Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

An author responds…reading’s rapture!

Our beloved Carol Miller, author of Lola’s Luck: My Life Among the California Gypsies and The Church of Cheese, sent us this reflection on the written word’s impact from her childhood.

Here’s to the world of books and magazines that flew me to other worlds and opened my mind. I must have been in second grade when I found a Children’s Playmate Magazine (part of Jack and Jill, now) at the corner newsstand. I ran home to ask my mother for the 15 cents to buy it, and, feeling quite adult, returned in triumph with my purchase. The back page had a Native American paper doll that I treasured and never cut out.

We lived on the fifth floor of the hotel my father managed. The birth of my sisters, only a year apart, was keeping Mother too busy for our former shopping expeditions, or to take me to the park, or to read me stories or poems; “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” had been our favorite. Until I discovered the escape of reading to myself, I was perpetually bored and longing for adventure and stimulation. I remember watching the slow climb of the hands of the clock on the wall and the growing feeling of nausea as noon approached. Why noon? I don’t remember.

I do remember vomiting. No wonder Mother put me in first grade when I was five.

Books, still the antidote!

Thank you, Carol, for all the books you’ve read and written!  

A day of firsts!

lol-headerOur series editor, Brian Bouldrey, asks all authors aspiring to write a Gemma Open Door to remember the book that first made him or her fall in love with reading. Replicate that experience for a new reader, he coaches.

While my mother maintained I read a great deal as a little girl, the first book I remember is Charlotte’s Web, and the fact that a book—pieces of paper in my hands—could make me cry was stunning. I finished it on Sunday morning before church, propped up on elbows in my yellow bedroom. As a little kid, I was given a gift that has deepened and baffled and wounded and inspired my entire life…and put me in thrall to the sentence.

What I learned later was that I was initiated into a club that not everybody gets to join. Reading doesn’t make you a better person or a kinder person or a more interesting person, but it embroiders the heart and splashes the walls of our interior life with color and warmth.

Read a book to someone young. Out loud. And cry, for joy.

New England Library Association Rocks the Fall

lol-header Nearly 600 librarians from around the region met in Manchester last month for their annual meeting and all-over good time. The focus of the event was Generations, and, as the keynote highlighted, for the first time 4 generations of librarians are working side by side serving 5 generations of customers. The library has always been the beacon for readers of any generation, and challenges in keeping collections relevant and accessible to everyone are much on the minds of librarians.

On our minds are those folks across the generations who struggle to read at all. Libraries, and librarians, are lifelines for struggling readers, offering encouragement and advice, ESL classes, and night study groups. And they don’t have very much to work with. Conversations with librarians always astonish us, with their dedication to the cause of adult literacy and the scarcity of funding and material to help.

So, with a little pride, Gemma offered 2 new Open Door adult literacy books in New Hampshire—thanks to passionate writers who have worked with new readers for much of their lives. AMERICAN LION, written by our honest-to-God Wyoming cowboy and teacher, Tim Rush, uses real stories of the mountain lion to engage readers in riveting tales about the majestic animal some call the cougar, some call the puma, and everybody calls a magnificent Big Cat. Professor Tim Rush has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy education, humanities education, and linguistics at the University of Wyoming. Working closely with the tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation, he has helped develop UW programs for certifying teachers of American Indian children. Tim put his rugged experience, and his heart, into AMERICAN LION.

And as the YA book always dominates talk among librarians, Rebecca Elswick, author of the delicious Mama’s Shoes (“an intricate and beautiful landscape…a well-tuned and complex work.”—Publishers Weekly), has devised a clever murder mystery starring teenagers. NO STOPPING HER will keep countless classes guessing whodunit. Rebecca, the daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, is the director of the Writing Center at the Appalachian School of Law and a consultant for the Appalachian Writing Project at the University of Virginia’s college at Wise.

These are people who understand the power of a story to teach, and the riches that await readers when books speak to them. We’d like to make sure that all those library visitors find the gold.

Adult literacy…it’s a human right, in any generation.

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.

Fidelity Charitable Giving

You are welcome to gift through your account at Fidelity Charitable Giving ... and thanks!

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