Posted by Mary on 09.29.2006 at 12:27 pm
Recently, I was on the United Nations Website as I know that the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has long been a strong supporter of literacy to combat poverty worldwide.
I was surprised to find in his Executive Summary of the Millenium Report: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century, an alarming chapter on the environment.
In addition to freedom from want and from fear, Mr. Annan writes, the world now faces an urgent need to realize a third freedom, which the UN’s founders could not have anticipated: “the freedom of future generations to sustain their lives on this planet”. He continues, “We have been plundering our children’s heritage to pay for environmentally unsustainable practices in the present.”
Environmental sustainability is everybody’s challenge. I am very proud of the fact that Better World Books philosophy is congruent with Kofi Annan’s plea to protect the health of our planet. We have saved more than 1,200 tons (over 5 million pounds) of books from the landfill….and we have never thrown one book away.
We couldn’t have achieved this without our student organizations taking the lead on campus. It’s amazing to think that at a University with an undergraduate enrollment of 5,000 students…and each student has, on average, 5 college books with an ISBN # in a given semester…..there are 25,000 books that could be used to help others. Donating a textbook is such a simple, yet powerful way to make a difference!
Posted by admin on 09.29.2006 at 7:37 am
Check out the new website for the National Center for Family Literacy at www.famlit.org. You can find information about the partnership with Better World Books on the front page under success stories!
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, Impact, Links, NCFL, Our Partners
Posted by admin on 09.29.2006 at 7:07 am
In the Spring of 2006, Better World Books coordinated book drives at 32 schools in the state of Michigan, totaling close to 20,000 books. Michigan State University collected the most books of any school in Michigan, sending in over 5,000 books. The book drive at Michigan State was lead by their “Books 4 Africa” student group. All the books collected in that drive went to benefit Books for Africa.
With over 150 colleges and universities in the state of Michigan, I hope we can have a lot of success with book drives there this year. I expect to see a lot of healthy competition between the The University of Michigan and Michigan State University to see who can bring in more books.
The Michigan Region of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society of the 2 year college, is encouraging all of their chapters to run a book drive with Better World Books this year. I am expecting great things from the state of Michigan this year! Below is a picture from the MSU B4A student group:
Posted by admin on 09.28.2006 at 9:13 am
Believe it or not, there are millions of children and families who want to read but don’t have access to libraries or worthy resources.
That is about to change for thousands of American Indian families. Much needed books are making their way to American Indian parents and children in family literacy programs across the nation thanks to Better World Books and the National Center for Family Literacy.
The effort will support the literacy development of families participating in the Family and Child Education (FACE) program funded by the Bureau of Indian Education and in operation in states including Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico and Mississippi. The FACE program is coordinated by NCFL and is the nation’s longest running family literacy program.
Many of the sites are located in remote desert or plains areas where there are no main libraries and schools have limited resources, according to NCFL. More than 25,000 books will be given to families with children birth to eight-years-old.
“We’re going to be providing books to a lot of families that just don’t have books in the home,” said NCFL’s Sharyl Emberton who coordinates NCFL’s services to the FACE program. “Families who attend programs in these schools will be able to select a variety of books. They will be able to build their own home libraries.”
The high-quality books are the result of partnerships with over 500 local libraries who give their discarded and donated books to Better World Books to benefit their literacy partners.
Better World Books initiated its partnership with NCFL immediately following the 2005 Hurricane Season to provide a long-term solution to the social and economic devastation and has contributed more than $80,000 of cash funding to support the organization’s literacy initiatives.
In addition to the FACE program, NCFL works with literacy programs throughout the U.S., helping families in need gain necessary literacy skills. Each year, NCFL programs help more than 60,000 individuals by supporting programs including the Hispanic Learning Institute, the Bureau of Indian Education’s Family and Child Education program, and—most recently—providing relief to families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, American Indians, FACE, Impact, libraries, NCFL
Posted by admin on 09.28.2006 at 7:44 am
Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society of two year colleges, has announced that Al Gore will be the keynote speaker at their International Convention in Nashville, TN in the spring of 2007. As part of the environmental theme, PTK’s international service project this year is Operation Green.
I am so excited to see that an honors society and service organization as large and influental as PTK is taking to heart the messages we are continually seeing in the media about the environmental crisis our planet is experiencing.
I saw the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and watched the Tom Brokaw special on the Discovery Channel called “Global Warming: What You Need to Know” and I was inspired to take action and make an impact. I went out and bought the energy saving lightbulbs, and I have been trying to recycle more, and think about my energy and gas consumption. I know that it seems small, and like these actions don’t get us anywhere, but it is when a group of people make these changes, and influence the decisions of others that change really takes place.
A Better World Books book drive is a great opportunity to take action and empower yourself, your student organization, your community, to come together and take action. By leading a book drive on your campus you will be encouraging students to donate their no-value books rather then throw them in the trash. Thousands of students have made this choice, and the result has been 5 million pounds of books being diverted from the landfill through the BWB book drive program.
“By the year 2100, in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren, our world will be a drastically different place,” says Tom Brokaw in the Discovery Channel documentary.
For the students in this country, the young people, this is our future. Now is the time to take action.
Posted by admin on 09.22.2006 at 12:23 pm
Can literacy prevent fires? I say yes, at least for certain kinds. I believe the link of illiteracy to poverty, disease, and violence cannot be ignored. Yesterday I was reading about the current discussions at the United Nations. It seems like most of the talks at the UN are taken up by a countless crises like Iran’s nuclear program, or the Darfur crisis in Sudan (though it seems that Darfur should get more attention, considering its a full-on genocide – but that’s just me). Debates among top government officials revolve around extinguishing metaphorical fires around the globe.
Terrorism, genocide, and undisclosed nuclear weapons programs definitely indicate a bleak and frightening future unless we find some solutions – and find them fast – so I can’t say I blame the UN for the current discussions. When 200,000 people have been killed, and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes into refugee camps in Darfur, it’s not surprising that fighting poverty, establishing basic health care, building infrastructure, or developing education is taking a backseat.
As I was reading about it all in the paper, part of me feared that these horrible crises might never come to an end. I mentioned before that the link of illiteracy to poverty, disease, and violence cannot be ignored. Of course, the UN and developed countries provide a great deal of aid to fight poverty, which I’m not discounting, but perhaps we need more groups that are specifically focused on literacy. There is a frightening percentage of the world’s population that can’t read (20% — that’s one in five people).
Without access to quality education, democracy cannot function and intolerance cannot be overcome. It may be a bold statement to say that literacy will prevent genocide, but I definitely believe it. As governments need to put out fires around the world, perhaps we need more groups like Books for Africa, Room to Read, NCFL, and Worldfund to help prevent fires in the first place.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, africa, Impact, literacy
Posted by admin on 09.21.2006 at 4:20 pm
Some people may argue that funding literacy programs abroad, sending Western books overseas, training teachers, or building educational infrastructure will inevitably further export Western culture and contribute to Western cultural imperialism. Others may argue that literacy programs in places like Latin America, Asia, and Africa will ultimately tamper with indigenous cultures by flooding them with materialism and capitalist propaganda, transforming charming native peoples into willing consumers fluent in Western values. I remember reading the transcript from an interview with a prominent American politician who claimed that the U.S. economy will benefit from the economic and educational betterment of developing countries, be it through the buying power they will later hold or the human talent they will produce.
I backpacked throughout the former communist bloc of Central and East Europe in the mid-1990s. Particularly in rural Romania, the landscapes were dotted with subsistence farmers, and horse drawn carriages far outnumbered cars. Foreign influence was difficult to find from what I saw, and I remember seeing only one “Western” business (McDonald’s, of course) in the downtown district of a mid-sized city. Although official numbers indicate high literacy rates in Romania, the economic despair of the countryside meant the lack of opportunity written as anguish on the people’s faces. People of the same age as I, with the bulk of their lives ahead of them to establish self-worth and enjoy personal achievement, faced an immediate future of high unemployment, poor infrastructure, corruption, and limited access to resources enjoyed by highly-industrialized countries.
If “the West” brings its educational resources to a country in which they previously did not exist, a footprint is forever left on that culture. Whatever your opinion of these effects may be, they snowball in an influence to be felt for centuries. Contemporary German, for example, is loaded with technical terms and colloquialisms imported from America. Assuming the anecdotal story I heard is accurate, contemporary English is approximately 40% French in origin, all of this as the result of a relatively short Norman occupation. Imported culture may not only influence language, but with the deepest personal values of a people. Asian youth are repeatedly accused of rejecting traditionalism in favor of “Western” ideals. One may argue that a culture takes millennia to develop, but is irrevocably changed the second it comes in contact with foreign influence. But who is to say these transformations should be considered negative? Are they infections or simply a dialogue with other world cultures?
When returning to rural Romania again several years later, I noticed the economic progress the country had made in the short time I was away. More cars filled the streets, shops slowly filled empty historic districts, and tractors worked a few fields. I was surprised by the considerable progress that had been made. Yet I overheard several other tourists commenting about how sad it was that rural Romania was modernizing, and that they were not having the kind of authentic Old World experience they had years before. I listened to them with disgust for their selfishness. As I have discussed with a few individuals from Better World Books before, I wonder how people can be so self-centered as to say to a people, “Stay in the past so we can have a more enjoyable vacation.”
Importing literacy and education does not mean the death of a culture, but rather the birth of a Culture of Literacy, one that embraces the future while honoring the past. Respecting a culture does not mean resisting progress and rejecting a higher standard of living; respecting a culture involves documenting it as best as we can in its full integrity and vigor, while marrying indigenous traditions and values within the scope of a more capable culture progressing with the rest of the world. Literacy gives individuals the tools to record their own history, experience new ones, and join the world on its march towards an ever-increasingly higher standard of living. It’s astonishingly selfish to curse anyone to forever sweat with hand tools while sitting in an air-conditioned rail car bound for a 4-star hotel.
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, literacy, personal accounts, travel
Posted by admin on 09.19.2006 at 12:23 pm
(Posted by Better World Books alum, Natasha Harris)
This summer, I was chosen to be part of a Books For Africa/Better World Books delegation which spent over two weeks in the countries of Ethiopia and Tanzania. The trip was incredible in every possible respect. We were able to visit numerous schools, non-profits, and libraries that have been recipients of books sent through Books For Africa.
Our travels brought us in contact with very many fantastic organizations and wonderful people; however, my very favorite experience was at the Mtopepo B Primary School on the island of Zanzibar. On that day, we were honored on stage alongside top USAID officials and Michael Retzer, the US Ambassador to Tanzania, for the direct support we’ve helped provide to Zanzibar’s school system. The ceremony was a lot of fun: our host school had obviously put a lot of effort into planning the event, and it went off without a hitch.
My favorite part of the day actually came after the ceremony was over, when we had the opportunity to walk around and visit different classes. A number of the younger children went directly back to class, but many of about age eight and over were more or less just lounging about in the open courtyard where the ceremony had been held. I went up and joined a group of them, and before I knew it I was overtaken in this massive crowd of beautiful, happy children. The group closed in on me and we were all jumping up and down together, laughing. It was one of those experiences where you can’t even really remember how it began, but you know even at the time that you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.
Part of my love for Better World Books stems from my love of children. I’m glad to work for an organization that helps create and further opportunities for youth around the world. I’ll never meet most of the children we help benefit, but I know they’re out there and I know I’m helping make their lives just that much better. For me, this single moment on this one beautiful day represented a reward much greater than the recognition we received at the ceremony. It was my favorite day in Africa.
Have your say » | Tagged Impact, Our Partners, africa, books for africa, Impact, Natasha, personal accounts
Posted by admin on 09.13.2006 at 7:16 am
The Better World Books Library Team sent out the very first Quarterly Newsletter in early September! Over 900 librarians across the U.S. received the Fall 2006 version. If you would like to learn more about the Better World Books Library Discards & Donations Program, make sure you sign-up for our newsletter today!
Have your say » | Tagged Uncategorized, library, newsletter
Posted by admin on 09.08.2006 at 4:14 pm
Here’s a PR from National Center for Family Literacy, promoting International Literacy Day…
Help Celebrate International Literacy Day Sept. 8
Louisville , KY – (September 8, 2006) New learning opportunities await families and children every day, it’s just a matter of looking in the right places, including the local newspaper.
Celebrate International Literacy Day Sept. 8 and begin a ritual of lifelong learning with the 2006 Literacy Tabloid presented by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, Verizon and the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL).
Titled “Newspaper Inspiration: New Generation,” the 16-page tabloid is offered to newspapers and features engaging articles and activities, all geared towards making reading the local newspaper a family affair.
The tabloid ran in more than 400 newspapers throughout the nation last year with a combined circulation of more than 25,000,000.
“Newspapers provide a daily source of learning opportunities for parents and children and are especially important even in this age of MP3 players and podcasts, instant messaging and other high-tech ‘infotainment’,” said Sharon Darling, president & founder of NCFL.
The literacy information and activities included in the tabloid are drawn from the latest research from NCFL’s qualified experts including:
• Activities to improve reading and math comprehension
• Parent resources
• Word games
• Literacy volunteer opportunities
Thirty-four million adults have such low literacy skills that reading newspapers or books to their children or filling out a job application is nearly impossible.
“Making reading the newspaper a family experience will give parents quality time with their children while instilling a love of reading and desire to know more about their world,” said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston.
The free tabloid comes in InDesign and PDF files on a CD and can be ordered at the NAAF Web site at www.naafoundation.org/foundation/LitTab06/.
For more information, call Marvin Young of NCFL at (502) 584-1133 x173.
The National Center for Family Literacy, the worldwide leader in family literacy, was founded in Louisville in 1989. NCFL has impacted 1 million families and trained 150,000 teachers, practitioners and advocates. To learn more or to donate to this effort, call 1-877-FAMLIT1 or visit www.famlit.org.
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