Author Archives: Trish O'Hare

In the beginning

As 2016 comes to a close, it is wise to reflect on the good things that happened this year amid so much sadness and loss in the world around us. The overwhelming kindness and support that welcomed our new nonprofit, Gemma Open Door for Literacy, reaffirmed my belief in the fundamental goodness of people. We honor the pioneers such as Ruth Johnson Colvin and ProLiteracy, New Island Press, and all of the librarians, volunteers, teachers, and mentors devoted to full literacy for all.

So many thanks are due to those who helped us continue our small role in the mission to help adults and young adults read. Generous friends and benefactors gave time, money, advice, and much-valued encouragement. Authors rose to the challenge of creating sophisticated stories at low reading levels that interest grown-ups. I am humbled and grateful, and commit to bigger things in 2017!

Treat Shop (1960) is the first hardcover book I ever owned.  A collection selected and edited by children’s literature experts Eleanor M. Johnson and Leland B. Jacobs, the charmingly-illustrated book presents stories and poems from Aesop and Grimm to Margaret Wise Brown and Dr. Seuss. When I take it down from the shelf in my study, I run a finger over my name—middle initial and all—on the inside cover, written in my mother’s hand. I am deeply grateful to her, my first teacher who first gave me the gift of books. And to all the teachers over the years who built on that foundation, I can’t imagine a life without you.

Remember those who taught you to read. Remember those who struggle to read. Remember your first book. Remember.


The young will inherit

lol-headerBy the age of 18, almost 90% of young adults regularly get their news from Facebook and other social media, according to a study by the Media Insight Project. That can’t surprise anyone, but it makes me a little nervous, especially given the dominance of false news. How can we process the vast amount of information flashed at us to make steady decisions about local affairs, insurance choices, personal finances…elections? How do young people figure out what’s true and what’s not? What to worry about and what to let slide?

To make considered opinions, it is important to read widely and then reflect. A passing glance at a phone is not enough to keep someone informed. If a young person struggles to read—or is a reluctant reader—all the more reason to believe that he or she is unable to fully participate in the decisions that determine our lives. 

And that doesn’t begin to address the anxiety young folks feel in a complex world. No matter what your response to recent elections, there is no avoiding the fact that Americans are stressed. The cycle was brutal and persistent, and, as we recognize with deep concern, divisive.

It made me think about so many young people across the globe who feel hopeless, scared, un-noticed each and every day. How would we know about their experience except by reading about them?

Where do we go to understand the implications of a change of government, to find a new way of looking at the world, to seek comfort in the evidence that the world goes on?

Not with a tweet, not with a post, rather with a news article, a story, a book. That is why we take our mission of full literacy for all adults so seriously…and you should, too.

Get a book in that kid’s hand.

Ready to go!

lol-headerI am more than delighted to tell you that Gemma Open Door for Literacy, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping adults and young adults learn to read, has established a distribution relationship with Ingram Publisher Services. IPS will deliver our books and eBooks to bookshops, libraries and on-line stores across the country and well beyond.

Our relationship with Ingram goes back to 2008 when Gemma first opened her doors. With Ingram’s support, we have grown to this point, achieving a dream to create a nonprofit for literacy. Our mission is to expand awareness and deliver resources to folks who struggle to read. As the country’s largest book distributor, Ingram is able to reach retailers and libraries like nobody else. Their print-on-demand services will make sure that we always have books available. And, as Ingram consistently shines lights on literacy projects, Gemma Open Door is delighted to be a partner.

At the heart of the enterprise are the Gemma Open Door books, offering fresh stories for new readers. With wide spacing, short sentences and chapters, and vocabulary-building text, Gemma Open Doors are high-interest, low-reading level stories that appeal to grown-ups. Emerging readers are people who never learned to read well, people for whom English is not their first language, and, increasingly, reluctant readers. Almost nothing exists for adults and young adults who struggle to read beyond children’s books. With respect, Gemma Open Door gives them a place to start. Now, with the power of Ingram, these small books and eBooks can be found just about anywhere.

Read today! And remember how lucky you are..

Dr. Seuss’ birthday! A post from the archives…

hatMarch is the month, it always comes yearly,
When books are the TOPS, well, almost nearly.

It’s a birthday, you see, same’s the one made for me,
Of the author who taught us to love A, B, C.

Dr. Seuss he was called, ‘cause that was his name.
Dr. Seuss is recalled, because of his fame.

With Horton and Who and Lorax and Fox
And Cats in their Hats, and don’t forget Knox,

Yertle the Turtle and, my favorite, Grinch,
Reading was fun, and soon was a cinch!

Bartholomew Cubbins and twelve hats to spare,
Ziggy and Zizzy, the Zozzfozzel pair,

Sneeches, The Zax and a Gack and a Yink
All helped us to read, and maybe to think.

Dr. Seuss had a knack with the simplest truth.
Applies to all creatures, from old age to youth:

“You can find magic wherever you look.
Sit back & relax. All you need is a book.”

Celebrate the Great Seuss!

Tutor on tour…Peace Corps tour, that is.

“Alice Carter has traveled a long road to get to where she is today. Morocco, that is. Carter, 87, is the oldest current volunteer in the Peace Corps. She says she’s been interested in the world for a long time.”

That is how the NPR interview with our friend and inspiration Alice Carter begins. While other people may prefer to put their feet up in old age, Alice is committed to teaching and expanding her world as well ours. She has just completed her first full year of service. You can see from the look on her face, bathed in Sahara sunlight, on her 87th birthday this month, she’s at home. Alice is a woman who is always at home wherever she is, and with whoever she meets. Curiosity—a curiosity supported by written and spoken words in several languages—keeps her younger than many of us will ever be.

Read the article and hear Alice talk with NPR’s Rachel Martin hereAlice.

Go Alice! And come back soon.

About Gemma Open Doors

An innovative program of original works by some of our most beloved modern writers, originally designed in Ireland to promote adult literacy. These fresh stories showcase new writing from both best-selling authors and emerging voices.

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Gemma Open Door for Literacy, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. Gifts and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN #81-1384020