children’s libraries

Fall Renewal: 10,000 Books for Zimbabwe; 100 Pen Pal Letters Exchanged

As summer comes to an end, many schools along the East Coast begin preparing for the new school year. This means clearing out their shelves. For us, at Wonderland BookSavers, this is an excellent time of year. We hopped in our Suburban and began visiting our favorite schools from Massachusetts to Connecticut.

IMG_1560

The Wetherbee School, in Massachusetts, has been especially generous. They truly understand the concept of charity. Working with their teachers, school children help to determine books, games and “manipulatives” as well as classroom posters and other tools that are no longer needed. Students then organize, prepare and box items for shipment to Africa. They are so excited and happy to know that they are actively helping other children. They compete for the opportunity to load our Suburban and take photos with us!

IMG_1562

As members of a Title I school, the children here are themselves frequent recipients of aid. Hailing from at least 35 countries, with many of the children describing rice and beans as their favorite food, these students eagerly share stories of daily life in America.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although it takes almost one year for their Pen Pal letters to make a round trip from Mbembeswana Primary School in Zimbabwe to Wetherbee School in Lawrence MA, they are thrilled that they can share their love of books, games and food with African children. We are so grateful to be the conduit for this truly snail-paced child-to-child mail system.

IMG_2208IMG_2207IMG_2206

Many other schools have been eager to help us in our mission to spread literacy. Librarians eagerly contact us as they prepare for the new school year.

They are delighted that their favorite books will keep inspiring children.

IMG_1542

And we are happy to help them box and relocate their books from their libraries to our fabulous sorting area: our garage!

IMG_1438IMG_9901.JPG

Here we sort our books by age, subject, and intended destination, so that each region will get appropriate material. Some countries require us to weigh and quantify every box. Finally, we load our boxes onto trucks.

IMG_9905.JPGIMG_1437IMG_9906.JPG

From here they get loaded onto shipping containers and finally set off on their long journey across the sea, to another continent, 10,000 books, school supplies, pencils, crayons, and most importantly, 100’s of letters of encouragement from children just like themselves in America.

IMG_9907.JPGThe Wonderland BookSavers are grateful to have been able to connect so many children from across the continents and to inspire a shared love of reading, our tagline: Inspired by Literature!

“Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Boxing Books: An Inspirational Visit by Sebastian

One day last summer, I went for what I thought was going to be a regular day of hanging out with my new friends Pierce, Brooks, Emma, Claire, and Maddie from my school, little did I know I’d end up crashing a Wonderland BookSavers meeting and boxing books in their garage and having an absolute blast!!! But besides having fun, I was mostly deeply inspired by their dedicated work to bring books and literature to those without. When I got in the car to go home, I told to my mom I’d felt like I’d been wasting so much of my life when I could have been really making a difference in the world. I am so inspired by my friends and since then I’ve tried to help in any way I can.

sojourner-truth_0

My pastor likes to quote Sojourner Truth’s wise words that “Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff,” and for me it was really amazing to see my friends, my very same age, making such a direct and tangible difference for humanity.

During the week, I live in Brooklyn, so I figured maybe I could help by reaching out to schools in my community there. Two amazing private schools in Brooklyn were just as inspired by Wonderland BookSavers and were eager to contribute.

The first school to reach out to us was The Berkeley Carroll School. Berkeley Carroll has been so incredibly generous to the Wonderland BookSavers mission— Thank you Berkeley Carroll! The librarians there, Ms. Briar Suaro and Ms. Kristine Hartley-Maneri, have been so kind in reaching out whenever they have books to share and have donated some 50 boxes of books to date!

WBS Sebastian 1

The Brooklyn Friends School was also eager to contribute and offered us a great number of books as well. For the first pick-up, Ms. Ryan and I arranged to meet at the entrance where they could most easily unload the books on Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn. Picking up books on one-way streets in Brooklyn can always be a little tricky — you usually have to block a little traffic but we try to do it quickly! — and Ms. Ryan warned us we’d have to do some slightly illegal maneuvering in order to get to the unloading spot. But as it turned out, we never had to worry about that because when we went to pick up the books that day we discovered a street fair! A two-block radius around Brooklyn Friends had been blocked off and filled with street vendors! Never daunted, the kind custodian of the school loaned me a dolly so that I could wheel the books down Willoughby Street to where my mom was waiting with the car on the other side. I wonder if those books will always have a faint kabob smell?

WBS Sebastian 2 WBS Sebastian 3

Here we are re-boxing books into smaller boxes in Brooklyn before bringing them up to Connecticut to the Barry’s garage!

WBS Sebastian 4

We also live upstate on the weekends and so I started looking around up there for other opportunities to find books for Wonderland BookSavers too. We found two libraries that were willing to donate all the books they had left over after their annual book sale fundraisers. First we visited the Pawling library, who kindly gave us a generous stack of books (they will be able to give us even more this spring!) And then we visited the Patterson library. Ms. Graham at the Patterson Library so generously offered to donate all of the remainder children’s books from their library! Thank you Patterson Public Library!

WBS Sebastian 5 WBS Sebastian 6

Finally, we brought the books to the Barry’s garage!

WBS Sebastian 7 WBS Sebastian 8

Oh and that’s my sister Emmeline — she has been helping with all of the book moving and packing too and says “Wonderland BookSavers really is a Wonderland because it’s so fun and also kind-of like Magic.” I think she said it perfectly.

Summer Camp: Service Style! Dedicated to Susan Ei

A bookmark printed by the St. Francis Indian Mission in St. Francis, South Dakota has the following Indian prayer: “Great Spirit — Grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Hearsay attributes the prayer to Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians.

IMG_2034

Before departing this earth, our children’s librarian, Susan Ei, encouraged us to create a Summer Service Day Camp where we could share our knowledge of the world with local kids, and create a fun learning environment that would spark both compassion and enthusiasm for others through literature and service.

global-kids

We decided to tackle this task by geographic region, and by thinking about the people to whom we most commonly donate. We wanted to be sure to include literature, crafts, games, education and a service project in each day’s meeting.

wbs-african-children-5

Africa We began with Africa because we have donated so many books to multiple countries in Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda. We read Patience Mariza Goes for Water by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a native of Uganda, who has built a school for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

IMG_1231

 

 

This story, although a picture book for children, is very revealing. Patience is faced with unimaginable hardships that a storybook American child would never encounter. She is beaten by her aunt, and accosted by a strange man, worried she may have AIDS, and exhausted by her daily trek in search of clean water. Eventually, she is adopted by a kind grandmother.

 

Many children in Africa walk to school, sometimes several miles, barefoot. Shoes can be made from found objects. We helped our campers understand this by helping them create their own shoes from found objects and then experimented to see how far they could walk….(not far!)

IMG_1184

They also decorated donation boxes that they brought from home and filled with their own shoes so that they could share these with others.

IMG_1235

Haiti To begin our lesson on Haiti we read Tap-Tap by Karen Lynn Williams.

IMG_1215This warm, funny story is about a girl who goes to the market with her mother and after making a little extra money she and her mother are able to ride the taxi-bus home (tap-tap) instead of walking.

We know from our relationship with our friends at Haitian Education Initiatives, that a major part of Haitian children’s education is learning to make things they can sell in the market.

In particular, children learn to sew and to make painted paper-maché bowls. After the Tap-Tap story, our campers sewed beanbags and made painted bowls. They were very beautiful, but perhaps not yet ready to be sold at the market,

IMG_0849

Native Americans Having just returned from South Dakota, we had many stories and adventures to share. We also read Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac and Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson.  These stories told of the bravery and beauty of the American Indians as well as some of their beliefs and dreams.

The Native Americans believe that Dream Catchers can catch bad dreams and spirits while you sleep and keep you safe.

Our campers made Dream Catchers from found objects, feathers and beads.

gbfood2

Food Lottery Each day, like every wholesome American Day Camp we had Snack Time. Who doesn’t? Well, many of the children we help don’t have snack time. We discussed this each day, and one day we decided it was time to emphasize what that might mean. Each child drew a piece of paper from a basket. Those with an X were given a snack. No X, No Snack. This was a pretty shocking moment, and after a while some pretty human responses occurred. Some kids “stole” some snacks. Some kids secretly “shared” their snacks with others. Some were publicly outraged, while they gobbled their own snacks. Politics as usual.

Read to Feed We wanted to emphasize that reading is for everyone. We brought in a basket of books, the ones we usually donate, and had the campers choose their own books.

Then we made posters and made a Read to Feed program for our local library. Children can be sponsored to read and by reading they can help purchase farm animals that can bring food to a family or village in another community. (Heifer Project)

IMG_1169 (1)

Appalachia We have been donating books and building children’s libraries through Project Appalachia since 2012 so we are pretty committed to helping children in this region.

IMG_1232

We read Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds by Cynthia Rylant and Barry Moser. We also discussed other American communities that are in need of books and supplies. There are kids that need books and supplies that live in our own communities and we need to reach out and help them as well as helping kids that live far away.

Our campers decorated boxes and brought them home to be filled with books that they could donate to children who would love to own their own books.

Around the World and Banana Ball We also played many fun games, like an African version of soccer played with a ball made from banana leaves (although of course we didn’t have any real banana leaves) and “around the world” frisbee.

Hospitalized children We always remember kids who are sick in hospitals. So we talked about illness and had the campers put together care packages of painted bags filled with our Knot-Yet-a-Blanket kits and poetry books.

IMG_1222

Lemonade for Literacy Our final project was to involve our campers, and our community, in our annual lemonade stand.

IMG_1230

Our Summer Service Camp jointly donated and boxed hundreds of shoes, books and school supplies, and created many Blanket Gift Bags. They had walked in handmade shoes, made dream catchers, fought over food, read stories from around the world, and committed to continue reading on their own.

img_5742

It’s time to create global literacy with lemons!

Cheyenne River Reservation: Simply Smiles

While we were delivering books to Pine Ridge Reservation, we received an email from Brian, founder of Simply Smiles, an NGO that supports Cheyenne River Reservation.

IMG_0851

Pow Wow location at Cheyenne River Reservation

He said, quite simply, “Cheyenne River Reservation is only about 4-5 hours from Pine Ridge. In South Dakota, that’s like going out for a cup of coffee…” Well, we kind of laughed about that, because after spending some time in South Dakota we knew what he meant. It takes hours and hours to go from one place to another, and as noted by Emma, you can never use the GPS. Only a map will work.

IMG_0974

After ditching our trailer, and packing our Suburban to the top with boxes of books, we decided we were up for the challenge. We restocked our peanut butter and jelly, refilled our water bottles, and set out on our journey.

IMG_0853

We did run into a 30-minute roadblock of one car, not that unusual we found, and, of course, miles of empty, sandy roads.

IMG_0841

Visiting the Simply Smiles community center, located in Sam Different Horse’s community building on the Cheyenne River Reservation was amazing. Brian and Zachary and their team are welcomed into the Lakota culture. The volunteers all have close relationships with the community.

IMG_0822

The wind blew incessantly, but fortunately the community center had one indoor room and we were able to set up a series of folding tables and create an entire room for our “free” book fair.

IMG_0835

The kids were really excited and grabbed as many books as they could carry. That evening Simply Smiles was hosting a reservation-wide dinner. All the parents and grandparents were able to also come and choose books for their families.

IMG_0838

One woman shyly asked if she could keep some of our better-conditioned cardboard boxes to use as furniture to store her clothing in her new home. We were humbled by this simple request.

Simply Smiles imports soil and has created functioning gardens that produce enough food to feed a substantial portion of the local community.

IMG_0848

The greenhouse was built when Simply Smiles volunteers and Lakota Indians worked together. Zachary explained how difficult it was to stretch the plastic sheeting over the metal hoops and secure it down while battling the constant wind. We could barely imagine. The paper flowers are remnants from the previous night’s decorations when the greenhouse served as a teen dance hall.

We have continued our relationship with the Cheyenne River Reservation kids, inviting some of them to our home when they were traveling near us, visiting NYC. They joined us for dinners, swimming and basketball on several occasions. We have supported Brian at local fundraisers for Simply Smiles. We are so grateful that we have had this opportunity to get to know some of the Lakota kids and we hope to see them again. To learn more about the efforts to sustain the Lakota peoples of the Cheyenne River Reservation: Simply Smiles

Enjoy a film our team made about our trip to the three reservations: Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River:

 

 

Pine Ridge Reservation: Red Shirt Table

By Emma

Hey Siri!  Pull up maps…oh wait…

IMG_0567

Here in South Dakota, as we wandered on and off of the reservations, in search of the correct entrance to Pine Ridge Reservation, we discovered that our cell phone services and online maps let us down. We learned this only after driving hours through undulating lands surrounded by miles of prairie grass and getting lost after driving hour upon hour in the wrong direction.  Learning opportunity!  We had to drag out this huge Atlas, which I hadn’t seen since I was 3, when they were still being used, to navigate where we were going. On the upside, notice there is no problem pulling over on the highway and standing in the middle of the road, bare foot discussing our next move!

 

IMG_0691

Site of Massacre of Wounded Knee – Pine Ridge Reservation

We did finally make it to Pine Ridge Reservation, but getting to Red Shirt Table was another matter…

IMG_0710

We were thrilled to see some friends from back home, and we were welcomed with a picnic lunch and water bottles.  After that it was time to get to work.  We decided to set up the books over 3 picnic tables so that the children could choose their own books.  Here it may look like Quinn is being lazy, actually he is holding onto the books to keep them from blowing away in the constant wind!

The whole trip was made worthwhile when we got to read the children their new personal books

and watch them collect more and more.

IMG_0764

We also got to play with the children on the playground, and in a game of kickball.

IMG_0765

It was really saddening playing with these children, and then learning of their unimaginable situations at home, yet it helped us to understand why the children were so grateful, and it continued to motivate us to help them more.

IMG_0792We were inspired by the determination of this lovely girl to bring home a boxful of books for her younger siblings.  We hope to follow her example!

(Y)Our Books Arrive: Ghana & South Africa!

wbs-african-children-6

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” e.e.cummings

wbs-african-children-1

In this case, it is our books that we have found, resurfacing after their long journey at sea.

posingwithmarkandbooks img_6183

Many of you will remember that all summer and fall we packed and sorted thousands of books, ultimately sending 15,000 beautiful children’s books to both Ghana and South Africa.

img_6111These books have a long journey, spending several weeks in metal containers before finally being loaded onto the ships that will carry them across the ocean and to the African continent. From there they must make it through customs and be loaded onto trucks and bump along through towns and villages until they finally reach their intended destination: children who love to read!img_1465

We are so excited to receive some photos of children enjoying these books! It is so much fun to realize that although these children are so very far away, in another sense, we are really all part of one world, enjoying the same stories and jokes and learning about the world from the same books.wbs-african-children-5Today we are truly able to say that we are fulfilling our mission,

“Helping children realize the magical awesomeness of reading!”wbs-african-children-2

Please continue donating children’s books! We have recently received an urgent request from some  parentless children in Kenya who would love some new books. We are working to gather books and help with shipping costs so these children too can enjoy imaginary tales and learn from science and history books.

global-kids

With your help we can continue to improve global literacy, at home and around the world. Many thanks, always! The Wonderland BookSavers!

Lemonade for Literacy

by Madeline

This past week, Pequot Library held its annual book sale. Pequot Library’s annual book sale has been dubbed the biggest and the best book sale in New England.pequotbooksalesignFor the last four years, Wonderland BookSavers has run a “Lemonade for Literacy” stand during the book sale. The purpose of Lemonade for Literacy is to raise donations to purchase books from Pequot Library’s book sale, and then donate those books. The books we obtained this year via Lemonade for Literacy and Pequot Library’s book sale will be going to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. lemonadestand3To prepare our stand and concessions, we spruced up some of our old signs and banners and created some new signs with recent pictures of our service work so customers could see the children we serve.

Each night, we baked new batches of brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats. Every morning before we went to the library, we made a new batch of homemade lemonade. We arrived at the library in the late morning each day to settle ourselves and set up our stand. We propped up a piece of plywood as a table on top of wooden crates, and then swept a yellow and white table cloth over our table. Next, we put our cooler filled with our ice cold lemonade to one side of our stand, and we arrayed our baked goods across the rest of the table. lemonadestand1Instead of having fixed prices on our commodities, we had all our goods priced by donation.

We ran our stand from about 11 AM to 4 PM each day of the book sale. We had many customers, but during the slower times of day, we passed time playing Apples to Apples, UNO, and reading books.

On the last day of the book sale, instead of running Lemonade for Literacy, we selected books from inside the expansive white tent, and then used our $212.50 that we raised through our lemonade stand to purchase 1,500 books.lemonadestand10Through our Lemonade for Literacy stand, we were able to benefit our longtime community partner Pequot Library while collecting books to donate to children in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

 

Team Wonderland BookSavers Leads Medieval Art Workshop at Pequot Library

By Madeline

Last week, WBS team members Madeline, Claire, Emma and Brooks Morgan led a medieval art workshop at Pequot Library. We examined medieval literature, reflecting especially on the process of creating manuscripts. We also instructed on how to create illuminated manuscripts and write in different cursive styles. Additionally, we read medieval stories and taught Roman Numerals and the medieval calendar system–which operates by recognizing certain days and showing the distance of regular days from the special days to account for time.

During the Middle Ages, manuscripts were one of the few viable ways to preserve information. These books were created by first making parchment. The process of making parchment consisted of first obtaining goat or cow skin. Next, the skin would be soaked in water and lye and cleaned to remove any fibers. The skin would then be stretched to dry, and lastly, the skin would be cut into pieces of parchment. The parchment would then be sewn into gatherings, and the gatherings would be bound into a book. Lastly, clasps would be added to keep the book shut and protect the manuscript. Then, scribes would embark on the lengthy process of copying information into the book, and illuminating certain letters. Lastly, any images would be drawn or painted and the book would be complete.

On the first day, we along with Beth Beaudin, the Special Collections Consultant of Pequot Library, surveyed the process of manuscript making. We also began to teach basic cursive to the children.

Every day we had a snack and recess break, where we played “discus” (frisbee) and “Bubonic Plague” (the game infection, where one person is “it”, and they along with people who have been tagged tag others until only one person is left). We also played “capture the crown”, which was our medieval version of capture the flag.

During the second day we introduced calligraphic cursive styles and how to write in medieval handwriting. The children transcribed poems and also practiced writing their names. We taught the children about the medieval calendar and how to use Roman Numerals. Towards the end of the day, everyone began creating the skeletons for their illuminated letters. We also visited The Birds of America, a book by John James Audubon with a compilation of life-size, chromolithographic American birds.

For the third day, we focused on nobility, coats of arms, and finishing the illuminated letters. Everyone was able to design and create a coat of arms to wear which represented their interests or personality. The zenith of the week was being able to examine a book made in 1190–the oldest book in Pequot Library’s collection. The manuscript was a letter from Pope Gregory on proper behavior and conduct. We also had a guest speaker come and teach about Shakespeare, and we acted out scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

1190book

Examining the manuscript from 1190

 

shakespearefairies.JPG

The fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On the final day of camp, everyone made crowns and armor, finished the cursive books which we began on Monday, and reflected on everything learned during the week. The children collected their amassed number of projects, crowns, letters, books and sheets, and we headed out to play our final game of “capture the crown”.

crownscoatofarms

Campers wearing crowns and coats of arms

It was incredible to immerse ourselves and other children in medieval studies, and we will look forward to continuing the medieval theme with the reading program this summer at Pequot Library.

 

 

 

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.

idabooks.JPG

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.

Sweet Seuss Success!!

Some of you may remember this forlorn collection of Dr. Seuss books owned by a local school library.

IMG_1989

The librarian requested that we assist her with Dr. Seuss books for her collection. She stated, “Dr. Seuss is a favorite.  The easy rhyme schemes are appealing to children and greatly aid early literacy efforts.”  We posted the request on our home page and Pequot Library noticed!

Pequot Library hosts an annual Book Sale for which it collects thousands of books.

IMG_2451The Director selected multiple Dr. Seuss titles. The school librarian was able to purchase these books through the Bucks for Books program.

download (1)Look for our special Dr. Seuss reading program which we will be doing with both libraries this summer and fall, featuring The Sneetches and Other Stories from our One Book: One World program.

sneetch machine Zax