Literacy & Read to Feed the Mind News

Check here frequently to find out what is happening with FTM.

Passing the Power

posted Sep 26, 2012, 7:18 AM by Linnea Logas

This last week I started my program at Adler Graduate School for my MA in psychotherapy. As I sat with the other students, we spoke to one another about professionalism and vocation. Professionalism broken down in Latin means "pro" or for and "fess" to speak. Thus professionalism is about speaking for someone or some group. Likewise, vocation comes from the Latin word "vocatio", a call or a summon. Asking someone what their profession is and what their vocation is, is really asking who that individual is called to speak on behalf of. My first response to this question was that I am called to speak on behalf of those who do not have voices, or to listen to those who are not listened to. Another woman in my class said that she is called to speak to women and men in her own, privileged social group. She questioned the virtue of this calling, and as a group we discussed the benefit she could have on our world. In particular we decided, when those who are in a position of power are at peace with themselves, they are more likely to reach out to the people around them. This might mean they are more likely to leave a tip with a waiter who is struggling to pay his bills, or are more understanding when their order is taken down wrong; it might mean that they joke with the disabled woman working as a cashier at Target, or sympathize with the elderly gentleman restocking shelves at their grocery store. It occurs to me now that despite the fact that I work at a restaurant, rely on the tips I get, and don't have as much say in society as my husband, I am still in a position to be called to speak on behalf of others. And this in itself is a position of power that many people won't experience. The cooks at my restaurant will likely never stop working at a restaurant. This in itself is nothing bad, since we still need those restaurant workers, but they work hard hours for little pay that won't ensure their retirement or their children's futures. They will never own their own house or go get their bachelors degrees, much less their masters degrees. The work we do at Read to Feed the Mind is not simply about helping children in need. What we do is speak on behalf of a group of people who currently don't have the privilege or the power to speak on behalf of themselves. Not only that, but we are in fact arming these children with what they need in order to speak for themselves as they grow older. We are giving them the tools they need to get that bachelors degree, to work towards something more stable than a restaurant job or a cashier job. We are giving them the tools they need to find their own professions and their own vocations. In essence, we are passing on our power to the future generations. And that's a virtue worth smiling about. 

The Pictures of Possibility

posted Sep 4, 2012, 9:44 AM by Linnea Logas   [ updated Sep 5, 2012, 10:01 PM by Beverly Koopman ]

This summer has been a busy one for Read to Feed the Mind. Remember all those thousands of books we handed out a few weeks ago? Well we have pictures to share from the North Minneapolis Block party and from the Minnesoat Reading CorpsAugust training at River Centre in St Paul. The children and volunteers were so excited to be receiving books!  

Many of the Minnesota Reading Corps tutors are also very excited about the books they received, and are looking forward to setting up chapters in their own local food shelves. Over facebook we received a message from a tutor that encompasses the excitement and possibility these tutors see: 

"Hi! I received a the bag of books via Minnesota Reading Corps. I approached the REACH center in [my town]. A week later I received a call from a person wanting to interview me on our local cable access channel. They LOVED the idea of adding a Book Shelf to the Food Shelf.Thank You for helping me to give back to my Community... in Northwest Minnesota!"

We've Been Named Unsung Heros!

posted Aug 19, 2012, 11:28 AM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated Aug 19, 2012, 11:37 AM ]

Read to Feed the Mind was selected as one of the 100 most innovative ideas in the nation by the 2012 ING Unsung Heroes Awards Program! As one of the top 100 winners in 2012, We will receive a $2,000 grant from ING Unsung Heroes to bring the bilingual program to life! 

Even more exciting? This project may even have a chance to add $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000 if selected as one of the top 3 winners. 

You can see our winning entry at

If you follow us because you have ideas to make society a better place for children, submit your project! Since 1996, ING U.S. has awarded nearly $4 million for projects that make a difference!

Support those who support good work and like the ING Unsung Heroes Facebook page ( ) and to follow @INGUnsungHeroes on Twitter

Bilingual Book Project

posted Aug 14, 2012, 12:11 PM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated Aug 14, 2012, 12:12 PM ]

Read to Feed the Mind is happy to announce it's latest summer project! The last year we have been working on finding ways to increase student access to bilingual books. So many of the children we serve come from homes where English is a second language. In order to encourage parent's reading to their children, we need books that parents are comfortable reading. Research shows that ELL children who frequently work on literacy skills within their primary language, are more likely to have literary improvements in English as well (Harper, Platt, Pelletier, 2011). Students in Mrs. Koopman's classroom wrote and illustrated stories, and gave the copyright to RFM. We are now working on finding translators in several of the most common languages found in Minnesota, to translate these books! This has been a long but exciting project, and we are looking forward to getting these books printed in the near future! Please contact us if you are fluent in another language and would like to help translate books for this worthwhile project. Click here to contact us:

4,400 Books this Week and Counting...

posted Aug 14, 2012, 11:58 AM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated Aug 14, 2012, 12:04 PM ]

The last week has been a big one for Read to Feed the Mind. Five-hundred books went out this summer through the Buffalo Food Shelf's Kid's Choice program. 900 books are expected to be given away at a block-party in NE Minneapolis this Wednesday.  These numbers is dwarfed by our other event however. 3,000 books were given to the Minnesota Reading Corps this morning for Preschool Literacy tutors throughout Minnesota to use with their students. In return the tutors will be holding book drives in their communities, exploring the option of setting up chapters in their community food shelf, and are expected to give the donated books to their students at the end of the year, to continue the mission of building libraries in children's bedrooms. The process of getting these books ready was long, but the possibilities and children we're reaching are exceptionally exciting. We will keep you updated as this partnership continues to unfold! 

Summer is off to a bookish start in Buffalo, Mn!

posted Jun 12, 2012, 8:17 PM by Beverly Koopman

Kids and parents alike had a great time at tonight's book distribution in Buffalo, Mn.  Smiles were bountiful as children proudly walked out with books for their summer reading, bags of popcorn and pop. Parents were surprised to learn about the "summer slide" and how reading books throughout the summer can eliminate that learning loss.  They are now armed with knowledge about how to support their children, and their children are equipped with the books that they need.  Success is within reach!

Parents were also appreciative of the drawings for gift cards for groceries, gas and books that we held.  

Families then headed to the public library to check out books and get signed up for their library cards. 100% of families also registered their children for summer library programs.

Thanks to the Buffalo Rotary Club for providing funds for the gift certificate drawings.  Thanks, too, to those who showed up to volunteer: National Honor Society students, BHM Schools' teachers and Title 1 teachers, PES media specialist and parents.  Thanks especially to First Book, without whom, this distribution would not have been possible.

Parade June 16 & Your Child is Invited

posted Jun 10, 2012, 6:22 PM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 6:25 PM ]

We still have lots of room for more children to walk with our unit in the Buffalo Day's Parade next Saturda! Are you planning on coming & haven't already signed up? Please head over to our Facebook page and message with your RSVP.
This is a GREAT service learning opportunity for small groups 

Buffalo Days Parade (Mn), Saturday, June 16.
Meet us at St John's church parking lot by 5:00 pm (on Google maps). The parade starts at 6:00. We are unit 20, near the front and will likely be done by 6:30 or shortly after.

Children should dress up like a book character and carry a book or sign showing the cover. 

Children will help distribute book marks to parade watchers.

Parents will need to fill out a release/emergency contact form before your child can march. 

If your child is six or under, please have a parent (dressed up or walking the sidelines) walk with your child. If they need support, you'll be there.

Summer Literacy Activity Calendar

posted Jun 4, 2012, 11:32 AM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated Jun 4, 2012, 1:26 PM ]

Feel free to download, print and use the attached calendar.*  Using this calendar is a fun way to encourage elementary aged children and their parents to engage in literacy activities over the summer. 

No one wants to unnecessarily download documents, so here is a list of some of the types of activities you will find on this calendar:

On the calendar are several suggestions to "write in your journal," so it might be helpful to pair the calendar with an inexpensive notebook, also.

Not only are there an abundance of kid-friendly activities, but there is also a column of notes with ideas for parent-initiated activities. These guide parents with ideas to incorporate literacy into routine errands and when out-and-about town.  Some of the activities have children look into the book they are reading or do some act-it-outs with friends from their books.  Also included are writing ideas, word play ideas and take-a-hike then tell-a-story ideas.

The front page of the calendar has room for children to write down the titles of 12 books they read during the summer.  Why 12?  Richard Allington has done research showing that students from poverty who received 12 books before summer showed similar achievement as students who attended summer school.  USA Today reported out on Allington's findings a few years ago.  Twelve is magic for other reasons, too.  Students who read approximately one chapter book a week fall into the high performing groups at school.  Twelve books equals approximately one book per week through summer.  As reported in the Summer Library Journal, (Nov 1, 2010) the Beginning School Study "found that by the end of fifth grade, students who didn’t read during the summer lagged two years behind their book-reading peers and that summer learning loss accounted for most of the achievement gap between students who lived in poverty and those whose families were better off."  Summer reading is worth encouraging for ALL children!

Finding good books to read is often a challenge for children in the summer who no longer have other students to get reading ideas from.  Below you will also find a chart that provides book suggestions based on titles.   Again, feel free to use this with your children, your students or other groups to help encourage reading over the summer months.

*Thank you to the work that the folks at Reading is Fundamental do to promote literacy with our youth.  Many of the activities on the calendar come from a brochure created by RIF.  You can download a copy of their colorful brochure here:

Bookish Advice

posted May 23, 2012, 9:21 AM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated May 23, 2012, 9:24 AM ]

By Francis E. Kazemek
For the graduating fifth graders

Sometimes be like Max
And visit the Wild Things

If you're as brave as Hermoine
They'll help you laugh and sing

Keep reading like Matilda
Bookish friends will always love ya'

It's okay to be different
As the Wimpy Kid knows

Just being yourself
Will help the world glow.


posted May 15, 2012, 10:19 PM by Beverly Koopman   [ updated May 15, 2012, 10:20 PM ]

Last night, as I was organizing at our storage facility, I heard a ruckus outside.  There was a dad and three kids in the water.  They'd "rescued" nine ducklings.  After some discussion, I invited the kids to come into the house to pick out a book, "for caring so much about our world."  

After a few minutes, Dad opened the cover of one of the books and saw the Read to Feed the Mind label.  He looked up, watching me for some time before asking, "Are you the lady who gives away books at the food shelf?"  I explained what Read to Feed the Mind is, and how volunteers take care of stocking the book case there.  

"That's where my children get their books," pause, "Thank you," and then, "I have five children."  His thanks was heartfelt and his appreciation palpable. 

When departing, the nine year old gave me a hug and asked, "Can we have another play date?" 

For the price of a book, I became someone's playdate!!!

I truly believe that we are making an impact on literacy.  Stories like this give us a glimpse into that impact. 

The power of books lies in the vistas they open. Stories helps children see new possibilities for themselves, while equipping them with the tools to change what might have been their destiny.

Serving others makes a difference. Turn your difference into an investment in the future for us all by helping children today.

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