March will soon be here and since literacy is a problem across the Rez we want to help get kids reading by sending books for all ages to our donation areas. Read Across America is also in March and many schools will be taking part in that annual event but that’s only one day, our goal is to encourage kids to read every day of the year! We want to support and help grow the libraries we’ve started on the Rez and add to those in the classrooms of schools we help. Hopefully kids will catch the reading bug and want to start their own personal library at home. Reading opens up the world to children and helps equalize differences that may exist socio-economically.
Many kids on the Rez are 2-3 years behind in reading skills due to lack of access to books. We hope to encourage parents to start their children on the road to literacy by reading to them beginning in infancy and explain to them why it’s important for their development. Reading to their children may even encourage parents to read more themselves. There are only a few public libraries on the Rez, one at college center in Kyle which makes visiting them out of the question for many rural families without transportation or gas money. Many Rez schools don’t have libraries which makes supporting individual classroom libraries vital so kids have access to books they can take home at night. The more children read the better their vocabulary and comprehension skills become, making reading an enjoyable experience. Reading books about topics they’re interested in such as sports, art, music, etc. makes it more likely kids will stick with reading and develop the skills they’ll need in adulthood. Magazines are another way to get kids reading, especially those that appeal to their age group.
If students can’t read or comprehend what they’re reading they won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the class causing them to fall behind, become discouraged and maybe drop out of school altogether later on. As adults, dropouts will be ill equipped to read or comprehend a prescription, fill out forms for getting a bank account or apartment, read a utility bill, or complete a job application. Education and access to books for children and parents we help on reservations is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Those working in libraries, schools, youth centers, and clinics need to encourage reading whenever they have the opportunity. If parents can’t or won’t read to their children it’s important to encourage older children to read to their siblings or volunteer to read to kids at youth centers, school, etc. Reading needs to start early so kids don’t become one of these statistics.
- 25% more likely to not graduate from high school
- 40% more likely to become a teen parent
- 60% more likely not to get a post-HS credential
- 70% more likely to commit a crime as an adult
Making themed literacy bags , busy bags, or activity bags is another way to encourage reading and getting parents involved as younger kids will need their help. Check out these ideas on Pinterest here. Many parents may not know how to teach their children so these bags contain instructions and everything they’ll need to work with their child. Research tells us children perform much better in school when their parents are involved with their learning. If kids have resources such as a writing tablet, pen or pencil, crayons/colored pencils and drawing pad they can express themselves with ideas inspired by reading books. They can jot down words they don’t know to ask an adult or look up in a dictionary, write their own short story and illustrate it or write down their daily thoughts in a journal, all these activities further reinforce reading and writing skills.
Books and activity/literacy bags can be used in all our donation areas including our newest, Mary M. at Bright Start. Mary can use both to give to women and their children when making her home visits. Kimmie can use them at the shelter as an activity for moms to do with their children, at the My Space Youth Center to build the library started by SFK member Laurie A. last summer, and at the Community Development Corporation to give out to moms coming in at the end of the month looking for diapers and formula. Marty Indian School can use books for libraries in individual classrooms and also for the Feather Store for children to buy with feathers they’ve earned. Another way to encourage reading in older children is to make a monthly calendar so they have plenty of ideas to increase their reading and learning experiences.
Unfortunately at the moment there’s no way to get books into the hands of kids in Wanblee UNLESS we put a book in each child’s weekend backpack at Crazy Horse school. Since this is a relatively new program we would have to look into that possibility. Once the community center is completed there will be formal programs parents can attend to learn new skills and activity bags and books can be given out to encourage them to work with their children. They plan to have a library at the center where kids can come and read and it will also be a resource for the after school tutoring program.
You can find plenty of books by shopping your local library sales, garage sales, thrift stores or your own children’s bookshelves. Scholastic has books on sale at all times and if you are helping a classroom, ask a teacher if she has an account as she can get new books once so much has been spent. Amazon Smile has new and used books, cheaper books can be found at First Book Market place, and Martha G, one of our own volunteers sells books thru Usborne. Hold a book drive at your church or club or ask your kids to hold one as a scout or school program. Books and magazines for infants through elders are needed avoiding those with religious connotations. Please send your books to the location of your choice, addresses here. If you’re sending only books, (media) the most economical carrier is the post office via media mail. In our area we leave the box open for inspection and tape at the PO. If you have other materials to send use your usual carrier. Anything with advertising such as magazines can not go media mail. For those put in a flat rate box or envelope.
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Thanks as always from Sew For Kids!