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Schools Hit by Hurricane Sandy Aided by Scholastic, Others

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Scholastic, the well-know children's publishing and education giant, announced this morning that it will donate a whopping 1 million books to schools and libraries in areas that were the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, the so-called "superstorm" that roared through the East Coast two weeks ago wreaking havoc on coastal regions.

The scale of the damage to schools is astounding: According to the company's press release, more than 20 schools in New York City are unable to reopen and dozens of schools in New Jersey are still closed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The company is working with the New York City-based nonprofit organization Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc., which provides assistance to children worldwide, to distribute the 1 million books to schools and libraries that were hardest hit by the storm. Educators who would like to apply for book grants can also submit applications online.

Those teachers who may have lost instructional material and lesson plans can also access free ready-to-use, grade-leveled lesson plans and activities, which Scholastic is making available to help those in the most severely damaged areas. Scholastic is emailing every teacher in such neighborhoods a link to the available resources so that they can immediately download and use the material, should they wish to do so.

The nonprofit First Book (whose work was recently covered by BookMarks) announced last week that it is also raising funds to restock schools and home libraries in communities affected by the storm. The American Federation of Teachers and the Albert Shanker Institute pledged matching funds (up to $35,000) for donations collected by First Book.

According to their press release, First Book is pairing with its local partners to provide hundreds of thousands of replacement books for those lost or damaged in low-income schools and libraries as a result of the storm. The fundraising efforts will enable the organization to provide 30,000 brand-new books to damaged school and home libraries in low-income areas. Interested schools and programs can register to receive books on the organization's website.

Kid-Lit Cares, an online auction organized by children's book author Kate Messner, is another effort. Messner has organized the auction so that the Red Cross will receive 100 percent of the monies raised.

Children's book authors and those who work in the publishing industry have donated various items to be auctioned off online, including—among other things—such items as Skype calls with various authors, manuscripts critiques, and an opportunity for a picture book manuscript to be presented at a publisher's acquisitions meeting. It's a narrow window for fundraising, which ends completely at 10pm EST tomorrow, Nov. 13, 2012. The deadlines for the auctions are staggered, however, with some ending this evening.

While it seems like the conversation about how to protect coastal cities and towns for the future has kicked into high gear—this recent New York Times article on protecting Manhattan and an Atlantic piece on building resilient cities are good examples—recovery efforts will be ongoing for some time in the damaged, or in some cases obliterated, neighborhoods. It's wonderful to see groups coming together to help kids and school libraries affected by the storm.

Please feel free to post a comment, or drop me an email, as you hear of other efforts to help damaged schools and libraries recover.

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