Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Book-Seattle Newsletter Spring 2014

First Book-Seattle Spring Newsletter
Renowned Seattleites celebrate their love of reading

First Book-Seattle will hold its third annual Seattle Story Time on Saturday, May 31 at Greenlake’s Bathhouse Theater.

Prominent local figures including Molly Moon, children's author Nancy White Carlstrom, a Kirkland firefighter, and sports stars will read their favorite childhood books in an all-ages story time celebrating the power of a child’s first book. The event will be hosted by the wonderful Ride the Ducks' captain Bjorn Toorun who was one of the stars of last year's event. The readers will be available to chat and sign autographs once they've read.

Last year’s event was a huge success and part of a series of fundraisers which raised over $20,000 for new books for kids who need them. Ross Fletcher, voice of the Sounders, hosted an eclectic group of Seattle celebrities, including a Sounders player, a Husky, a Seahawk, a chef and a break dancer. 

Tickets are $15 until 5/1, $20 after 5/1. Each ticket includes a new book. Tickets are available at

The Bathhouse Theater at Greenlake is located at 7312 West Green Lake Dr. N Seattle, WA 98103. More readers will be announced over the coming weeks.
To make a donation to First Book-Seattle visit We would love for you to join our community and become a sustaining donor. A donation of just $15 a month would give 12 kids a year a starter library. Within 2 years you’ll have helped a whole classroom of children.

Soccer, beer and books

First Book-Seattle teamed up with Redhook Brewery to celebrate the start of the new Major League Soccer season and the league's best supported team, the Seattle Sounders, with a fantastic fundraiser at the start of March.

Voice of the Sounders, Ross Fletcher, former Sounders pundit and England international, Alan Hinton and radio personality and author of 'Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece' Mike Gastineau joined forces to keep guests entertained. They told anecdotes about the team and answered question about the new roster. Many thanks to the three of them.

Thanks to Redhook brewery who provided the venue, food and a taste of the new official Sounders ECS beer.

The event raised $2500 through ticket sales and a raffle. Thanks to all those who attended. This is definitely something we'll be repeating. Go Sounders! Go First Book-Seattle!

First Book-Seattle

Newsletter 3: April 2014

On Saturday April 19th First Book-Seattle is handing out a record number of books.... 40,000!

The books are going to teachers and educators from across King County to take back to their classrooms and programs.

First Book-Seattle earned the books from its national body by rising to the challenge of getting 150 new educators signed up as recipient groups and fundraising $10,000 over the last three months. Funds were earned through events at Glassybaby, private donors, and a Sounders season launch party at Redhook Brewery.

Teachers and educators who are registered with First Book-Seattle are each coming to pick up 100 books on Saturday April 19. With some schools having more than five or six teachers signed up there will be many schools and programs getting over 600 new books for kids.

“This is a truly unique event. Never before has Firstbook-Seattle handed out this number of books… the truck is on its way, traveling across the country and until it gets here we can’t even imagine what 40,000 books look like!” said co-chair Joy Brooke. “What we do know is that the teachers coming to get them are hugely excited and the books will have a massive impact on children and classrooms across King County”

If you would be able to help us with for this amazing event please contact co-chair Jody Dorrow at We need volunteers to prepare the books on Thursday April 17 and help handing out books on Saturday April 19.

A Birthday to Remember!

Community School First grader Maguire Brooke loves to read. He loves books and all he wanted for his 7th birthday was to give books to kids who didn’t have any.

“Are you sure you don’t want presents?” asked his mom, before she sent out the invitation that would encourage his guests not to bring gifts, but instead to donate to First Book-Seattle.

“Yes, I am sure! I can’t believe kids don’t have books. If you don’t have books, how can you read, and if you can’t read, how can you learn?” replied Maguire.

Each guest that attended Maguire’s birthday party donated using an online Virtual Book Drive. Thanks to Maguire’s family and friends, he raised over $500, which gave 200 books. First Book-Seattle worked to match Maguire with a program where the books would make a difference and found Viewlands Elementary, a Title 1 school, in north Seattle where more than 65% of students receive a free or reduced-price lunch. The $500 grant was given to two second grade classrooms to provide a starter library of 6 books to each child. Titles included some of Maguire’s favorites including the Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne, and The Diary of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

Maguire got to share his love for reading and books by distributing his books to students at Viewlands Elementary. Maguire shared why he loved to read, before the students went ‘shopping for their books’.

“It was awesome!” Maguire exclaimed. “I’m the proudest person on earth!” Teacher Meredith Lewis (pictured left with Maguire) added “The kids were so into their books… some of them carried a book around all the rest of the day and they’re still bringing books out to recess”

Co-Chairperson of First Book-Seattle Jody Dorrow commented “We’re so thrilled that Maguire’s birthday wish of giving the gift of reading came true. And we hope that with the books these 7 years old will be able fulfill their dreams too”

KPMG’s Relationship with First Book-Seattle

By Patrick M. Riley, Seattle KPMG Family for Literacy Partner Champion

My wife and I have been fortunate that I work for a company that encourages us to be active in the community in an area that matches our passion.  I work for KPMG which is one of the global Big-Four accounting firms. 

As a firm, we believe that education is key to the long term success of our communities and our country, and education is not possible without literacy.  That said, the toughest roadblock to children’s literacy in low-income communities is a lack of access to books.  To help break through this barrier, KPMG formed KPMG’s Family for Literacy (KFFL). KPMG launched its initiative nationally in collaboration with First Book to promote literacy by providing new books to children from low-income families. In too many cases, these are the first books these children have ever owned, but since this collaborative effort was launched more than five years ago, KPMG has donated over two million books in more than 90 communities across the country.

While KPMG works with the national First Book organization, we in Seattle have joined with the local First Book chapter on a number of events over the last five years.  Most recently, we donated over 1,000 books to kindergarteners through second graders at Beacon Hill Elementary School.  A number of our employees, several local authors and several individuals from the local First Book chapter joined my wife and me to deliver five new books to each child.  As part of this activity, KPMG employees and their family members also read, “Where the Wild Things Are” and acted out the story in front of the class.  The children then broke into small groups of three or four children and the authors and our employees read to them.  It was a rewarding day for all involved.  Seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they realize that the books they are receiving are their very own is indescribable.

We value our relationship with First Book for the ability to leverage our time and dollars to maximize the benefit to the children, and for the opportunities it gives KPMG’s Family for Literacy to volunteer with our own family members as well as our colleagues.  While it is fulfilling to provide financial assistance to worthwhile causes, participating in the activity you are supporting is much more satisfying.

To learn more about KPMG’s Family for Literacy, visit or “like” us on KFFL’s Facebook page,

Meet Our First Book- Seattle Champion:  

Photographer Julia Bobrov 

By Brandi Erbstoeszer 
Photographer Julia Bobrov, our First Book-Seattle Champion for this quarter, beautifully documented our past two fundraising events: Glassybaby Night Of Giving, and Redhook Brewery & First Book-Seattle Soccer Season Kick-off. She has a special knack for capturing the moments that express the heart of events.  
Born in Ukraine, Julia has also lived in Israel, Texas, and now in Kirkland where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She has a degree in multimedia design and runs her own photography business: J&N Photography 
Julia’s passion for photography is deeply informed by her relationships with people, especially children. She still works at the Montessori school that her daughters attended, taking photos of the children and documenting their development. “The goal is to get them in their natural environment, she says, and she does this in a discreet manner behind the telephoto lens. Although her photos are from afar, the effect is close up, and the relationships Julia has formed are close as well; the school invites her to special parties and events, where she happily volunteers her time.  “I like to capture the magic of kids growing year after year, she says. 
Julia also loves documenting birth; the moments leading up to, during, and following the first moments of new life. She’s photographed pregnancy, natural births, cesarean births, newborns, and milestone birthdays.   
First Book- Seattle is fortunate to be engaged in a relationship with Julia. “I love volunteering with great people for great causes, says Julia. “I look at volunteering as doing something that is creating memories, and being a part of a special event that is meaningful.”  She says she is sustained and enriched by relationships that persevere over time 
We hope Julia will remain part of the First Book community for a long time to come.  
Copyright © *|2014|* *|First Book-Seattle|*, All rights reserved.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Request for Proposals Fall 2013

Our 2013 grant cycle is now open! Applications due September 16, 2013 at 5pm. Check out how you could get books to kids who need them.

The Grant Program

First Book—Seattle is a local chapter of First Book, which is a national organization that promotes literacy and book ownership among children from birth to age 18. Our goal is to get books into the hands and homes of children in King County. Our fall grant cycle is open to any registered First Book Recipient Group, including classrooms and grade level teams at Title 1 schools, or day care centers, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies that serve at least 70% of children from low income families.

The grants will allow teachers, librarians, administrators, or program leaders to purchase brand new books from the First Book Marketplace at no cost and no delivery charge. Grants will ideally provide six books to each child and will be integrated into the educational mission of the program or organization.

We give priority to applications that:
  • Focus on a targeted group, such as an individual classroom, a grade level team, an age group, or a subgroup (i.e. students who are English Language Learners; students receiving Special Education services; families receiving parenting support; etc.) 
  • Intend to provide a six-book diet per child (at roughly $2.50 per book) Recent grants have ranged from approximately $100 to $3500. 
  • Provide specific details about the mission and educational program of their organization. 
  • Offer creative educational integration of new books. Examples of educational integration from recent successful grant applications include: 
    • Bridging classroom work with reading at home 
    • Creating family engagement activities/programs 
    • Building after-school programs that encourage literacy 
    • Developing weekly student book clubs 
    • Connecting literacy activities with Special Education programs 
    • Fostering reading skills in children who are English Language Learners. 
  • Clearly suggest how books will be used as part of the curriculum/program AND make it clear that books are for children to take home and keep. 
  • Indicate that book grants will be spent within six months and that books will be sent home with children during that time frame. 

The Grant Application Process

  1. Register as a Recipient Group (If you have already done this, you will need your Recipient Group number). 
  2. Complete the application (.doc download). 
  3. Email the application to Jennifer Preisman at jpreis[at] no later than 5 pm on Monday, September 16, 2013. 
Applicants will receive notifications about their proposals in mid-October.

If you receive a grant, you may order your books in the online First Book Marketplace, and they will be sent to you within a couple of weeks.

Questions? Please contact Jennifer Preisman, Recipient Group Chair, at jpreis[at]

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

'What was your first book?' review by Jannifer Zhan

On Saturday, May 18th, First Book-Seattle held its second annual big fundraiser at Hugo House, featuring local celebrities reading the first book they loved. Before the event started, the First Book-Seattle crew was busy getting the venue ready, including drawing with chalk on the sidewalk outside Hugo House to direct people to the front door. Many of our readers arrived earlier and as the time approached 10am, more and more audience members trickled in.  Parents settled down in the chairs while the kids sat criss-cross apple sauce on a rug closer to the stage. Some went to grab some snacks and refreshments, which were donated to us by Trader Joe’s and Eltana Bagels. Others went to the side alcove to check out our silent auction, which was filled with amazing prizes including a team-signed Sounders Jersey, which drew much interest. All the prizes were provided by generous donors.

Around 10, our host, “Voice of the Sounders” Ross Fletcher, stepped up to the stage with board members Jody Dorow and Megan Lehman to kick off the event. We had a great set of readers lined up for the event and each one was a natural at engaging the children in his or her respective books.

Our first reader Julie Trout, the 2012 Regional Teacher of the Year, after putting on her “teacher” glasses, read Mr. Pine’s Purple House, which she described as a book about “not being afraid to be a little different,” a lesson which she hoped the kids would remember always.
Husky Wide Receiver DiAndre Campbell looked very cool in his Husky jacket as he sat down to read The Giving Tree by Shel Shel Silverstein.
TV host from New Day Seattle Margaret Larson eschewed the reader’s chair and chose to sit on the edge of the stage nearer to the kids so that they could see the colorful pictures from her choice of book, Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, whom she described as “a doctor of laughter.”
“Captain” Bjorn Toorun (aka Curt Nakon), who can usually be seen steering a Ride the Ducks boat in downtown Seattle, read One Duck Stuck and pronounced all the animal sound effects with great enthusiasm. Even more amusingly, he came prepared with a duck hat which would flap its wings when he tugged on the loop, which he would do each time the titular stuck duck called for help.
Anna Banana Freeze, a performer from the b-boy/b-girl group Massive Monkees, read Elephants Cannot Dance with all the different voices. She then lead the kids through a dancing exercise before showing off a few of her own moves. Before she started, she jokingly warned us that her dance style resembled the eccentric technique of the elephant in the book. She then told the kids to help her summon the music by rubbing their hands together. As the children started, music really did begin to play, which obviously can be attributed to the music gods and not at all to the Hugo House employee standing behind the audience adjusting an iPhone! It was a great half time performance.
Before Rachel Kessler, a poet performer from Typing Explosion, read aloud her Mouse Tails, she explained that this particular book was really important to her because it was the book that caused her to love reading chapter books.  Chef Tamara Murphy from Terra Plata read us Where the Wild things are by Maurice Sendak. This was one of the most popular choices with the children enthusiastic from the moment she mentioned the title.

Linda Neunzig, owner of Ninety Farms, was joined onstage by her son, Sam, and they read When the Rooster Crowed together. She remarked that the book was very relevant to her family as they are not fond of early-rising.
Before Seattle Sounder player Andy Rose began his book, Froggy Plays Soccer, he commented that he hopes to one day attain Froggy’s soccer skills. Meanwhile Seattle Seahawks kicker Carson Wiggs told us how pleased he was to be getting involved in the community after only having signed for the team in March. He read that old favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
Our last reader, retired Rat City Rollergirl Shovey Chase (aka Jennifer Warnick) skated to the front of the room and asked all the kids to stand behind her onstage and make their best bear faces before joining her to read More Bears.

Finally, Ross Fletcher finished the event with some closing statements and invited everyone to visit the silent auction, as well as the book sale, where all the books that were read aloud were available for purchase.

In total, First Book-Seattle raised over $2000 from ticket sales, book sales, and auction sales, which means we can provide 800+ books to children in King County. What a successful fundraiser!

Friday, May 31, 2013


On May 28th, First Book-Seattle went to Concord International School to follow up on the students’ Pay-It-Forward project and celebrate their reading accomplishments.

This project started during the 2011-2012 school year, when the students at Graham Hill Elementary made a deal with us that they would read as many books as they could during the year and First Book-Seattle would donate a set of books to children at another elementary school of their choosing. They picked Concord International School in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.  

The students at Concord received those books in October and made a similar pledge. They have read furiously during the school year, and so continue the cycle of “paying forward” by donating Magic Tree House books to students at Dearborn Park Elementary next fall. 

We arrived at the classroom to set up the books, book plates, juice, and cookies (what’s a celebration without snacks?). During the set up, one little boy rushed into the classroom to grab something, saw the stacks of books and shouted, “Whoa!” before dashing out. 

After a couple of minutes, the rest of the second graders trickled in. The instructional coach, Dan Coles, reminded the students about the reading pledge they made at the beginning of the school year and congratulated them for all their hard work during the year. Then, he introduced board member Jennifer Preisman.

Jennifer first remarked that she had heard about all the great reading they had done and asked the kids what books they had read. One student shouted, “Harry Potter!” Several members of the class nodded in agreement and another kid exclaimed that he had a Harry Potter book in his desk before pulling out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Other books included Fighting FreedomDiary of a Wimpy Kid, the Magic Treehouse series, and a National Geographic book on space. 

After congratulating the students, Jennifer announced that she had a special gift and asked, “Has anyone heard of the Seattle Seahawks?” Hands shot up in the air and several kids gasped. Jennifer explained that she had met the kicker, Carson Wiggs, who was very impressed with the Concord kids’ achievements. She presented the class with a “What Was Your First Book” poster signed by Mr. Wiggs for them to hang in their classroom. The kids were delighted.

Afterwards, Jennifer turned their attention to the Magic Treehouse books stacked on a side desk and to the four bookplates on each student’s desk. She explained that they were going to sign their names on each book plate, which would go into donated book so the kids at Dearborn Park would know that those books were a gift from students like them. As the kids busied themselves with signing the bookplates, we handed out juice and cookies, as well as some First Book swag including pencils and temporary tattoos (which were well-received, though the kids were warned they had to wait until after school to apply them!)

As the celebration continued, Mr. Coles took showed us a board documenting the second graders’ reading challenge. The chart was sprinkled with large paper flowers labeled “start,” “25” etc. all the way to “200,” as well as a bunch of paper bees each marked with a student’s name. The bees were scattered on flowers on the board. Dan explained that the second graders were challenged to read for 20 minutes a night for as many nights as they could and each flower marked a milestone for the number of nights they read.

He pointed out the three highest achievers, Abby, Jason, and Max, who all reached 125 nights. We were so impressed that we asked if we could meet them, so Mr. Coles introduced us. When asked about what they enjoyed most from their many nights of reading, they unanimously said the fun of reading itself. (Mr. Coles also informed us that the entire class’s reading skills had improved greatly and that one kid had gone up 8 reading levels since the beginning of the school year.) Then they declared that they highly recommended the Magic Treehouse series and hoped that the students at Dearborn Park would enjoy them as well. 

Overall, this was such a fantastic event. It was a great way to encourage reading in students as well as allow them to give back to their community. We hope that the cycle will continue to be successful next year! 

Note: This was the last event that our chair, Megan Lehman, will be attending. She has served as chair of First Book-Seattle for two years, but she will be stepping down from her position as of June 1st. Thank you for all your great work!