Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In The Spotlight: Middletown Community Foundation

Middletown Community Foundation Executive Director T. Duane Gordon presents Addie Kiser with a book in appreciation of her donation of her first communion gifts to the Middletown Community Foundation.

Guest blogger: Duane Gordon

Sometimes the significance of a gift isn’t measured in its size or the size of the giver. Sometimes small gifts touch the heart more than a big check, and sometimes these small gestures generate positive coverage that your program otherwise wouldn’t have received.

One of our best stories at the Middletown Community Foundation affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Middletown, Ohio, came from a compassionate young man who became our youngest-ever donor and has begun a legacy of giving back.

Logan Kiser’s parents, John and Avinne, tried to instill in their children a sense of responsibility to help others, but they didn’t really understand the impact they had made in this area until their 8-year-old son asked to give away the money he received as a gift in honor of his first communion. He attends a Catholic elementary school and initially wanted to help kids who had trouble affording meals in the cafeteria, but he soon found the school already had a donor taking care of that need. Then his attention turned to the books his little brother received every month.

“My brother Grant is always so excited when he gets those books,” Logan said of the monthly gift that Dolly and the Middletown Community Foundation made possible for their family. “I thought it would be really neat to help other kids get them, too.”

So he took the $50 he collected in first communion gifts, his parents matched it with another $50, and a family friend matched the entire contribution with another $100, resulting in a total gift of $200 to buy 100 books for local children last year.

Asked why he didn’t want to use the money to buy something for himself, he said simply: “I’ve already got enough stuff.”

We wanted to recognize his enthusiasm and selflessness, so we contacted the mayor, who issued a proclamation making it Logan Kiser Day, and the local daily newspaper published a wonderfully heartwarming story that drew welcome attention to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Community Foundation. 

Middletown, Ohio, Mayor Larry Mulligan presents a proclamation to Logan Kiser declaring it Logan Kiser Day in appreciation of his donation of his first communion gifts to the Middletown Community Foundation affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

But the story didn’t end there. A year later, his little sister, Addie, chose to make a donation through the Community Foundation to a local summer camp for underprivileged youth with the money collected from her first communion gifts, which allowed us to celebrate a mayoral proclamation of Addie Kiser Day and another story in the newspaper.

Logan also joined his sister on her day to repeat his initial $50 gift to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which his parents again matched and the family friend again matched to total another $200 to buy another 100 books for local kids this year.

We can’t wait to see what their little brother, Grant, chooses to do in another couple of years!

About the Foundation: The Middletown Community Foundation serves approximately 110,000 residents of northeast Butler County and northwest Warren County within the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area in Ohio. Founded in 1976, it currently has more than $30 million in charitable assets and provides more than $2 million per year in support to the local community in the form of grants and scholarships. More than $1 million per year in funding assists students with furthering their college education, about $500,000 is granted to local charities through a competitive application process for local projects, and more than $500,000 is distributed from restricted funds where the donor has directed how the funds are to be spent. The Middletown-area affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has been operated by the Middletown Community Foundation for six and a half years, in that time distributing more than 130,000 books to over 6,000 local children. Its current enrollment of about 3,000 children makes it a close second to Greene County as the largest affiliate of Dolly’s Library in Ohio. Since inception, entering kindergarten literacy scores have been monitored with the area’s largest school district, indicating that children who receive Imagination Library books in Middletown score on average 8 percent higher on these assessments than those whose parents do not enroll their families for the books.

Friday, July 17, 2015

"I Know A Wee Piggy" author, Kim Norman

Written by: Kim Norman
Illustrated by: Henry Cole

Guest blogger: Kim Norman

Wee Piggy, that colorful scamp, comes with me to every school I visit. Kids love the book – especially Henry Cole's hilarious illustrations – but they also love sporting the brightly colored aprons I bring along for students to wear onstage as I read the book. Of all my books, I think I KNOW A WEE PIGGY is one of the most fun for children to interact with. As you read it to your own children, you'll notice they'll begin to guess the color coming up on the next page.

I love that we don't need fancy gadgets to read to our kids, and that books can be read anywhere… even on the kitchen floor! I was delighted to find a YouTube video of a young dad reading I KNOW A WEE PIGGY to his children while sprawled on the kitchen floor. With a little girl on one knee and a little boy on the other, he sends both kids into fits of laughter as he waits, with great suspense, to turn each page. When he does, the kids explode into giggles, waiting for the next page turn. The girl's a bit older, so I'm proud that she clearly knows the book well, calling out the next color while waiting for her mischievous dad to turn the page.

When it comes time for Q&A at the end of my school programs, students sometimes tease me. "You must really love pigs!"… because I KNOW A WEE PIGGY is not my only book that features pigs. I live in Smithfield, Virginia, "The Ham Capital of the World." Like the famous painted cows in Chicago, Smithfield boasts barn animal statues, too: life-sized pigs, painted with vivid scenes and designs. One of them colorfully guards the entrance to Windsor Castle Park, only a few hundred yards from my front door. I wave to him every morning as I walk my dogs. So I probably do think about pigs more often than other writers do.

Colorful painted pig at Windsor Castle Park

I can also brag that, as a young child, I participated in an old fashioned "greased pig contest," at a county fair. Most summers when I was a child, we visited my grandparents in Maine. One summer, my two brothers and I had our names drawn, along with nine other children, to participate in this messy, muddy contest. There were twelve kids and only ten pigs, but somehow, my brothers and I all managed to catch one a piece! When my parents allowed us to enter the contest, they didn't think to ask what we would DO with the pigs if we caught them. We were camping on a lake!

The rest of the evening is the stuff of family legend. We tethered those three little pigs to a pine tree, but that evening, one got away and headed for the lake. Maybe, like dogs, baby pigs know how to swim, but we'll never know. My mother made a heroic leap and caught THAT Wee Piggy just before he "wallowed in blue" lake water! The next day, my grandfather drove us to a friend's farm where we each sold our pigs for ten dollars each. I bought a watch with my riches. Sometimes, I really wished I'd kept that pig instead.

At least he lives on, years later, in my colorful Wee Piggy.

About the author: Kim Norman is the author of more than a dozen children's picture books. In Smithfield, Kim’s parents restored a Victorian home in which her father left one deliberate flaw: a hole in the first floor ceiling for her dad’s pet raccoon to stick its upper body through, hang from, and wave at you. Yes, really.



A fun day at the fair becomes color chaos when one boy's energetic pig gets loose. Upside down, piggy wallows in brown, but that's only the beginning of this cumulative, rhyming text. Soon, he's adding a rinse of red (tomatoes), a wash of white (milk), a pinch of pink (cotton candy), and many more. Can piggy be caught before he turns the whole fair upside down?
With exuberant art by Henry Cole, this wild pig chase is a natural choice for teaching colors and begs to be read aloud.

Publisher Credit:
I Know A Wee Piggy” is published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of: Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

Used with Permission

Copyright Notice:

Text Copyright © 2012 by Kim Norman. All rights reserved.
Illustrations © 2009 by Henry Cole. All rights reserved.