We believe that equity in education can be achieved by supporting the core skills of literacy (reading, listening, and writing) at an early age. By providing free, inclusive and diverse books to empower them, Meet-the-Author/Illustrator events to inspire them, and writing contests to ignite their imaginations and validate their experiences, children will form a strong foundation for becoming confident and contributing citizens in their communities.
Random Acts of Reading (RoAR) is designed to support children by providing exciting literacy projects. By partnering with quality publishers with inclusive, diverse, and educational titles, we aim to promote literacy and the joy of reading with young students, inspiring them to write and share their own empowering stories, as well.
Reading is essential to the development of young creative minds, and while several wonderful non-profit organizations exist that help provide books to kids in need, RoAR goes one step further. Not only do we provide an opportunity for children to get books, but we also provide opportunities to meet authors and artists and be encouraged to explore their own writing and illustrating skills. This gives children a richer experience and a connection to writing itself.
RoAR will help fill this gap by providing opportunities for students to experience diverse reading-related educational programs. In addition, all students will be invited to participate in a writing contest (YACK!) to provide a forum for them to share their own creative stories. Proceeds from the sales of the winning books will benefit non-profits. With the winning authors making the decisions about where the proceeds from their stories should go, we are empowering a new generation to become active contributors to their communities.
RoAR believes that all children should feel represented and valued in their communities and that literacy is an important tool for facilitating this. The core values behind RoAR stem from the idea that every child is unique, important, and worthy. When children feel seen and heard, they will develop healthy self-esteem and emotional intelligence. These qualities enhance learning and growth and assist in their development into positive forces within their communities. Social responsibility and community engagement are key values, as is the idea that early quality educational opportunities are invaluable to the positive development of society.
RoAR appreciates the creative potential of all children and fosters this by focusing on listening, reading, and writing. To this end, we provide:
- Meet-the-author events
- Free, quality books, and
- Writing workshops and contests for kids.
Kids are inspired when they get to meet authors and learn about their writing journeys. They feel valued when they receive a book, especially when it is by an author they have “met”. They are encouraged to share their own stories and they feel validated when other kids around the world can read their stories in the online YACK! library.
RoAR also provides a means to teach hands-on community action by empowering kids to become active members of their communities by sharing their words and actions.
Penny Eifrig is executive director of RoAR, who has been working on getting good books to kids for almost two decades. She started an indie print, Eifrig Publishing, in 2006, after working in translation for publishing houses in Germany for many years. In 2015, she created the non-profit Random Acts of Reading, initially to simply make it more affordable to bring author events to schools, including free books for all. During the pandemic, RoAR focused on providing free books with free school lunches.
Penny has long been looking for ways to support indie authors in getting their diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids, and in early 2022 she had the idea to combine the ideas of author visits, free books, and supporting diverse authors as a way to improve literacy. These ideas were perfectly bundled by combining these elements with book vending machines and a quest for the golden ticket. The result is the completely revitalized website filled with fabulous diverse and inclusive books together with book vending machines and a fun literacy program to distribute them.
Penny received her BA degree from Cornell University in German Studies and Russian and Soviet Studies and an MA from the Free University of Berlin in Modern History and German Literature. She raised her bicultural German-American kids on two continents and has worked in academic settings in the history of education and multicultural education, as a translator, as a field assistant for NBC News in Berlin and Moscow, and she runs a publishing company, a translation company, and the non-profit.