Kindness and Chaos

The Fabulous Fuhry of an Ordinary Girl

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The Legacy of Literacy – Year 2

I want to start this post with a short snippet from last year’s edition of “The Legacy of Literacy”. I worked hard on compiling my thoughts and into that blog post, and I think this still sums it up, a year later.
{If you’d like to read the entire post (filled with lots of stats and research about the importance of literacy), please CLICK HERE.}

“An Early Childhood Longitudinal study found that 62% of parents with a high socioeconomic status read to their children every day compared to only 36% of parents with a low socioeconomic status.

That is a number that does not surprise many of you. Did you scoff at the lower percentage or did your heart break?
Let me ask you; How can we ask a mom, who is working 3 jobs, to read to her child when she leaves before they wake up and gets home after they’re in bed? How can we ask a family to buy books for their children when they’re putting a box of mac n’ cheese back in the grocery store line, and they’re 2 months behind on the electric bill? How do we demand that parents break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty when they are doing the best they can?

I grew up in a  home that encouraged reading and creativity. A home that included both parents; parents who were educated. Parents who could put food on the table and books in my hand. What are we doing for those who do not have that luxury?

We know that literacy development begins at birth. It’s not trying to teach your 6 month old the alphabet or your 1 year old to read “Green Eggs and Ham”, but it is letting babies play with books and reading them stories they don’t yet understand. It’s dialoging with them so they can learn language through social literary experiences. This also causes children to associate books with attention, affection, and approval.

3-5 year olds who had been read to at least 3 times per week were two times more likely to recognize all letters, have word-sight connection, and understand words in context.

I don’t have a perfect solution or even a multitude of answers on how to eliminate the literacy crisis in our country. I do know that there are a number of great schools and non-profits out there dedicated to getting books into the hands of children, and at the earliest possible age. I hope you’ll consider joining me to help some of those schools and organizations in the state of Oklahoma.”

The idea that illiteracy is plaguing our country is not something new to you (I hope!). Despite the fact that books are more accessible than they’ve ever been, we are still failing to teach the fundamentals to all socioeconomic groups. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, much of which is has nothing to do with willingness and everything to do with accessibility.

Last year I did my first annual book drive in conjunction with Half Price Books. They double the books that you donate and distribute them to schools and no profits who are focused on increasing literacy in our community. This year I have decided to focus my book drive on one specific organization that utilizes books from the Annual HPB Book Drive. While this will not double what is given, it will provide enough books for one program to succeed. I’m a firm believer in focusing on one thing and doing well as opposed to giving a small amount to a lot of things and just getting by. Unfortunately, there are so many asking for books in the OKC Metro, that HPB is not able to give enough for many of those asking.

Last fall I was able to join in on something remarkable, simply know as”Book Club”. Sponsored by Crossings Community Church, the Book Club goes into a low income elementary school, 3 days a week, and reads to the students in small groups.   Book club is one of those non-profit groups in the metro area who asks HPB for books each year. Unfortunately, the help they receive from a number of different outlets continues to dwindle. Once a year, Book Club throws a party at the school called “Literacy Night”. Each grade goes all out to decorate their hallway just like a book they’ve read. Students bring their entire families to walk around the school and experience crafts, games, and snacks from the different story world’s that they’ve created. After a fun night, each child that walks through the door gets to take home a book. EACH CHILD. If you don’t see the importance of putting books into the hands of children, who don’t have them readily accessible in their homes, I encourage you to read my post from last year.

I’m a reader for Book Club on Wednesdays, during my lunch break, and the impact of this group is indescribable. Each week I take a small group of kids (2-4) and read a chapter or two in a book that is at or just above their grade level. They follow along with me, sometimes they read, and then we answer reading comprehension questions and go over the definitions of words they may have not seen before. The kids become so immersed into the story. When we finish, they want to continue to reading. It makes my heart SOAR to watch kids become so excited about books. Perhaps the best part about Book Club is that when we finish, the book they’ve been reading becomes their own. You would be so amazed at how many of these children don’t have books in their home. Taking home something that they can call their own is an honor that they take very seriously. They treasure these books, and hopefully the memories they make while reading them.

So this year, I’ve decided to take the books from my book drive and give them directly to book club. I would love for them to not have to scramble for books for their Literacy Night. Their goal is to have TWO Literacy Nights a year instead of one, because they’ve seen the difference the book club has made in these student’s lives. The school’s reading scores have gone dramatically up since Book Club has entered the school. Last year (2014-2015 school year) was the first year and it was optional for the kids. Because of it’s tremendous success, all 2nd and 3rd graders participate by giving up one recess a week.

We have another school in the metro requesting for us to come in and help with their reading program. They are not just a low income school, but an inner city school as well. It is our hope that with enough support we could begin implementing some variation of Book Club in the school by the start of the 2016-2017 school year. It is my hope that by giving Book Club some of the resources (in the way of books) that it needs, we can successfully launch into a new school while also growing in a school we’re currently succeeding at.

I would love for you to help me with this drive. Last year you all brought in over 250 books for the cause! Let’s knock that out of the park this year!
I’m looking for books all the way through 7th grade reading level.

Just like last year, I’ll be giving away 1 gift card to one of you who donates! You could win $10 to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Half Price Books!

Please send all donated books to:
Ashley Fuhr
8600 NW 116th Street
OKC, OK 73162

If you are in the OKC metro area, please contact me and we can discuss drop off locations or the possibility of meeting times.

-Ashley

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Ashley • February 10, 2016


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