Born to Read - Raising a Generation of Readers

by San Antonio Public Library Foundation

It’s always a pleasure to provide a report on the Born to Read Program.  I’m pleased to share that over the past few months the Born to Read literacy kit has undergone three significant updates.  First, the durable canvas bag containing literacy materials for newborns and their families has been redesigned with vibrant colors and simple messaging reminding parents to read and speak to their infants daily.  Second, a new bilingual board book, Rebecca Emberley’s My Food Mi Comida has been placed in the bag. And third, the brochure has been revamped from a simple tri-fold format to an awesome four-panel door hanger style with larger panels to put important resources at parents’ fingertips.  Information on library locations and tips for reading with babies, toddlers, and twos, along with a form to fill out for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate and a panel dedicated to baby’s 4 x 6 photo with “SHHH!  So our little angel can sleep” are just a few of the fun and useful tools found on the door hanger. To see images of the new bag and brochure please open the pdfs on Born to Read’s Project Report page on

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both new and long-time donors for their support of the Born to Read program.  Your contributions help make possible program improvements like the ones described above.  I’d especially like to recognize our donors through who have added the Born to Read project to their corporate partner community giving pages or fundraisers and those who have set up automatic monthly gifts.  There are many projects worthy of funding and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation staff and volunteers are grateful for your investment and strive to make your dollars work as hard as they can toward eliminating illiteracy.



Sarah Rice

Project Leader


Seasons Greetings to “Born to Read’s” fabulous donors!  During this time of year we pause to reflect on all we are thankful for in our lives and look forward with hope to the next year.  Residents of San Antonio, Texas, are fortunate to have an extensive public library system that includes one Central Library and 24 branch libraries with two more locations scheduled to open in 2011. Unfortunately, the availability of amazing educational resources doesn’t guarantee their use.  This is an important reason the “Born to Read” program was founded.  Not only does “Born to Read” equip parents of newborns with information and materials to promote reading and literacy in the home early on, but it also creates awareness of the vast resources available at no cost just around the corner at the family’s local library.

The “Born to Read” staff and committee continually strive to deepen the reach of “Born to Read” into our San Antonio community and make it as effective as possible, additionally seeking ways to make it adaptable to any community that wants to use the successful program as a template for increasing literacy in its youth. We eagerly anticipate 2011, a year which will bring some wonderful new changes to the program which include a fantastic new look for the “Born to Read” bags and two new book titles.  For you, our donors whose support and collaboration help make this possible, we want to express our deep gratitude. 

On behalf of the “Born to Read” team, “Happy Holidays!”

Warm wishes,

Sarah Rice

Project Leader


P.S. – Don’t forget to click on the link provided to check out the article “Children, books, authors meet” to see how books came to life for the kids in attendance at the seventh annual Express-News Children’s Book & Author Celebration that benefited the “Born to Read” program.  A sweet picture of a happy, young soccer pirate and a grinning alligator enjoying the story “Pirate Treasure Hunt!” by Jan Peck is included.  


The San Antonio Public Library Foundation would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of the Born to Read initiative. Additionally, we want to let you know the 7th Annual Express-News Children’s Book & Author Celebration is right around the corner! Targeted for children ages 4 to 11, this event has become a favorite with San Antonio’s younger bibliophiles. Each participant will have the opportunity to hear the authors’ presentations, meet the authors while having their books autographed and participate in fun book-related craft activities.

Saturday | November 13, 2010 Program Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Book Sales: Until 1:00 p.m. Pearl Stable • 312 Pearl Parkway • San Antonio, Texas $25 adults • $10 children

This event benefits the San Antonio Public Library’s Born to Read initiative, and serves as a major source of funding for the program. This year’s authors include:

Chris Barton - Austin, Texas Austin writer Chris Barton is the author of two books that young boys think are pretty cool: “Shark vs. Train” and “The Day-Glo Brothers.” Says Chris: “It was love of being part of a writing community that led me to the University of Texas at Austin, where I immediately joined the staff of The Daily Texan (UT’s student newspaper). Our toddler son began asking me again and again to tell him over and over the story of how I had installed a smoke detector. The story had drill sounds and alarm sounds and a captivating plot, and he couldn't get enough. One morning, it struck me: If I could make him happy with that story, I could come up with other stories, and maybe other kids would like them, too. Not long after that, I remembered a newspaper article I'd read about the brothers who invented Day-Glo. Eight years later, it became my first book.”

Barbara Beery - Austin, Texas With a degree in elementary education, a passion for cooking, and three children of her own, Barbara Beery is the quintessential kids' cooking instructor and entrepreneur. Frustrated with the "pre-cooked" classes available to kids, Barbara founded Batter Up Kids Culinary Center, with the goal of offering interactive classes that focused on healthier food options. She is the author of seven cookbooks for kids, including “Fairies Cookbook,” “Mermaid Cookbook” and “Pink Princess Tea Parties.” Needless to say, little girly girls eat this stuff up!

Diane Gonzales Bertrand - San Antonio, Texas Diane Gonzales Bertrand’s vivid imagination led her to write her first novel in the fifth grade. Now writer-in-residence at St. Mary’s University, Diane is a prolific, award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her picture books include “The Empanadas that Abuela Made / Las empanadas que hacia la abuela” and “Sip, Slurp, Soup, Soup / Caldo, caldo, caldo.” Her latest book for little kids is “The Party for Papa Luis/La fiesta para Papa Luis.” “Trino’s Choice,” named Best Book of the Year in the young adult category by ForeWord Magazine, is beloved among teens. Diane’s latest for teens “The F Factor” deals with fear of not being accepted by peers.

Joy Fisher Hein Besides being an illustrator Hein is also a Texas Master Naturalist. When giving her presentations she also brings her Texas insect collection to hook the youngest audience members and boys. She will bring the insects to set up as show and tell along with all the steps to create illustrations. “I remind everyone that these are the same kind of insects that all my (our) Texas heroes also encountered. Scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas and tarantula hawks are just a few of the insects in my collection.” Hein says.

Joy Fisher Hein has illustrated many books rooted in Texas, including “Miss Ladybird’s Wildflowers,” “Sam Houston: Standing Firm” and “David Crockett: Creating a Legend.” A self-taught painter (she uses acrylics on illustration board), Joy decided as a child she wanted to illustrate books, inspired by the wonderful art in stories that absorbed her. Illustrations and her nearsightedness kept her nose in books, although reading was difficult with her undiagnosed dyslexia. Joy is also a Texas Master Naturalist, certified to create Schoolyard Habitats for The National Wildlife Federation. She and her husband Frank Hein live in the Hill Country.

Jan Peck Fort Worth writer Jan Peck is a dynamic force of nature onstage when she presents her work at schools and libraries all over the country, entertaining -- and involving -- kids and their parents in her highly original picture books. In short, Jan’s a ham! Her latest kid’s book is “Way Out West On My Little Pony,” in which a young girl in a pink cowboy hat encounters everything from a horned toad to a buffalo as she trots along on her trusted horse. Jan’s best known book, however, is “The Giant Carrot,” a folk tale that won numerous awards around the country. (And yes, she has been known to dress up in vegetable suits.) That’s not surprising, considering Jan is an organic gardener and a former cook for Auntie Em’s, a vegetarian, health-food restaurant -- in Cowtown! Other books in the Peck catalogue include “Avast! Pirate Treasure Hunt!” “Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea,” which, naturally, led to “Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree” and “Way Far Away on a Wild Safari.”


Thank you for your support, or consideration of support, of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation’s Born to Read program. Reading empowers and there’s no better time to begin instilling a love of reading than immediately after a child is born!

Approximately every two years the Library Foundation changes the titles in the Born to Read bags to ensure that families with more than one child receive a variety of books through the program. While looking for a new title we came across the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board book My First ABC and fell in love with it. Each letter of the alphabet is accompanied by a segment or detail of a painting. For example the letter “A” appears with Paul Cezanne's "Apples" and “B” is presented with a portion of "Boys In A Dory" by Winslow Homer. Each page is a colorful artistic treasure with wonderful images printed on sturdy boards for small hands to explore repeatedly. We soon learned the book was one title in a series the Metropolitan Museum of Art had created for teaching babies basics such as the alphabet, shapes and numbers.

In a discussion with the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), a staff member suggested the brilliant idea of creating our community’s own numbers, colors, and shapes board book series using art pieces from the San Antonio Museum of Art as the images for the book. We jumped at this idea, as it made perfect sense to introduce San Antonio newborns to basic concepts featuring works of art in the San Antonio Museum of Art’s collection. Not only will we be striving to instill a love of reading in our community’s children, but we’ll be fostering a love of art by providing images of masterpieces that families can see for themselves. Additionally, by creating our own book for the Born to Read literacy kit we have the freedom to make it bilingual.

Babies love to explore detail in pictures and we’ll provide a delightful variety of images, both in content and style. The series will start with a numbers board book. In this book, numbers will be introduced via artistic masterpieces. Each number, from one to ten, will have an image devoted to it. Readers will be invited to find out how many of a certain object they can discover in a single piece of art. While babies will enjoy practicing counting with their parents via the book, parents will love the cultural richness and educational value of the board book. An index to the art displayed will be located in the back and an informational insert on the wide array of free resources available at the San Antonio Public Library, along with the hours – including Tuesday Free nights – for the San Antonio Museum of Art will also be included.

Your contributions to the Born to Read program through help us ensure that all San Antonio babies have their very own engaging and educational books like the one described above at home. On behalf of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation and San Antonio newborns, thank you!


Chaired by San Antonio Public Library Foundation (SAPLF) Board Member, Kim Gillum, the San Antonio Express-News Children’s Book Celebration was another huge success both as a friend-raiser and a fundraiser. Thanks to our major sponsors: The Express-News, Holt Companies/Juliana Hawn & Peter M. Holt and The USAA Foundation the event netted over $59,000. The most ever raised in the six years the Foundation has held the Children’s Book Celebration.

Co-chairs Terry Scott Bertling and Steve Bennett, from the Express-News, secured top-notch children and teen literary writers/illustrators to participate adding to the event’s success. The Library Foundation is grateful to the participating writers who traveled to San Antonio and gave so generously of their time and talents (pro-bono). Many thanks to: Diane Stanley who talked about her picture book biographies of historical and literary figures; author/illustrator Roxie Munro whose books depict life on the Texas prairie; Elaine Scott who revealed behind-the-scenes stories about how things work; Tim McKenzie writer and musician who played his guitar while telling the story of Baxter Brown; former Catholic priest, Benjamin Alire Sáenz who read from his book The Dog Who Loved Tortillas; and Austin writer April Lurie who spoke about her love of writing for teenagers.

At the event, over 300 kids ages five to early teens and their chaperones had the opportunity to meet these authors and illustrators, hear their presentations, have books autographed and participate in book-related craft activities organized by Viki Ash, San Antonio Public Library Children’s Services Coordinator, and overseen by the children’s librarians. The poplar craft area would not have been possible without the librarians who volunteered to help.

The Foundation was once again fortunate to have Barbara B. Gentry, The USAA Foundation President, to act as our mistress of ceremonies. Not only does Barbara keep us on task, she was an underwriter including a couple of tables for members from the Wounded Warriors military group. USAA also provided us with some great employee volunteers and their family members.

SAPLF Board member Mike Molak with PlainsCapital Bank, underwrote the cost of hosting our two adopted schools who attended. Students and chaperones from James Madison Elementary and Ferdinand Herff Elementary had a great literary experience and they all left with a new book. Thanks to principals Barbara Black and Thomasine Chambers for getting their students there and for their support.

Funds raised are directed to the Library Foundation’s Born to Read initiative, which gives a set of books (one bilingual), a book bag, a library card application, and other literacy-supporting items to almost every baby born in Bexar County. This event is made possible through the generous major sponsorships provided by: Tom Stephenson/The San Antonio Express-News, Holt Companies/Juliana Hawn & Peter M. Holt, The USAA Foundation, Barbara B. Gentry, Berridge Manufacturing, Co., Sheila & Wayne Wright, Lori & Mark Wright, PlainsCapital Bank, Pat & Bob Flynn, Barnes & Noble, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Ricos Products Company, Inc., Joan Cheever and Dennis Quinn.


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Organization Information

San Antonio Public Library Foundation

Location: San Antonio, TX - USA
Website: http:/​/​
San Antonio Public Library Foundation
Project Leader:
TaMara Simon
Project Leader
San Antonio, Texas United States

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