Last weekend I attended a Read Across America fair at one of our local shopping centers. The event was aimed at the 0-6 year level. It was very well attended with parents having the chance to speak to heads of various organizations regarding their interests or concerns. Kids were having lots of fun, evident from all the laughter and smiling faces. They listened to stories, participated in crafts, sang the words of the book “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, watched skits of “Dr.Seus” and “The Grinch” and watched a guinea pig perform while author Alice McGinty read her book “Eliza’s Kindergarten Pet”. Each child got to choose a book of his/her own and I noticed even at their young age they had a strong preference for one type of book (animals, nature, trains, etc.) over another. I had fun observing the kids and got some ideas on how we might be able to incorporate books into our sewing/crafting projects (a future blog). Also picked up lots of material to share with our friends on the Rez about children’s reading programs.
The community center in Wanblee is interested in receiving books for children so they can help build libraries in their homes. Books could also be kept at the center for activities held there and also be distributed to the local medical clinic or school to reach more children. The local school and the Wanblee Community College have books for the children but the school library is not open to the students in the summer and the selection of books at the college and school for the various ages of children are few. Children especially need books to read (or be read to) throughout the summer so they can continue to learn and build good reading habits.
When first visiting the Rez I remember seeing lots of kids just sitting around with nothing to do, books could help alleviate some of that boredom. Even though there may be events to attend such as camps, many cannot participate because they have no transportation or need an adult to accompany them. There is an effort to bring more activities to the communities but funding is always an issue and there are so many small communities on the Rez that they cannot reach everyone.
We are looking for books suitable for babies through age 15. We also need ideas for items to accompany the books to help bring them to life such as puppets, costumes, felt boards and characters, etc. These are laminated pictures to depict the story. The pictures can have a magnet attached to the back to hang on a fridge, a felt backing for a felt board or a tongue depressor stick attached to make them into puppets. Clear sticky shelf paper was used to laminate as it is a lot cheaper than the laminate sheets. These were made by daughter’s in-laws.
The Lakota people are an oral society with story telling being one of the ways children learn about their family heritage and customs, however Lakota themed books would be welcome too. Books with craft ideas would be especially good for the community center so the personnel there could plan activities for the children.
Great places to find books are online stores such as Amazon and Ebay, your local book stores, thrift stores, garage sales, library sales and books your own children or grandchildren have outgrown. Please share with us a list of books you’re sending so we can keep our database up to date and concentrate on those age groups that may not be getting adequate donations. As always we welcome ALL ideas and suggestions and hope you’ll join us in this important project.