The Need for Books -- For our Most Vulnerable Kids
May 2020
When Kids Have No Access to Books...

When schools and public libraries closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many children and teens across America lost access to books. Sadly, that includes kids in Northern Virginia, too. With few or no books at home, some of our most vulnerable students may not even have adequate reading material to complete their school assignments.

What does this mean? The answer is clear: book ownership -- or the lack thereof -- makes a huge long-term difference. In a survey of more than 18,000 young people ages eight to 17, children with abundant book ownership achieved higher levels of education. They also showed higher reading engagement and interest, invested more time reading, and read more widely and in higher volume than their peers who owned fewer books.

Communities -- and organizations like RIF of NOVA -- are trying to help, particularly during this trying time. Read more in this School Library Journal blog by award-winning educator and author Donalyn Miller. Click here . (image credit: Getty Images)

What is RIF of NOVA Doing to Help?

RIF of NOVA is fully funding all books for the schools and sites we serve for the 2020/2021 school year. Normally, the schools pay a fourth of the cost. But knowing how stretched schools are and will be next year with tax losses and other revenue declines, RIF of NOVA is paying the complete cost of a book for each of the almost 21,000 students we serve . Reactions from the schools has been overwhelmingly positive!

This is extraordinary, and we are so grateful! Thank you so much for providing this opportunity for our students at WHES to grow as readers. You all are so wonderful!
Jill Connors, Librarian and Liaison, Woodley Hills Elementary School

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are grateful and touched beyond words for your generosity. Your perfect and most welcome gift to completely fund books for all students at Hoffman-Boston for the 2020-2021 term will help us immensely in budgeting.
Beatrice Squire and Bernice Dawson, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, in support of Hoffman-Boston Elementary School

We are extremely grateful that RIF of NOVA is fully funding our distribution next school year!! Thank you for sharing this gift of reading with our students!
Sarah Kelly, Reading Specialist and Liaison, Kilby Elementary School

Thank you for funding the books!! That is sooo awesome! Our PTA is spending money on purchasing extra items for our students during this stay-at-home time, and I am sure this will be a big help.
Janice Perreault, Librarian and Liaison, Bailey’s ES for the Arts & Sciences
How was RIF of NOVA able to do this?
Because of YOU!!!! Your donations, your participation in and sponsorship of our biannual 5K, along with grants from foundations and corporations make RIF of NOVA work. We cannot help our kids with books to read without YOU .

Please give generously as the need for books for vulnerable children, particularly in the pandemic era, will continue to grow. Every $3 buys a book for one child! Giving details are linked here and listed below. Thank YOU!


What's it Like at Home?

Teachers, librarians, and liaisons in the RIF of NOVA community are working from home to try to help children stay up with their school assignments. But it's not easy...for anyone. The RIF RAP queried a few in our community to see how they are faring and what they miss the most.
Rocco DeBonis -- Librarian and Liaison, Groveton Elementary School
Q. What books are children reading now that they might not have read before the pandemic hit?
A. I haven’t been sharing any new books with students. We’ve all had enough novelty in our lives. I have been doing online read-alouds of all their favorites: lots of Kate Di Camillo, Dragons Love Tacos, Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief, Dav Pilkey, and Mo Willem. The "comfort food" of books.
Q. What is the worst part of this for you?
A. I hate that I won’t be able to say goodbye in person to the graduating sixth graders in my school. Every year, all of the teachers and all of the younger students line the hallways of Groveton. The sixth-grade students, in their finest clothes, walk the entire length of the school and get a high five from every single teacher, principal, custodian, and younger student. That is my favorite day of the year, and I feel so bad that this year’s sixth graders won’t have that experience.
Q.What inspires you to keep going?
A. It is inspiring to see the effect a good story has on children. I see this when I read to my students online and to my own children at home. A good story can make it all go away—all the uncertainty and fear—for a little while. It makes me feel good to share those moments of calm and comfort with my students. I understand now why people have been gathering to share stories for centuries. We gathered around fires, now we gather around computer screens, but the effect is the same, human connection and community.

Rocco is shown here with daughter Stella. They took turns reading Dragons Love Tacos during Rocco's online classroom!
Dora Sue Black -- Librarian and RIF of NOVA Board Member, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School
Q. What is your biggest daily challenge now that you are working from home? 
A. I am really sad that I cannot get books to the kids.

Q. What new idea have you instituted to keep in touch with your group of children?
A. I have been taking a lot of professional development webinars and classes. One of these is Screencast. I am able to record myself for a longer time period and include closed captions. I am loving it. 

Q. How are you sharing best practices with other teachers, librarians, friends?  
A. We meet together on MicroTeams. The discussions are great, and we are learning from each other.

Q. What is the worst part of this for you? 
A. Not being with the kids. I also do not like sitting in front of a computer for seven or more hours a day with little human interaction.

Q. What inspires you to keep going?
A. The kids. I just want to make sure that there are resources and activities that are available to them.

Dora Sue is shown here with a good book and her dog Buddy. She shares a new reading picture with her students every day on her Instagram feed.
Carrie Roop -- Liaison, Fifth Grade Teacher/Science Lead, Bel Air Elementary School
Q. What is your biggest daily challenge now that you are working from home?
A. The biggest challenge for me is reaching all of my students. Some of my students do not have internet or a working device (computer, iPad) at home. The students are not able to get books to read without a device. They are not able to get on-line to get to the choices from the grade level. 

Q. What new idea have you instituted to keep in touch with your group of children?
A. I am doing a virtual "Lunch Bunch" and classroom meeting once a week for my students who are able to join. We are talking about items that they want to share with their class. This is a way for me to check in on my students. 

Q. What books are children reading now that they might not have read before the pandemic hit?
A. I am using a program called myON which has different levels of books and many new books that the students might never have read before. I am choosing one recommended book a week for my students to read with this program. The students have a choice to read other books from their library. There are comic books, chapter books, and books from a lot of authors. 

Q. How are you sharing best practices with other teachers, librarians, friends?
A. We are emailing a lot as a team and school. We have one school meeting a week for everyone. Then, for my grade level, we are having two CLT meetings a week. We are using the TEAMS and Zoom programs. 

Q. What is the worst part of this for you?
A. I hate not being in my classroom. I miss seeing my students every day and seeing them learn. 

Q. What inspires you to keep going?
A. I love being a teacher and want to impact my students in any ways that I can right now. I want them to continue learning. 

Carrie's dog Tahra is shown here with one of Carrie's favorite books, This Tree Counts!
A Special -- and Free -- Corona Virus Book for Kids

Devon Scott and Samantha Harris are medical students at the University of Pittsburgh. They have written a new book explaining the coronavirus in the simplest terms. The children’s book, Why We Stay Home , shares a conversation between sisters Millie and Suzie about why people are asked to stay home.

The book is meant to spark conversation between parents and their little ones about COVID-19 and why we have been staying home. It is the first book in a series that will be explaining different body systems and medical specialities in a way kids will understand. According to Devon Scott, "We want to show little black and brown kids and all kids around the world that they can be anything they want to be." The books in the series will be 100% free to download. Check it out and download it at: .
Gaithersburg Book Festival

It's LIVE now through June 14. You won't believe all the cool stuff that's going on, with author interviews, book information, and timely discussions! And it's all available electronically! Zowie! The link to subscribe is here .
A Special Memorial Gift from the Heart

Anne Maynes was a beloved educator in our community, having served as librarian at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean for the better part of 30 years. She was so well regarded that, in her honor, Spring Hill created a garden with a statue of two children reading. Anne passed her love of reading on to her daughters and grandchildren. Her visits always included a trip to the bookstore to buy books for everyone, and she could never say no to a book her grandchildren wanted!

When Anne passed away suddenly in April, her husband Robert and her daughters wanted to memorialize her in a way that would continue her love of books. They asked for all donations to go to RIF of NOVA. We are ever grateful for this gift as a way to continue Anne's legacy and love of reading in our community.
As noted, books are more critical now than ever!
How can YOU help? PLEASE!!!!
* Send a check to our mailbox: P.O. Box 7012, Arlington, VA 22207-0012.

* Give at any time via PayPal on the RIF of NOVA website: .
* Register with . Type in Reading Is Fundamental of Northern Virginia, Inc. to select us as the charity you want to support. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to RIF of NOVA. With all our current online ordering, the 0.5% can add up!

* If your workplace holds a United Way campaign, designate RIF of NOVA as your chosen philanthropy. Our United Way # is 8959.

* Set up a fundraiser for a birthday or anniversary on Facebook and solicit donations for RIF of NOVA. Ask us how here !

Thank you for any donation -- no matter how big or small!
Please share the RAP! Forward our newsletter to your friends and anyone interested in providing books to children who need them! Subscribe here !