Friday, September 28, 2012

League Leaders: Sandra Day O'Connor

Junior League women are known for their strong leadership and service to their communities (especially here in JLW!), but did you know we have quite a few famous League members?

Like Sandra Day O'Connor from the Phoenix, AZ League -- the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, appointed in 1981.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

JLW Fact of the Day: September 26, 2012

Still tired after a long weekend of volunteering at the National Book Festival? Well here's a stunning fact that will get you pumped up and ready to go back out to volunteer some more!

Monday, September 24, 2012

JLW Distributed Over 6,200 Books to D.C. Students for Summer Reading

For children across the country, the summer was time to celebrate – the school year had officially come to an end. But behind the celebrations of millions of K-12 students, there were some pretty startling statistics surrounding kids without an opportunity to participate in summer learning. And what that lack of opportunity means is much more significant than you might expect:
  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).
These are just a few of the disconcerting statistics surrounding students who lack a structured summer reading program. And that’s why the Junior League of Washington and a handful of Community Partners came together to provide summer reading materials to children throughout D.C.

On June 11, the Junior League of Washington launched its 100,000 books distribution component of Resolution Read with a summer reading book distribution at Smothers and Maury Elementary Schools in Washington, D.C. JLW volunteers joined forces with a new community partner, the Literacy Lab, to distribute books to the 3rd and 4th grade classes at the school. There, the children tore into their bags and were excited to see all of the new books – especially the one where they recognized the titles, like Judy Moody! The teachers were also thrilled for the kids and their summer reading adventures. One teacher commented on the positive impact that she's seen in her student that participated in the Literacy Lab's tutoring program during the regular school year, noting that one student had improved by nearly two grade level!

Then, on Wednesday, June 13, the JLW co-hosted a third summer reading book distribution with the Literacy Lab – this time at Orr Elementary School in Southeast Washington, DC. As with the other two Literacy Lab distributions, students in three classes were given seven books and one dictionary to keep them busy readers over the summer. There, JLW President Wendy Cumberland, Vice Treasurer Marie Hahn and Community Affairs Council Director Carly Rockstroh were on hand to help distribute the books and had the chance to start reading the books with the students. Among the most popular books – Judy Moody and Sideways Stories from Wayside School – which were immediately cracked open. This Resolution Read event was extra special as it was the first time the Literacy Lab worked at Orr Elementary School.

Later, in mid-June, the JLW joined the girls at Excel Academy for their last Friday of the school year to hand out two books to each girl to take home with them and enjoy over the summer, in hopes their home library would continue to grow. These books were in addition to the two books the JLW gave them over spring break. There are more stories to share, and we’ll continue to post them. So far the JLW donated a whopping 6,266 books to D.C. students aged pre-K through 4th grade in partnership with groups such as the Literacy Lab, Excel Academy, Washington Middle School, Washington Jesuit Academy, and Horton’s Kids.

And that was just the beginning of our newly expanded Resolution Read program in which the League will put 100,000 books into the hands of students in the greater D.C. community in the next one to three years.

Getting involved is as simple as reading to a child in your life, signing your children up for summer reading programs such as those sponsored by the DC Public Library and Library of Congress, and of course, supporting JLW's fundraisers by making donations to Resolution Read and attending special Centennial events.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Books that Shaped America

In preparation of the 2012 National Book Festival, the Library of Congress asked several book enthusiasts which books they believe to have shaped America and published the resulting list on its website.

"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, "Alcoholics Anonymous" by Anonymous and "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons are the first three books on that list and show the diversity of books that shaped America.

With the National Book Festival happening this weekend, the Junior League of Washington asks you which books you believe have shaped your life and who you have become. If every member of the League gave an answer – even with some repeats – we would have a list of incredibly unique and fascinating books. Because the one thing that we all have in common, is our long-standing love affair with books!

Is there anything better to have in common? You could be as different as… say… a Republican and Democrat running for President, but if you discovered that you both absolutely love to read, amazing bonds can be formed from that one discovery. And even if you have extremely different opinions about the books, you’ll have a great time discussing them.

Finding another lover of books can be like finding a kindred spirit. And EVERYONE at the National Book Festival is a lover of books! On Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., thousands of people will be gathering to celebrate books, celebrate authors and celebrate reading! And who will be there to help it all run smoothly? Over 500 members of the Junior League of Washington in pink shirts, black or white hats, and huge smiles – book lovers, each and every one! We look forward to seeing fellow book lovers at the Festival this weekend.

JLW volunteers proudly displaying their pink shirts at NBF training

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Celebrating this weekend's 2012 National Book Festival

Celebrating the upcoming 2012 National Book Festival, the Library of Congress has posted a number of podcasts from authors and leaders involved in the cause of literacy. JLW President Wendy Cumberland was featured yesterday to discuss the JLW's Centennial year and the work we do to promote literacy in the Washington area. Click HERE to listen to the podcast.

This weekend is the 2012 National Book Festival on the National Mall, and the Junior League of Washington is excited to provide 580 volunteers for the event. We look forward to seeing you!

Please share your favorite National Book Festival memory or thought below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To Raise a Reader: Sing, Talk and Read

By: Micky Freeny from D.C. Public Library

Much has been written and discussed in the media about the quality of formal education in America, and specifically in the City of Washington, DC. We hold schools and teachers accountable for the reading success—and failure—of our children. However, until more children start school ready to learn to read, our schools will not achieve the results we want or expect. Until we show parents how to prepare their children to learn to read, reading scores will not rise to the levels we desire.

This sounds like an overwhelming task to impose on the parents of young children, a group that already has its share of awesome responsibilities and pressures; and granted, real success will not be achieved until the root causes of a parent’s limitations (poverty, isolation, health issues, etc.) are addressed. Yet, experts in child development agree that a loving parent is the first and best teacher of a child. Who better knows the child’s rhythms, interests and whims? Who’s a better role model to show children the importance of language and learning?

Read the rest of the article here.

About the above article: The Community Affairs Council is launching a new article series which will feature a monthly article on a literacy topic authored by one of our community partners and/or literacy-focused organizations in the DC area. The series is kicking off this month thanks to 2012 Targeted Grant recipient and new JLW placement-- the Literacy Lab!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What’s black and white and pink all over?

5 Great Reasons to Volunteer for the 2012 National Book Festival

  1. Hang out with a bevy of incredible authors. More than 100 authors and poets will be in attendance at the 12th Annual National Book Festival, signing books and conducting readings. This year’s authors and poets include: Lois Lowry, R.L. Stine, Jewel, Thomas Friedman, Jeffrey Eugenides, Chris Matthews, and many, many more.
  2. Support literacy throughout Washington, DC – and across the United States. Not only does the NBF support the Junior League of Washington’s work  promoting literacy throughout our nation’s capital, it also helps the Library of Congress – the de facto national library for this great country.
  3. Earn a Membership Credit. All Junior League Active members will earn membership credit for their morning, midday or afternoon shift volunteer hours. Volunteer either Saturday or Sunday, hang out with more than 600 other JLW volunteers, and provide critical support to the Library of Congress’s big event.
  4. Think pink. Did we mention that this year is the “year of the pink”? That’s right. All JLW volunteers will be rocking a hot pink “staff” shirt. Those awesome C-SPAN bags we all use for our groceries? Also pink.
  5. Do you really want to miss it? Last year, more than 200,000 visited the book festival. Just look at the fun we have!
Did we convince you yet? Click here to sign up today!

The Details:

When: Saturday, September 22, 2012 – 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 23, 2012 – 12:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
*rain or shine*

Where: National Mall, Washington, D.C., between 9th and 14th Streets

Training: Due to big changes at the festival, the Library of Congress has requested that all JLW volunteers receive training this year.  There are several options for training on September 18, 19, and 20.  Check for details. 

T-Shirts: Pick-up will be at the training sessions. 

Questions: Email Tessa Wilkin at

Post your favorite NBF story in the comments!