Reader to Reader Raises Global Literacy Awareness
By Daniel Diner '14, Staff Writer
This week Reader to Reader, an Amherst-based global literacy advocacy organization, is hosting a batch of events and a raffle, the profits of which will go to their international literacy initiative programs. These include To Mother With Love, a Nigerian initiative headed by Germaine Habell ’13 and Esperanza, a project based in the Dominican Republic, led by Melissa Aybar ’14.

Now organized largely with the help of Kat Libby ’11, Reader to Reader fights global illiteracy by sponsoring distribution of books to areas that have the highest literary need. The organization was started in 2001 by David Mazor, who sent one bag of books to a high school library of Durant, Miss., then the poorest county of the poorest state in the country.

Eventually Amherst Religious Life found out about Mazor’s projects and gave his organization their basement as a base, which it has been using ever since. Reader to Reader has distributed over 40 million dollars worth of books and computers since its inception and receives large donations from the College and personal and corporate donors.

“This week is all about trying to raise awareness for global illiteracy,” Libby said.

“Seven hundred and seventy four million adults are illiterate around the world, including a surprisingly high percentage in America.”

Raffle tickets are being sold every day this week at the Reader to Reader’s table at Keefe Camputer Center. Prizes range from tickets to Amherst Cinema, gift certificates to local restaurants and a guitar signed by Hugh Laurie, James Denton, Jesse Spencer and Bob Guiney.

Reader to Reader has events scheduled for the entire week of Feb. 28 to Mar. 4. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Springboard Program information sessions aim to inform students about Reader to Reader’s newest international community engagement projects headed by College students.

On Tuesday, local author and screenwriter John Katzenbach presented the process by which he makes screenplays out of his own popular books. The lecture was accompanied by a viewing of segments from his movies.

Wednesday features a panel discussion on “The Crisis of American Illiteracy,” seen through the eyes of nonprofits. Students will have a chance to learn about the situations faced by the panelist representatives of five nonprofit literacy advocacy organizations and the stories of how they impacted U.S. literacy through their work.

A screening of “Bury My Heart a Wounded Knee” highlights Thursday’s schedule. The film adaptation of Dee Brown’s novel tells the story of the various exploitations of Native Americans throughout America’s history. After the screening, set to take place in the Cole Assembly Room, screenwriter Dan Giat will speak about the book-film adaptation process and will answer all question regarding the work and the process of screenwriting.

Information on the Reader to Reader organization, history, collaborating organizations, raffle prizes or any of the initiative projects they are responsible for running, can be found at their website,

Issue 17, Submitted 2011-03-02 05:01:10