By Tina Elliott
Recently I was privileged to attend the Celebrate Literacy Award dinner put on by the Greater San Diego Reading Association. I tend to take books and reading for granted, having been instilled with a love of reading by my mother so many years ago and, thanks to her, never, ever being without a good book to read as a child. Now, as an adult, I am surrounded by more books than I could possibly ever get through. (I work in a book store for goodness sake.) What delight there is to be found between the pages of a book - joy, wonderment, giggles, or suspense; characters showing strength of spirit in attempting to overcome challenges and making hard decisions. Reading opens so many doors for us, often without us even realizing it. How easy it is for us to forget that there are many, young and old alike, who do not have the means to own a book of their own, or, even more sadly, who are not able to read.
The Greater San Diego Reading Association (GSDRA) is a professional organization affiliated with the California Reading Association (CRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA). GSDRA’s goals are to promote literacy, provide activities on literacy issues, and advance the pursuit of life-long reading. Every year, the GSDRA holds a celebration dinner to acknowledge businesses and individuals within our community who go “above and beyond” in the area of literacy. This year, Chinaberry was very proud to receive the Jerry Crews Award, created to recognize those in the business community who exemplify kindness and support for GSDRA and reading education. What an honor for Chinaberry to be acknowledged by such a committed group of individuals.
Equally as exciting to us was being linked to the devoted individuals who were also honored. Our own longtime Chinaberry customer and storyteller extraordinaire Marilyn McPhie received the Special Award of Recognition for her work with the Books for Babies program (www.marilynmcphie.com), and Katherine Salmon received the Judith Parson Award for Outstanding Student Teacher.
The Celebrate Literacy Award recognizes organizations, institutions, and individuals who have made significant literacy contributions at the local, state, or provincial level. This year’s Celebrate Literacy Honorees included St. Luke’s Refugee Network (http://sudaneserefugees.org/); United Through Reading Transitions (www.UnitedThroughReading.org); Edith Hope Fine and Judith Josephson, co-authors of Armando and the Blue Tarp School, nominated for the 2009-2010 California Young Reader Medal; teacher David Lynch, the true-life inspiration for Armando and the Blue Tarp School; and Irwin Herman, “The Bookman” (www.TheBookman.org). In addition to these fabulous individuals and organizations, many teachers and educators from school districts throughout the county were recipients of the 2009 Award of Excellence.
How inspiring to be surrounded by these dedicated individuals who have devoted their lives to others, giving their time and energy to promoting literacy and working toward the goal of giving every child and adult the ability to own and, more importantly, read a good book.
Tina Elliott and Janet Kelly at the GSDRA Awards