Edge Magazine Features Project OpenBook

Reading Done Right

Article written by Kathy Rygg of Edge Magazine

Photo by Christopher Tierney

Reading Done Right

A year ago we introduced you to MarbleSpark, a local publisher that writes and illustrates custom children’s books using a child’s name, providing a personalized gift cherished by kids and parents alike. But when founders Phil and Stacey Haussler discovered that 61 percent of children growing up in poverty don’t have a single age-appropriate book at home, they decided they wanted to expand the mission of MarbleSpark to help lower that statistic. The impact they’ve made on the community in the last year alone is nothing short of impressive.

The Haussler’s launched Project OpenBook alongside MarbleSpark and set out to create a community-built book by sourcing short stories and illustrations from authors and illustrators from around the world. In 2016 they completed and published that book, titled The Yeti in My Freezer. Inspired by the famous children’s author Shel Silverstein, The Yeti in My Freezer includes 42 whimsical, humorous short stories accompanied by black and white illustrations that help tell the mischievous tales.

Once the book was complete, the Haussler’s partnered with local non-profit DIBS for Kids, DIBS standing for “Delivering Infinite Book Shelves.” DIBS for Kids helps schools raise funds to secure age-appropriate books, sets up in-classroom libraries with an easy, automated check-in/check-out system, and provides the administrative support to keep it going so that each child is able to take home an average of 80 books per school year.

The Haussler’s wanted to take the DIBS for Kids concept one step further. They printed 1,000 copies of The Yeti in My Freezer and gave them to elementary students throughout five participating DIBS for Kids schools. Each student received their very own copy, not just to borrow, but to take home and keep. “Getting books into the hands of kids is so important for their development, as well as for their joy and entertainment,” Stacey Haussler said. “Even if we can impact one child who gets excited about reading, it’s worth it.”

Project OpenBook was able to donate another 500 books to students in Bellevue schools this year, and they sent 100 books to Educate Uganda this past summer. To date, 1,700 copies of The Yeti in My Freezer have been donated. “Our goal is to get that book into the hands of as many kids as possible,” Stacey said. “Our entire mission is to make amazing books, do good for others, and repeat the process.”

According to DIBS for Kids, more than 14,000 elementary students in Omaha’s largest public school system don’t have access to age-appropriate books at home, so Project OpenBook has lots of room to continue to make an impact. As DIBS for Kids adds students to its program, the Haussler’s hope to continue to partner with them and donate additional copies of The Yet in My Freezer.

Although all of the funding to print and ship copies of The Yeti in My Freezer has come from profits on the sale of MarbleSpark’s custom books, the Haussler’s plan to eventually make The Yeti in My Freezer available for purchase with 100 percent of those sales going toward printing additional copies to be donated to Project OpenBook’s partner programs. “Our goal is to keep going,” Stacey said. “We’ve started in Omaha, but we want to eventually reach kids in communities all over the world.”

See the online article here.

Learn more about Project OpenBook.

Top Picks: 2018 Kids’ Halloween Costumes

kids' Halloween costumes

Anyone else having trouble figuring out the kids’ Halloween costumes this year?

We have one little one in our house who is stifled by all of the choices.

“I just can’t decide. Maybe a Minion since I have overalls. Or maybe a pug-i-corn. (A cross between a pug and unicorn, I’m told.) Or a police officer.”

We also have a pre-teen who is too cool for a costume this year. However, I think we still need a back-up plan for when he decides on Halloween night that he does, indeed, want to trick-or-treat.

So, for all of those trick-or-treaters who can’t–or won’t–choose, we thought it would be fun to put together some of this year’s top picks for kids’ Halloween costumes. We also threw in a few of our favorites from years past. More…

Raising All Boys is Like Football Season Every Day

Raising all boys

Football season is officially here, but when raising all boys, every day is like football season in our house.

Tackling. Refereeing. Coaching. Not hearing the coach because the crowd is too loud.

Broken plays. Broken bones. Smelly, sweaty people. Victory dances (mostly Orange Justice). Grass stains. Cleats. Timeouts. High-fives. More…

Pirate Books for Every Age

pirate books

Check out this list of pirate books–which range from fun preschool rhymes to heart-pounding thrillers—and unleash your inner sailor in honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day.”

Before doing a little research, the only thing I knew about “Talk Like a Pirate” day is that we threw out some pirate lingo on Sept. 19 and got free donuts at Krispy Kreme.

Turns out, there’s not a whole lot more to the day than that.

A couple of regular guys just thought we needed a swashbuckling-lingo holiday and the date of Sept. 19 wasn’t taken. And that’s that. Read their story here.


What We Love About Grandma’s House

grandma's house

What do you remember most about going to your grandma’s house as a child?

For me, it was kneading the dough for apricot and cherry kolaches.

Never-ending games of Canasta.

Riding in the way-back of the station wagon with the dog and no seatbelts.

Climbing into the underground outdoor storm cellar–where grandma also stored all of her homemade jams–during a tornado warning.

Those memories are so vivid. I remember the smell of the kolache dough and the pastel peach color of the card holder that I used to hold my Canasta hand.

Grandparents Day

In honor of Grandparents Day celebrated earlier this week, we thought it would be fun to ask this generation of kids what they love most about going to grandma’s house.

Turns out, things aren’t SO different—minus the outdoor storm cellar, which has become a thing of legend around our house.


Our Book Drop with Educate Uganda

Educate Uganda Book Drop

For the past several years, our family has been involved with a local nonprofit called Educate Uganda.

The Founders are part of our church and have made it their mission to help educate orphaned Ugandan children, as well as improve the learning environments for these kids. Studies have shown education is the key to ending so many struggles of Ugandan orphans.

This organization hits home with us because, as parents, one of the most important things we can give our children is an education. More…

Our Favorite Funny Parenting Quotes

Funny Parenting Quotes

“Yes, you have to wear underwear.”

“Can somebody please get the underwear away from the dog!?”

“Please don’t use the same piece of toilet paper to wipe then blow your nose.”

“The floor vent is NOT a toilet.”

“Is that marker on your face or are you bleeding?”

So, that’s my week.

Needless to say, I’m looking for a little parenting inspiration.

Here, we’ve compiled some of our favorite funny parenting quotes that remind us that, if nothing else, we’re all in this together. More…

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Best Baby Gift

Welcoming a baby into the world is a magical and life-altering experience.

An epic adventure like this calls for a gift in equal measure. We’ve heard countless times why gifting our personalized children’s book, Following Featherbottom, to new parents is the best baby gift. More…

How to Start a Summer Book Club for Kids

summer book club for kids

Are you looking for a fun way to incorporate reading in to your family’s schedule over the break? How about starting a summer book club for kids?

It’s the perfect way to combine the excitement of a playdate with learning, avoiding the academic “summer slide” that happens when kids don’t read over break.

Excited to Read

Katie Keber, a teacher and mom of 4, has organized a summer book club for her crew and their friends for the past five years.

“I think what the kids love the most is an opportunity to get together with friends,” says Keber.” “Every spring my kids start asking me about summer book club and begin brainstorming books and activities they want to incorporate.

“It is awesome to see them so excited about reading!” More…

When Your Child Has a Holiday Birthday

Holiday Birthday

Birthdays. Kids look forward to them with gusto. If your kids are anything like mine, they start planning their next birthday party literally the day after celebrating their birthday!

When our son was born on the Fourth of July, I was thrilled to welcome little “Lincoln” into our family. I also wondered how to handle celebrating his future holiday birthday.

Holidays are important in their own right. Kids look forward to them and many family traditions occur around these special days.

Then how do you make your child’s holiday birthday special? More…