Author: madelinelangdon

About madelinelangdon

Co-Founder of Wonderland BookSavers

Wonderland BookSavers’ Haitian-Creole Books Arrived in Haiti on May 17

By Madeline

Early last fall, we met with our community partner Susy Whitcomb, President of Haitian Educational Initiatives. Susy brought us pictures and videos of the kids at their school with our books. We had previously donated many French books to Haiti, but upon meeting with Susy, we discovered that the children in Haiti speak Haitian-Creole–not French–as their first language.

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A Haitian child with one of our donated French books

The French books were helpful, but before the Haitian children could learn to read, they would have to learn French, a foreign language. Team Wonderland BookSavers decided that we wanted to get the Haitian children Haitian-Creole books so they could finally have books written in their native language.

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Haitian-Creole books

After collaborating with our community partner Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx, we were able to obtain funds to purchase $1,099 worth of Haitian-Creole books. Since Zoe was so generous in giving us the funds to purchase the Haitian-Creole books, we along with the ZappRx team donated 2,000 books to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

Throughout this project, we have united American children with Haitian children through our “poster pals” program. Poster pals are essentially pen pals, except we exchange and create banners with notes and drawings instead of just letters.

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Kids work on one of the poster pals we sent to Haiti

Wonderland BookSavers held a community event at the Barnum School where we helped the kids decorate a Sneetch machine after we read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. At that event, we read a Haitian-Creole book to the children at Barnum School, and let the kids create banners for the children in Haiti.

Soon, the children at Barnum School will get a poster pals banner from the children in Haiti. Our Haitian-Creole books and poster pals were scheduled to arrive in Haiti in February, but due to a political coup and violence in Haiti, our books and poster pals were delayed in being delivered until May. On May 17, the children in Haiti received the first books they have ever seen written in their native language, and posters and drawings from us and American children.

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children in Haiti holding our donated books

We are incredibly grateful to Susy Whitcomb and Zoe Barry for their assistance in this project. We are excited to see the children with their new books, and we are eagerly anticipating the poster pals which the Haitian children are sending back to America.

Wonderland BookSavers Attend Meet the Author with Ida Siegal

By Madeline

Last Friday, Team Wonderland BookSavers attended a “Meet the Author” event with Ida Siegal, an author of a series of four books, at our local library. Many of us have seen Ida broadcasting news stories as an NBC New York reporter, but we were unaware that Ida also wrote children’s books.

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An array of Ida’s series of books, Emma Is on the Air

Ida recently published Emma Is on the Air, a series of four books in which the protagonist, Emma, pieces together puzzles and mysteries at her school and reports on the subsequent happenings. Ida explained that she wanted to create a series of books to illustrate what reporters do. As she spoke to us, she explained that children are always interested in news reporters–she recounted how whenever children see the iconic NBC peacock logo and all the news equipment, they immediately sprint over to ask a deluge of questions. Ida said she wanted to create something to show children what being a news reporter is like, and with the incite and perspective of being an actual news reporter, Ida created this series of books to help readers see how reporters operate.listeningtoida.JPGIda read a few chapters from her first book from her series, Big News!, and after reading two chapters, Ida held a question-and-answer session where we and other children were able to ask about her writing process, her inspiration for the books, and how her career as a reporter helped in creating the story.idareading.JPGLastly, Ida held a book-signing, and we got signed copies of Ida’s book Big News! This event was both informational and inspiring, and we gleaned firsthand knowledge about news reporting and book publishing.

Title 1 School Donates Books to Zimbabwe

written by Brooks Morganpic 1.JPGToday, 5/9/16, we visited Emily G. Wetherbee school in Massachusetts. We are thrilled with their generosity. Francine, writing coach and head of community service said, “We’re trying to teach our students, here, to give to others. I work in a community where the kids get 100% free lunch and they get a lot of free services; it is a community of poverty and yet, we try to teach them that it doesn’t matter; you can still give to others. This is one way for students to share with other people.” Francine’s words reflect our mission, the greatest gift is giving.pic 2.JPGA 4th grade class helped us load the car with all the boxes that were donated. They were all very nice. Joshua was very good at carrying and organizing the boxes, Denise was so nice for holding the door open for those carrying boxes, otherwise we would have been locked out. Cameron, Adrian, Brady, Ninio, and Jose were very strong and able to carry the boxes to and into the car. Cameron, Joshua, Denise, Adrian, and Brady were also very good at answering some of our questions.pic 3

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Sombreros and sticky letters for the kids in Zimbabwe

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A letter one of the fourth graders wrote to the kids in Zimbabwe

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Some of the books donated to us by the Wetherbee School

After loading the car, I went inside and continued interviewing Francine. Francine spoke about the importance of giving to others, Alison, our team manager, said, “I think that’s so important, for kids who don’t have much to be able to give to other children. That’s one of the reasons that we started this letter writing campaign. We know it’s a way that kids can share with others, you can give a letter or a picture as a way to communicate. Francine added, “And I’ve read some of the letters and one or two of them almost made me cry because they’re saying something like ‘your new friend from America.’ At 4th grade, the kids are just so open, you know, they don’t know these people at all but they saw the video and saw what the situation was and thought oh, wow, we get to give them books!”pic 7Before we left, Francine wanted to give us more things to share with the children in Zimbabwe. She found a huge box of sticky foam letters and pictures and a huge stack of sombreros! We had a great time talking to the children and collecting the books. We hope to go back again if they want to collect some more books for us!pic 8

Written by Brooks Morgan

Greens Farms Academy donates books to Wonderland BookSavers

By Madeline

A few weeks ago, Greens Farms Academy, a private co-ed school in Westport, Connecticut, donated several boxes of books to Wonderland BookSavers.

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Posing with the donated books. Left to right: Madeline; Claire; Christine Fecteau, Lower School Librarian and Director of Library Services; Emma

We are thrilled to add Greens Farms Academy to our list of community partners, and we will be donating their books to the schools in Africa we support. Our community partner, Mark Grashow, the President and Co-Founder of US Africa Children’s Fellowship, told us that we “currently are supporting the education of 170,000 children in 350 schools in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.” These books will have a tremendous impact, and will enable many children to further their education.

Greens Farms Academy also has several outreach initiatives of its own, including the World Perspectives Program, Seed to Table, and a Sustainability Council. These programs focus on both local community service and involving students in their global community.bringingbookstocar.JPGTeam Wonderland BookSavers is grateful for the books Greens Farms Academy has donated to us, and we will use these books to continue fulfilling our mission of promoting global literacy.

 

There is no frigate like a book…to take us to West Point

Written by Emma Langdon

Last Saturday, my family and I went to West Point and watched an Army versus Navy lacrosse game. It was amazing to see Army’s team spirit in all the students and fans.laxgame.JPGlaxgame2.JPGWe rooted for Army since one of our friends was a defender for that team, but unfortunately, after a thrilling game, Army lost to Navy 11-10 in overtime. I thought it was neat seeing students dressed in military uniform spectating the game. After the game, we met up with a family friend who attended West Point for college, and now teaches at West Point.friend.JPGWe received a first hand tour of the campus and visited many buildings. We learned some incredible facts and stories about West Point as he toured us around the campus.  

The first story that I enjoyed was about the lunchroom. The lunchroom, or “mess hall” is massive, with ornate, detailed architecture and décor. messhall6

It has an enormous mural covering one entire wall that depicts famous heroes and battles of history, from ancient warfare to Napoleon.

mural.JPGOne day, the electricity went out. The cadets (students) at West Point seized the opportunity to have a huge food-fight. The food-fight only lasted as long as the power was out, but when the power came back on, the mural had been plastered with food. Even after the mural had been cleaned off, it was still damaged, and the colors started fading because of the oils from the food. Eventually, the senior class of that year had to raise money to restore the mural.

I also learned about the tidiness rules that the students were expected to follow. Each dorm room is very Spartan, and has the exact same furnishings. Every morning, the beds have to be made perfectly, the room has to be clean without dust on any surfaces, only three personal items are allowed on the desk, the trash can has to be empty, and the one I think would be the hardest to follow is that no water droplets can be left in the sink. However, there is one item the cadets are allowed to bring a surplus of: books! The number of books cadets can have in their room is not limited, however, all the books must be shelved in height order. If these rules are not followed, the punishment is to spend your weekend marching around campus.

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The cadets’ uniforms

Every night curfew is at 11:30, and the lights out time was at 12:00. Our friend who attended the school told us a funny story about how he and his roommate found a way to weave around this rule. The nights that they knew they would be up very late finishing homework, they would take out a big black tarp and cover the windows with it so that no light would show during the inspections from outside around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

During the lacrosse game, and older man who was sitting next to us started a conversation with us before the game started. I noticed a large ring with a blue jewel in the middle of it that he was wearing on his hand. He said that both he and his father had attended West Point. Later, I noticed a similar ring on our friend’s hand, and I asked him about it.

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our friend’s ring

He said that it was a ring that he got the year he graduated and that each student gets one. He also said that it was very important to him saying that if his house were on fire, this (after his family) would be one of the things he would save if he could.

My favorite building we saw was the library. The illustrious library has floors and floors of books, and also contains many special documents, statues, and has paintings and artifacts on display. There was also a beautiful view on a balcony from the top floor. One of the statues I saw was Thomas Jefferson, who established West Point in 1802.

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A quote engraved at the libary

This was significant to me because it showed that the school respects one of our most important founding fathers who also loved literature, so it made perfect sense to have this statue in the library.

I really enjoyed our visit to West Point and the tour, and I would recommend visiting it if anyone is ever nearby.

Written by Emma Langdon

Feast Upon Greek and Roman Myths

Written by Brooks

Last Thursday, my fifth grade class held the annual celebration called the Roman Feast to end our studies on the Ancient Greeks and Romans. I dressed up as Zeus for the feast. brookszeusIn the weeks leading up to the event, I eagerly planned and constructed my costume. I used a bed sheet for my toga. For my lighting bolt, I used a paper towel roll covered in aluminum foil. Then, I put yellow zigzags on the bolt. Next, I put electric pens inside the lightning bolt so I could shock all of my friends.feast1.JPGOn my shield was a picture of me dressed as Medusa. Zeus had a shield with Medusa on the front because to use as protection. Medusa was a young mortal girl and Poseidon took her to the temple of Athena and they fell in love at the foot of Athens’s statue. Athena thought up a horrible curse and turned Medusa in to a monster who could turn people to stone. After getting dressed in our classroom, we proceeded to the balcony of our lunchroom.feast2.JPGOur parents had decorated it to resemble Roman palace. We were served chicken legs, ham, Caesar salad, bread, and various desserts including a Roman Coliseum cake.feast3cake.JPGAfter dessert, we paraded in the lunchroom and threw out gold coins to the younger children. The Roman feast was my favorite highlight of the school year. It was culmination of all of the studying and readings we did such as The Iliad, The Odyssey, Greek myths, and studying Greek and Roman wars. In addition, I have read several of the Percy Jackson books including Greek Gods and Greek Heroes. Even though these myths were written almost 3,000 years ago they still have relevance today.greekbooksThey are fun to read because the Gods have many exciting powers such as flying, immortality, the ability to morph into different shapes and sizes, and the magical weapons they can use. Also, the myths exaggerate mortal battles, which entices the reader to want more. The themes of morality are still applicable today which is why I highly recommend that you to read these wonderful ancient writings.

Written by Brooks

Wonderland BookSavers: What We Do and Why We Do It

Written together by Reid and Madeline

What do we do, and why we do it?

In Wonderland BookSavers, we donate books to kids all around the world because we think every kid should be able to know how to read and be able to read. Reading is a big part of life, and if you don’t know how to read, there are many things you cannot do. We donate our books to people for free!

-Reid

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boxes of our books

How do we imagine new ideas and ways to help people?

Education is critical for success in life. It provides people with the ability to help themselves instead of relying on others. The adage “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” attests to this perfectly. We feel that donating books is a creative and impactful way to help people, and the simple act of reading a book can have drastic impacts.

-Madeline

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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” -Frederick Douglass

How did we begin DI (Destination Imagination) and what prompted us to become involved?

Wonderland BookSavers began it’s DI journey in the 2012-2013 school year, shortly after the founding of our charity in September 2012. The challenge we competed in that year was “Real to Reel.” In that challenge, we had to create a video about our project. We realized that in completing the DI challenge, we also had taken a significant step in our charity: we have continued to use our video to promote our charity. Each year, when we complete the DI challenge, we find that we have made a major accomplishment for our charity. Participating in DI not only provides a fun, creative, and educational experience, but also provides us with skills such as movie making, promoting our charity, and giving elevator pitches.

-Madeline

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preparing our props before our DI play 

What inspires us to continue donating books?

Wonderland Booksavers has had many book donations and a lot of kids have been sending us thank you notes, which makes us happy. Also, we have donated over 60,000 books and every book we donate inspires us to do more. To see the smiles on the kids faces when they get a book makes all of us happy and inspires us more!

-Reid

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Connecticut children making Poster Pals for our friends in Haiti

Where do we get the books, shoes, and school supplies?

Our very first book donation occurred after we discovered that our local library was de-accessing books by the thousand. The de-accessed books were then sent to a shredding company to be made into newspaper! We were appalled to find that this was a common practice amongst libraries. We decided to intervene, and we asked the library if we could take the books, complete the de-accessing process, and donate the books to New Beginnings Family Academy, a local school lacking books. The library agreed, and, since then, we have continued to save books from being shredded. We also hold book drives to collect books. Currently, we are also working on a project to sign 2,000 people up on our First Book form. If 2,000 people sign up, then First Book will donate us 40,000 free, new books. We collect our school supplies and shoes mostly from drives we hold at local schools and churches.

-Madeline

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our first book donation to New Beginnings Family Academy in 2012

Wonderland BookSavers win the Destination Imagination States Competition!

By Madeline

Today, Team WBS competed in the Connecticut States Destination Imagination Tournament. After driving one and a half hours to arrive at Connecticut College for the Destination Imagination competition, we unpacked our props, practiced, and eagerly awaited the time to present our play.

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preparing for the states competition

Our practice and preparation paid off! Each team member did an amazing job remembering lines and cues, and created an engaging, theatrical representation of our project.

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organizing our props before the play started

In the afternoon, we partook in a hat-making contest, where we attached our team flag to a paper cup/duct tape/paper plate hat constructed Brooks Morgan and the rest of the team. After we created the hat, we marched around in the parade of teams, and then we took our seats for the awards ceremony. After much anticipation, our division was called, and we discovered that we had won first place! We are now looking forward to the next level of competition: The Destination Imagination Global Finals, which will be held in May. The team has worked tirelessly, and we are all excited to progress to the next level.

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after the awards ceremony with our medals

Thank you Destination Imagination for helping us imagine the world as a better place with one book, one child, and one school at a time!

Team Wonderland BookSavers Heads to Destination Imagination States

By Madeline

Months of hard work is about to come to fruition. Every year, Team WBS competes in the competition Destination Imagination. The Destination Global Finals are held every year in Knoxville, Tennessee, and teams ranging from elementary age students to college students participate in five different categories of challenges and four different age groups. Students 45 states and 17 countries will be participating at the Global Finals.

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At the globals competition in 2015

However, in order to qualify for Globals, we must win first place in our division at the Connecticut State competition. The challenge this year is dubbed “The Meme Event” and in this challenge our team was required to make a meme to promote our project, create a timeline with specific dates and locations regarding our project, and hold a community event to integrate our community in our service work. Destination Imagination has helped our team with requirements in past projects. The first year Wonderland BookSavers competed in DI, we had to make a video about our project. The second year we had to incorporate an elevator pitch. In our third year, we were required to expand our team’s brand, and create a jingle. All these past requirements have proved to be useful in expanding our project.

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We chose to use our Haitian-Creole book and Sneetch-Event project as our featured project in our DI challenge, and we have created a play incorporating our steps, successes, and failed aspects of this project.

The team has worked tirelessly on this project since September, and we are eager to compete at the states level of Destination Imagination tomorrow. Wish us luck!

The Book That Almost Flew Away

Written by Brooks Morgan

Reid had a birthday party and some of his friends and family attended his party. Among the attending was Brooks. They all had a fun time bouncing around Bounce U, a popular birthday party place. After the party Reid received his presents! One of his presents was a $20 gift card to Barnes & Nobles. He could get so many books there! The card even came attached to balloons! The employees of Bounce U put all of Reid’s presents on a cart and started walking toward his car. All of the sudden, a gust of wind blew away the balloons, and the card attached to it flew high up into the air. Reid was devastated. Luckily for Reid, the card dragged down the balloons closer and closer to the ground. Just when they though they would get their card and balloons back, it landed at the top of a 30 foot tree!

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Brooks was not going to let a couple of new books go to waste so he used his climbing skills for a good cause. He climbed and climbed and climbed until finally he was standing at the very last sturdy branch. He looked up and saw that the balloons and the card were only a few feet above him! What was he going to do? He could not reach the cards or balloon, so he started to think. After a minute or two he had an idea. He held onto the branch that the ballons were stuck on and shook and shook and shook and shook. The balloons were too tangled to fall down! He did not give up though, and after about 20 minutes of shaking, the card finally dropped to the ground! He climbed back down and held the card over his head triumphantly.

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He had won the card back! He handed the card to his younger brother, Reid, who said with a huge smile,

“Thank you so much!”