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January, 2010

Two More Bebe Freeman Teacher Grants Are Awarded

by Harry Freeman

Starkville Reads has awarded grants from the Bebe Freeman Fund to two more teachers in the Starkville Public School System. Jeanine Lark at Henderson Intermediate School, and Debbie Vanderford at Ward-Stewart Elementary School
received the grants to support innovative projects to encourage reading.

Ms. Lark's project entitled "To Infinity and Beyond" is a project to not only encourage students to develop more of an appreciation for reading but also to inspire students to consider space- flight related careers. Among the creative aspects for the project is a field trip to MSU for students to fly a rocket they have constructed.

Ms Vanderford's project, "Developing Reading Fluency in a Fun Way," is to encourage better reading skills through the use of self recordings, readers theaters, and repeated readings with recorded media. According to Ms Vandeford, students can improve their skills by hearing themselves reading and having recorded books available to guide them as they read.

These two grants are among six grants awarded by Starkville Reads in 2009. Funds for the grants were provided by The Bebe Freeman Fund, a memorial fund established by friends of Bebe Freeman following her death in November of 2007. Nancy Hargrove, President of Starkville Reads says, " We are encouraged to see Starkville Public School teachers initiating such creative projects. We are glad to be able to help support reading in the schools, and we look forward to continuing our cooperative efforts with the Starkville schools in the future."


News from the Bebe Freeman Fund, November, 2009

Starkville Reads's Bebe Freeman Fund Awards $250 grants
to four Starkville area teachers.

Trustees of Starkville Reads's Bebe Freeman Fund have selected four area public school teachers to receive $250 awards for the first year of the Bebe Freeman Young Readers Grants Award Program. Congratulations to the following 2009 winning recipients :

Julie Kennedy , Quad County Alternative School

Stacy Young, West Oktibbeha County Elementary School

Cindy McMaster, Henderson Intermediate School

Jessica Ferguson, Henderson Intermediate School

Funds for the grants were provided by The Bebe Roberts Freeman Fund, which was funded by friends in memory of the late Bebe Freeman who was a long time passionate public school teacher. The 2009 grants were also supported in part by a very generous donation from friends of Bebe, Elizabeth Huey and Dan Hadley of Cincinnati, Ohio. To date the Bebe Freeman Fund has received some 80 donations. The Fund has contributed to a student drama production at Armstrong Middle School, established a “book niche” for young readers at the Boys and Girls Club and provided partial support for the Guy Reading Shelf at the Starkville Public Library.

During 2009 the Fund will provide support for other projects in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
For more information on the Bebe Roberts Freeman Fund and Starkville Reads, visit

Photo above: Ms. Julie Kennedy, Director of the Quad County Alternative School holds the check while students, Kent Turner, Benisha Swaing, and Jonathan Turner show their support for reading.

Starkville Reads' Nancy Hargrove celebrates their grant award with Henderson Intermediate teachers, Cindy McMaster and Jessica Ferguson, and Henderson students, Terrance Grayer, Nour Jarrah (sitting), Jonathan Brandon, Nautica Rodriguez, and Dylan Sink.


What is the Bebe Roberts Freeman Fund?

The Bebe Freeman Fund was established by Starkville Reads in 2007 to accept donations made by Starkvillians and others from around the country in memory of Bebe Freeman, a Starkville resident who died in November 2007. Bebe was a career public school teacher who taught in schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, the District of Columbia and Ohio. She also was an organizer for the American Federation of Teachers. To date the Bebe Freeman Fund has received some 80 donations. The Fund has contributed to a student drama production at Armstrong Middle School, established a “book niche” for young readers at the Boys and Girls Club and provided partial support for the Guy Reading Shelf at the Starkville Public Library.

During 2010 the Fund will provide support for other projects in Starkville and Oktibbeha County. For more information on the Bebe Roberts Freeman Fund and Starkville Reads, visit this page of our Web site.

Ms. Stacy Young, teacher at Oktibbeha County Elementary School, with her fifth and sixth grade accelerated readers. Front row: Leah Hurst, Adasia Kincaid, Kaitlyn Pendleton, and Haley Ward. Second row: Ms. Young, Bradirick Reed, Tiquaum Jones, Joshua Shanklin, Andryana Bell, Antwanique Bell and Lyndrea Kimbrough.


Two other Bebe Freeman Fund Projects
from Starkville Daily News

Public Library’s ‘Guys Read’ shelf aimed at boys is another project of the Bebe Freeman Fund

Sunday, 22 February 2009
For the Daily News

A shelf has appeared in the Young Adult section at the library. The new “Guys Read” shelf is chock full of books that appeal to junior high and high school guys, with titles such as the manga series “Bleach” by Tite Kubo, the graphic novel series “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” by John Jackson Miller, and the “Young Bond” series by Charlie Higson.

A generous donation from the Starkville Reads’ Bebe Freeman Fund allowed the Starkville Public Library to purchase many new novels, graphic novels, and manga that will appeal to young men.

But, why a new shelf for guys? If you have looked up statistics, perused national test scores, or watched for an afternoon in your local library or book store, you may have noticed that girls tend to read more than guys, girls tend to explore more literary genres than guys, and girls tend to score higher in the reading section on tests than guys. The reasons for this lack of reading among young men are many and probably vary based on which guy you talk to, but many common reasons include: boys don’t often see adult males reading, that books assigned for reading are “girly” or “boring,” that reading is intimidating, or that they just have better things to do. To combat this trend, the Guys Read shelf is promoting a slew of shiny, exciting new books. While the visual appeal of a book is an enormous help in attracting any reader, there are several ways that parents can encourage their guys to read. First, don’t make reading a chore. No one, guy or girl, man or woman, wants to read something that he or she has to read. Second, allow your guys to read what they want to read. If they want to read a Star Wars graphic novel instead of Huckleberry Finn, let them! If your guys are excited about reading graphic novels, they are excited about reading. Once they’ve exhausted the graphic novel collection they will start looking around and will probably stumble upon a format with which you are more comfortable. Third, let them see you reading — and not just “adult” books. Let them see you reading something “cool.” Kids tend to emulate their parents; if a guy sees his dad reading an awesome-looking book about dragons, that guy is more likely to read.
Last, don’t count guys out. Just because the latest statistics and trends show a lack of reading among teen guys doesn’t mean that they are incapable of reading. Instead of talking about how little your guys read, mention exciting books you’ve seen. Encourage their tastes by finding books that sound interesting to them, not to you.

A couple of books that circulate really well with our guy readers are “Runaways,” a graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan, the “Alex Rider” series by Anthony Horowitz, and “The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites” by Heather Brewer. And to all the girls out there, who may also enjoy “Star Wars” and vampire novels, if you see a book on the Guys Read Shelf you want, go ahead and check it out — as long as you’re not afraid of cooties.

Anna Ruhs is the young adult section librarian at the Starkville Public Library. ___________________________________________

Starkville Reads finds ‘niche’ with Boys and Girls Club Members
Friday, 05 September 2008

Starkville Daily News

A love for reading continues to spread throughout the community through the work of Starkville Reads.
The grassroots organization officially opened a new Reader’s Niche occupying a corner of a computer lab at the Boys and Girls Club on Lynn Lane. The space includes bookcases filled with books, bean bag chairs, rugs, posters of celebrities encouraging reading and simply a quiet place to enjoy a good read.

The Reader’s Niche was provided for by the Bebe Freeman Fund of Starkville Reads. The fund provides for different local reading projects in memory of Bebe Freeman, a school teacher and late wife of Harry Freeman, a local proponent of reading. “The Boys and Girls Club has been very supportive of this,” Freeman said. “They really seem to be into reading here.”

During Thursday’s presentation, Freeman encouraged students to make good use of the Reader’s Niche.
“We hope that everybody comes in here and wears these bean bag chairs out,” he said. And, if the chairs do get worn out, Freeman said club would receive replacements. Later in the year, Freeman said he has plans to start a reading program for the Boys and Girls Club students to further encourage their adventures in reading.

Gloria Ervin, Boys and Girls Club director, said the Reader’s Niche will be well-used. “The children here love to read,” Ervin said. “Probably the smallest one in there is our biggest reader.” Jada Beckum, 9, made herself comfortable Thursday afternoon in one of the bean bag chairs and quickly became interested in her selected book — Later, Gator by Laurence Yep. About 140 children take part in Boys and Girls Club after-school programming each week day. The students can take advantage of the quiet reading space when they are done with their homework and other programming activities. “We’re just thankful to help you enjoy the pleasure of reading,” Freeman told the students during Thursday’s presentation.

Freeman and other members of Starkville Reads encouraged students to participate in the 2008 fall community reading events and read The Call of the Wild by Jack London. They also invited students to attend the children’s event at Moncrief Park where they saw live wolves, learned about carnivores and panned for gold.


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