Your Next Summer Read is Here!
Introducing a beautiful mess by Ali Berlinski
Pubslush Press’s debut title is here!
Order your copy today!
Be one of the first to own the first book to ever be published by a crowdfunding platform. Your friends will be so jealous.
Ali Berlinski bravely walks readers through a compilation of short stories starring her own family and the result is a narrative that’s partmemoir, part survival guide, and part love story. With divorced parents split between two coasts, a nanny-turned-stepmom, finding love, losing it, and beginning all over again, Berlinski navigates the mayhem of her life with a sense of humor that will have you laughing and wanting more.
Don’t forget, for every book sold, a children’s book is donated to a child in need. You get anawesome summer read and you’ll feel goodabout it. Win-win.
Stuff We Love: The Uprise Book Project
What is The Uprise Book Project?
The Uprise Books Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty through literacy, encouraging underprivileged teens to read by providing them with new banned and challenged books. I know rattling off the mission statement isn’t exactly the most exciting answer to that question, but I think it makes a reasonably good elevator pitch.
Why is part of your mission to provide teens with banned or challenged books?
We know there are a couple of big hurdles when it comes to getting teens to read. Simply getting kids access to books is the first step… kids in poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer books in the home (one study showed that the ratio of books-to-kids in middle class neighborhoods is 13:1, while in poorer neighborhoods it’s a horrifying 1:300… as in 1 book for every 300 kids), they tend to live further from public libraries, and they tend to attend poorly-funded schools.
But just getting teens books isn’t quite enough. There are so many things working against them… family obligations, poor reading skills, various entertainment options, and, unfortunately, negative peer pressure around any sort of “intellectual” activity, just to name a few. They need more than “eat your veggies because they’re good for you.” We believe that the “forbidden fruit” angle can help.
We’re also very much against the idea of institutionally-endorsed censorship, especially when so many of the books that are banned and challenged are being kept from the kids who need them the most. Imagine a teenager discovering her own sexuality in a district where books are challenged for “homosexual content,” or the sons and daughters of immigrants in Arizona seeing their school district pulling books about Mexican-American history. Those actions send a clear message to teens: “there’s something wrong with you being who you are.” We simply think that’s wrong. We take the American Library Association’s stance that the only people who should control a minor’s access to books are his parents, and they should only be controlling their own child’s access.
Finally, it’s also turned out to be an effective fundraising tool. During our Kickstarter campaign, for example, we learned that the anti-censorship message really resounded with some of our supporters, sometimes even more than the anti-poverty one. People seemed more likely to act when they were angry because someone challenged one of their favorite books.
Can you tell us how a book gets banned or challenged?
It varies, depending on the location. Most of the time, the challenges are issued from parents, though they certainly aren’t the only ones. The ALA site has some great stats on their site about the who/where/why’s:
Typically, in the case of schools and public libraries, they have formal procedures for handling complaints received from concerned citizens. The public librarians we’ve met tend to be staunch First Amendment supporters and fight vigilantly to preserve the rights of all patrons (regardless of age) to access books, but they are also obligated to at least investigate formally issued complaints.
Not all challenges lead to bans, of course, and data about challenges isn’t always officially recorded (though the ALA and various state branches of the ACLU do their best). There are times when the complaints might result in some action short of banning. For example, imagine an adult-oriented graphic novel shelved in the kid section with the Batman and Archie books. Few would argue that it might be more appropriate to move that title to a place a little less likely for an elementary-aged child to accidentally pull it off the rack.
How does literacy help to end poverty?
We see a very strong correlation between literacy and income. Adults who can’t read well are much more likely to have lower-paying jobs, if they can find employment at all. The problem is exacerbated in the U.S. by the continuing shift from a manufacturing to an information/knowledge-based economy, one that requires more educated, highly-trained workers. If, like roughly 25% of the American public, you can’t read well enough to interpret the instructions on a medicine bottle, you’re not very likely to find a job that will lift your family out of poverty.
The children of impoverished families find themselves perpetuating a vicious cycle. Parents in low-income families are less likely to promote literacy in the household than their middle/upper-class counterparts, so their children are less likely to pick up the reading skills correlated with future success. Those children grow up to find themselves in the same situation as their parents: poor, unable to read, and raising children who’ll likely continue the cycle.
A recent study commissioned by RIF supports our hypothesis, concluding that “children from less affluent families do not perform as well on achievement tests compared with children of more affluent families” and “one possible remedy to the socioeconomic gaps in academic achievement is to make sure that children of low-income families have access to high-quality, age-appropriate books.”
Geographically speaking, where are your efforts focused?
We’re still in the process of building the website we partially funded through our initial Kickstarter campaign in 2011. That site will allow qualifying teens (those who attend poorer schools or who qualify for free/reduced lunches) to request books regardless of their location within the US.
In the meantime, we’ve been working with a couple of individual teachers who contacted us after reading about our organization online. While our original intent was to work with individual students rather than entire classrooms or schools, we didn’t think we could ignore these kids simply because their requests didn’t exactly fit our intended plan. A few weeks ago, we were able to send 170 copies of “The Catcher in the Rye” to students at the Carrollton/Farmers Branch Dallas Can Academy, and we’re currently working to raise money for kids at Philadelphia’s Creative Learning Academy. You can read a bit about that here.
What is your favorite banned/challenged book?
It really depends on my mood, but usually it’s either “Lolita” or “Slaughterhouse-Five.” I love so many of them, though… For instance, Shel Silverstein’s “A Light in the Attic” is still a favorite in our house, and our son was a huge Captain Underpants fan in elementary school.
How can people get involved?
Giant bags of cash are always appreciated (again, we’re a 501c3, so donations are usually tax deductible). As I type this, we’re pushing to raise $1,500 to help the aforementioned kids in Philadelphia, and we’d love to send them a nice little package before they break for the holidays.
Aside from that, the best way is to spread the word. Follow @UpriseBooks on Twitter, Like us on Facebook (http://facebooks.com/UpriseBooks), subscribe to our newsletter (http://eepurl.com/fv_zw). Tell your friends and family. Send us good karma.
What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
What is Traumatic Brain Injury? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.”
According to Janna Leyde, the daughter of a TBI victim, TBI is less technical, and more something like this: “You’re 14 and your world gets turned upside down and its really shitty and it’s really scary and its really lonely and there isn’t a guide and there isn’t a lot of other people who can tell you what exactly to do and how to react when someone that you love and that you think is going to grow up in a certain way in your life…changes. That person sort of dies and I say sort of, I mean that person does die.”
I have spoken with Janna many times, and she does knows all that technical stuff, too. And she wants to share her experiences–the technical and scary jargon, the emotional roller coaster, the difficulties of having a parent essentially die, while still being alive–with the rest of the world through her memoir He Never Liked Cake.
Prior to Janna posting her memoir on Pubslush, I was personally very unfamiliar with the term TBI–what it means, who it affects. I knew nothing about this traumatic injury that affects over 1 million people every year. Janna is helping to shed light on what used to be an elusive subject: What is TBI? There’s no other book like this available and not only will He Never Liked Cake be an invaluable resource for the children and family members of TBI victims, but also for the rest of the world, like me, who were unaware and uneducated about the matter.
Janna recently hosted an event in NYC to raise support for her memoir so it can be published. Take the time to listen to a reading from her memoir and hear her discuss why she wanted to write He Never Liked Cake: Janna’s NYC Reading
Also, visit Pubslush to provide support so her memoir can be published and her story (and, really, the story of so many others) can be told.
Spreading the Love of Literacy
I felt very inspired by the Library of Congress and the Ad Council’s newest reading campaign. They stress the importance of reading, particularly to your children. The campaign boasts tag lines such as “Read to a child today and spark a lifetime of ambition.” and “A New World Awaits. Read.” These sentiments hit close to home because here at Pubslush, this is exactly what we believe in. We believe a simple book can change the life of a child, spark their imagination, and, yes, open up new worlds and possibilities. Even better, literacy can give an impoverished child a chance.
Our goal is to put a heart into publishing. There are so many opportunities for philanthropy in the world of books, yet it seems very few people in the industry are actively pursuing any. So, that is why we have vowed that for every book sold, we will donate a book to a child in need. Only people like you can help us to spread the love of literacy to those who need it most through the Pubslush Cause. Also, help instill the passion and love of reading into the children in your own life and support the Library of Congress and Ad Council’s campaign.
The above graphic is courtesy of www.read.gov where you can find more information on the Library of Congress and the Ad Council’s reading campaign.