• December 2010

Learn How You Can Help the Cause: "We Give Books"

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Editor & Publisher
Be Inkandescent Magazine

Patti LaBelle and Bill Cosby were some of the celebs who joined Jumpstart’s Read for the Record in October, when the program, which is sponsored by the Pearson Foundation and We Give Books, was featured on the TODAY show.

“This was one of the best events in the five year history of the initiative,” says Pearson Foundation executive Mark Nieker (pictured above, far right), noting the ambassador for the event was Estee Lauder spokesperson Carolyn Murphy, who flipped the switch to change the Empire State building’s lights to Jumpstart orange in honor of the project. “It was great fun to have the Empire State building lit up in Jumpstart orange in honor of Read for the Record.”

While hanging out with celebrities was tremendous fun, Nieker says the moment that really impressed him came at the Read for the Record event in Chandler, Arizona.

“Sixty degrees is about as low as the temperature goes in Chandler, but they had snow this year, which was perfect because we were reading The Snowy Day! by Ezra Jack Keats,” he shares, noting that a total of 2,057,513 adults and children across the globe helped to set a new world record, once again, by coming together to read the official book of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record 2010 Campaign. “The kids had an absolute blast. And the adults looked like they were having a good time, too.”

Making fun of reading

Created by the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation, the goal of We Give Books is to engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs.

“We hope that We Give Books proves to be a way that young children, together with their parents or caregivers, can come to understand the power of reading—and of giving,” Nieker explains. “We Give Books is a website that provides a place for families to go online to read with their kids. Mothers and fathers can also use the site as a teachable moment to talk with their children about the importance of giving.”

The best part of the program, Nieker believes, is that it’s so easy to get involved.

“People don’t have to buy the book or borrow the book to read it,” he explains. “All they have to do is go online.”

So far, millions have participated. In fact, during the October event alone, nearly a quarter of a million readers accessed the book through the website, ww.wegivebooks.org.

Another benefit of the program, Nieker shares, is that school districts that are grappling with severe budget cuts can use the program to ease cuts in a school’s library budget. And, he says, corporations can spread the word that We Give Books exists, and make sure that their local schools know about We Give Books.

“If a company is motivated, it can help donate books earmarked for their local libraries and schools—and the Pearson Foundation will match the donation, book for book,” Nieker explains. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Jump on the bandwagon

Join in on the fun. Here’s how:

1. To get started, log on to the We Give Books website: www.wegivebooks.org.

2. Click on the link to the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. Options include Room to Read, which supports libraries for young people around the world; and the NEA Foundation’s Books Across America program helps stock libraries in need across the United States. You can also support community-based campaigns hosted by local school districts or nonprofit organizations.

3. For each book you read online, We Give Books will donate a book to a leading literacy group on your behalf. “The more you read, the more we give,” Nieker says. “One of the aims of We Give Books is to encourage the conversations with your child that will better ensure he or she becomes a life-long giver. As you consider the non-profit organizations from which you can choose, take time to talk through the goals of each charity, with your child, and discuss your reasons for selecting the one you do.”

4. Now it’s time to read. Select a title from our ever-growing library of great children’s books and start reading online with a child in your life. Each time you read a book online, you help give a brand-new hardcover or paperback book from the Penguin and Dorling Kindersley library to the campaign you’ve selected. Read as many books as you like, as many times as you like.

5. Once a campaign you’ve supported reaches its goal, you and your child receive a personalized letter of thanks for your effort. More books are added each month. If you’re a member, you’ll receive an email to tell you when new books arrive. Books at We Give Books are always free, and favorite titles can be read as often as you like.

6. You can also create reading groups, community reading-a-thons, or giving drives. And, as a member, you can learn more about the importance of early reading and about the great literacy campaigns supported by We Give Books.

7. Help spread the word. Your reading at We Give Books helps share books with young people who need them. It also helps the great non-profit organizations, with which we’ve joined forces, to support these young people.

For more information visit: www.wegivebooks.org.

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