The Freedom Through Literacy Award was established by Judith’s Reading Room in 2015 to identify and honor individual champions of literacy from all disciplines around the world — teachers, librarians, authors, researchers, educators —- anyone who has done exemplary work to instill in others a love of reading.
Lisa Tedeschi Vergara, the founder of Storytime Crafts, a charitable nonprofit organization in Needham, is the recipient of a 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option Award, awarded for her joyous and creative approach to getting children to see a book in a new way.
Vergara’s “Literacy Through Art of the Book” project illustrates the power of literacy through art. Her beautifully-crafted decoupage book-themed chairs (that are commissioned for public spaces) spread the joy of reading in a unique way.
“Lisa’s ingenuity to find a different way for children to discover a book, and in the process, foster a love of reading, defines Judith’s Reading Room’s mission,” explained President and Co-Founder Cathy Leiber of Judith’s Reading Room. “She inspired the judges to honor her with not only a Board Option prize, but also with its desire to commission a Vergara chair in honor of Dr. Lisette Caesar, past principal and founder of Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem, NY.”
“It is an honor to be named a 2022 Freedom Through Literacy Board Option prize winner,” says Lisa. “Through my literacy work I am able to provide learning lifelines and resources to children and families who need them the most. The grassroots nature of my work generates dependable and adaptable services for community advancement.”
Vergara understands that art engages children in a similar way to reading. “Both require concentration, focus, observation of details and thoughtful conclusions,” says Lisa. Vergara’s chairs draw the attention of children, who “read” stories emblazoned on them, while crawling around and sitting in them. “The foundation of early literacy is instilling a love of reading so children gain the confidence to reach their full potential, achieve one’s dreams and become powerful thinkers,” she continues.
Judith’s Reading Room, a nonprofit literacy organization based in eastern Pennsylvania, was founded in 2010 in memory of Judith F. Krug, a librarian, and cousin to the organization’s founders. Judy served as the Director of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association. Judy dedicated her 40-year career at the American Library Association to protect the freedom to read, especially books that were threatened or even banned.