On Saturday, December 3, 2011, the NJ Center for the Book awarded the 2011 Miss Rumphius Award to Kim Zito, school media specialist at Crossroads Middle School, South Brunswick. It was presented at the NJ Association of School Librarians.

Ms Zito, was the driving force behind South Brunswick’s first ever 2011 community-wide reading initiative entitled South Brunswick Reads . . . The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was a ground-breaking partnership between the South Brunswick Public School District and the South Brunswick Public Library, having won quick approval from both the School District Board of Education and the Public Library.

Ms. Zito created a wiki for school district staff, library staff, students, and the public to explore and celebrate South Brunswick Reads. The wiki included access to free e-book and audio versions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as video clips from different film versions. There were resources for students, links to lesson plans for teachers, and listings for activities at the public library. The wiki also included interactive learning opportunities for students and a number of internet resources.

In the schools, students who read the book hung a golden brick with their name on it on the school walls, building a yellow brick road throughout the district.

Ms Zito was nominated by Chris Carbone, Library Director of the South Brunswick Public Library. Carbone pointed out that schools and public libraries can easily partner together and promote a title for their community to read. The program naturally lends itself to creative ways to incorporate a theme into library programs, school assignments, family experiences and a shared journey that will increase a sense of community.

To quote Betty Turock, who chaired the awards committee, “this was among the most ambitious activities that I remember reported in the years of this contest.” Her creative use of internet resources, collaboration, innovation, and ability to be replicated made Ms Zito’s submission the outstanding selection this year. Other members of the committee were Dr. Gus Friedrich, Marianne Gaunt, and Dagmar Finkle.

Miss Rumphius Winning Programs