, “All children deserve and have the right to see books representing their language, culture, traditions, and worlds in which they live” (2021). 

To view the full PDF CLICK HERE.

The Flood with Jan Richardson. Early: Level G First Reading with Prompting

Dr. Richardson and her expert team of literacy consultants provide schools and school districts with customized professional development and demonstration lessons designed to equip teachers with practical and effective techniques for strengthening small-group reading instruction. The goal is for every student to become a better reader who just can’t wait to read another book!

Deepening Meaning: Returning to the Book with Kindergartners

This follow-up reading’s focus is about deepening meaning of the book. Debra again models her thinking and invites students to turn-and-talk several times during their second reading of Which Pet is Best?

Students join in reading the text aloud with the teacher as they choose.

Debra uses a pointer to track the print by moving fluidly under the text, as all students in the class have one-to-one match established.

Debra Crouch works nationally as an independent literacy consultant, collaborating with districts and schools in designing professional learning opportunities. Her work empowers teachers, principals, and coaches to envision instructional decisions that matter for children—decisions about processes for learning that unfold over time, across texts and among practices. She actively shares her thinking and practices through long-term professional learning opportunities with districts across the country serving children from diverse backgrounds, languages, and socioeconomic needs.

Stories: Legacies of who we are – Awele Makeba

Storyteller and educator Awele Makeba combines performing arts and history to tell a powerful story from the American civil rights movement.

Tupu Read Aloud: Little Red Hen

Mr. Vosa from The Primary School reads The Little Red Hen by authors Brenda Parkes and Judith Smith and illustrated by Mary Davy. William, better known by his middle name, Vosa, was raised in Redwood City, and is an educator specializing in Early Childhood with an added passion for working with high school and university populations. In his nine years of teaching and leading, Vosa has enjoyed working with students in achieving their potential and creating a safe and trusting atmosphere. Vosa strives to build a life-long love for learning and to build a team of committed educators determined to create a sense of leadership and a strong community.