Putting Our Motto into Action: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

The National English Honor Society (NEHS) motto, “Gelest Sceal Mid Are,” is Old English for “duty goes with honor.” Every year, chapters engage in outstanding projects that exemplify putting the motto into action. This year, NEHS has the opportunity to participate in a joint project with Sigma Tau Delta, the university-level English honor society, and with Sigma Kappa Delta, the honor society for Two-Year Colleges. The project will help raise funds for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides books to enhance the literacy of children in low-income communities.

Dolly Parton's Imagination LibraryDolly Parton’s Imagination Library

The Imagination Library fosters a love of reading among preschool children and their families by providing one specially-selected book each month from birth to the child’s fifth birthday. According to David Dotson, the president of The Dollywood Foundation, “Dolly started the Imagination Library as a gift to the children in her home county [in East Tennessee]. We never dreamed this effort would now span several countries and will soon attain an incredible milestone—gifting books to 1 million children per month.” The Imagination Library’s 2015 Annual Report highlighted some of the program’s achievements during its 20th anniversary year:

  • 2 million books donated in 2015
  • 9 million books donated since 1995
  • A new book is gifted every 3 seconds
  • Over 915,000 children received a book in December

The program has expanded far beyond America and now operates in Canada, the UK, and Australia, with additional efforts in Belize to discover the program’s potential effectiveness in emerging countries.

Fostering Literacy at the Chapter Level

Dolly Parton's Imagination LibraryNEHS has the opportunity to help the Imagination Library reach more students and gift books to over 1 million children in need. We challenge all chapters to sponsor ten children. That is only $250 to provide ten children with a year’s worth of books! This year, proceeds will be split among South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky—three states greatly in need of our help—along with the company that produces books in Braille.

Chapters should mail a check for the money collected to the Central Office by June 1. Checks should be made out to National English Honor Society (NEHS), and the chapter and school name should be entered in the memo line.

NEHS Central Office
Attn: Imagination Library
Department of English
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

All money raised will be presented to the Imagination Library in a single check. Please do not send money directly to the Imagination Library.

Resources

Follow Hot English Topics on NEHS Social Media

National English Honor Society (NEHS) is on social media and we’re waiting for you! Over the past year NEHS social media has stepped up its game. In addition to our existing Facebook and Twitter accounts, we have joined forces with our sponsoring organization, Sigma Tau Delta, to create joint accounts under the name EnglishMatters across several new social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Just find and follow us on the platforms you currently use for updates on society news. NEHS social media also posts about hot topics in the field of English such as STEAM, college admissions/college transition, EdTech, careers for English majors, pedagogy, grammar, and English humor. If you aren’t following NEHS social media yet, here is a sampling of some of the great content you have been missing:

What Can I Do with an English Major

“The story of the unemployable English major is both powerful and damaging, since students are more than ever concerned that their choice of degree will lead to successful employment—reasonably so considering the lingering effects of the recession and the high cost of postsecondary education in the US. Hence it behooves us to counter the belief that English majors can’t get a job.” Keep reading

The View from Hemingway’s Attic: Political Correctness in Novels

“I was reading Chad Harbach’s novel The Art of Fielding and cruising along and then I just stopped. I had tripped over a word and at first I thought it was a typo, something that slipped through the proof reader if there is such a person anymore. But then I realized the word was intentional and that the novel had fallen victim to the dictates of political correctness.” Keep reading

The Decline and Fall of the English Major

“In the past few years, I’ve taught nonfiction writing to undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard, Yale, Bard, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t.” Keep reading

English Teacher’s Hip-Hop Curriculum Gets Students Writing

“With new academic standards ratcheting up literacy expectations, many teachers are looking for ways to engage students more deeply in writing and reading assignments.

Lauren Leigh Kelly, an English teacher at Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills, NY, and an adjunct English instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University, has found that incorporating rap and hip-hop culture into the literacy curriculum can help connect instruction to students’ individual backgrounds and foster their interest in writing.” Keep reading

Flannery O'Connor writing quoteWant to Write Better? Read Better Writing.

“Reading is a critical skill taught in elementary and secondary school. As children, we start with the ABCs and work up to classics such as Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’ After graduation, however, many individuals stop thinking about the importance of what they read. Yet the quality of what one reads directly affects the complexity of his or her writing, according to a new study in the International Journal of Business Administration.” Keep reading

Study Finds Allowing Devices in Classrooms Hurts Academic Performance

“When faculty members at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point took away students’ computers and tablets in an introductory economics courses, their students’ grades jumped.” Keep reading

To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf

“The humanities are kaput. Sorry, liberal arts cap-and-gowners. You blew it. In a software-run world, what’s wanted are more engineers. At least, so goes the argument in a rising number of states, which have embraced a funding model for higher education that uses tuition ‘bonuses’ to favor hard-skilled degrees like computer science over the humanities. The trend is backed by countless think pieces. ‘Macbeth does not make my priority list,’ wrote Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and the author of a widely shared blog post titled ‘Is Majoring in Liberal Arts a Mistake for Students?’Keep reading

I'm just a Poe boy memeI Would Rather do Anything Else Than Grade Your Final Papers

“Dear Students Who Have Just Completed My Class, I would rather do anything else than grade your Final Papers. I would rather base jump off of the parking garage next to the student activity center or eat that entire sketchy tray of taco meat leftover from last week’s student achievement luncheon that’s sitting in the department refrigerator or walk all the way from my house to the airport on my hands than grade your Final Papers.” Keep reading

STEAM: The “A” Stands for the Arts

“Last week I wrote a post about STEM . . . how the emphasis in public education is on science, technology, engineering, and math . . . as being the appropriate preparation for today’s jobs. I do not disagree that these fields are where the jobs are. I do, however, think that the ability to communicate clearly is still important, as is the role of the arts in a well-rounded education.” Keep reading

An E-Book UI That Lets You Flip Digital Pages, Just Like a Real Book

“If a book is good, you should be so immersed in it that you don’t care how far you’ve read or how much further there is to go. Does that sound like a good rationalization for the generally terrible navigation schemes that we put up with in our e-books? I love my Kindle, but using percentages instead of page numbers makes me feel like I’m reading a calculator instead of a book.” Keep reading

sentence fragment someecards#Yodify your Grammar

“With the arrival of the anniversary of the initial release of the first Star Wars movie, we at Grammarly started to reflect on what makes the films so great. Being language lovers and word nerds at heart, we are particularly fascinated and charmed by the grammar of the great Jedi master, Yoda. To celebrate our love of Star Wars, we dissected a few classic Yoda-style quotes in order to better understand the patterns that #yodify the English language.” Keep reading


NEHS Social Media

englishmatters snapcode

NEHS Social Media Facebook NEHS Social Media Twitter NEHS Social Media Instagram NEHS Social Media Pinterest

Celebrate Banned Books with NEHS

As literature lovers, it is our instinctual response to regard Banned Books Week with a modicum of solemn reflection; a week when we think about the thousands of people unable to enrich their literary lives with profound works like Animal Farm, Lolita, and Harry Potter (my personal favorite). The loss of awareness is something all literary scholars dread and actively work to stave off. Emotionally, the idea of “banned books” hits upon a specific nerve found especially in those who deeply love the written word.

Read Banned Books

While I recognize the need for pensive contemplation, I propose that English students, academics, and aficionados adopt a new emotional regard for the week. Instead of thinking about the losses and setbacks caused by banned or burned books, we should observe the celebration of shifts in human ideology and history. Many books are banned because they conflict with historically sensitive events. When we’re still learning how to deal with these ideological conflicts, the literature supporting controversial beliefs is often the first thing to be villainized.

Banned Books PersepolisFor example, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, is a memoir detailing the author’s experiences growing up during the Iranian Revolution. The critically acclaimed text has received accolades for its honest and visceral depiction of such a politically charged and controversial historical moment. However, Persepolis is one of the most contested books of the past decade. Many reasons for banning the text stemmed from anti-Islam relations following a post 9/11 ideological shift. The lifted ban on Persepolis signaled the merit of Satrapi’s text and was indicative of the tensions between America and Iran at the time. In this case, and many others like it, literature and book-banning history reflected the tumultuous issues occurring in contemporary society.

Instead of looking at Banned Books Week as a solemn affair, let’s regard it as a symbolic indicator of human progress and achievement. If that doesn’t seem sufficient enough reason to celebrate, Banned Books Week exemplifies the dynamic power of literature as a touchstone for humanity.

Banned Books Persepolis comic

So celebrate by reading a recently challenged book, or just read Harry Potter again as I am doing.

Banned Books Week Social Media Contest

In celebration of Banned Books Week Sigma Tau Delta and National English Honor Society are teaming up to host a contest across our combined social media accounts. We want to hear about your favorite banned book! To participate you must tag us in a post about your favorite banned book on any of the following social media accounts:

In need of some inspiration for your post? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share a photo of your favorite banned book on Instagram
  • Share your favorite quote from a banned book on Twitter
  • Share your rationale against banning books, or banning a particular book, on Facebook
  • Send us a Snap talking about your favorite Banned Book

The contest will run from Sunday, September 25-Saturday, October 1. Everyone who participates during this time frame will be entered in a drawing to win one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. A $45 Amazon gift card also will be awarded to the best overall post. You may post to multiple accounts to improve your odds of winning, but please tell us about a different book in each post!


Banned Books Haley HelgesenHaley Helgesen
Student Representative, Midwestern Region, 2016-2017
Phi Delta Chapter
Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL