Literacy, Books & Advocacy: Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California

 

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I love books. The smell of books, picture books, fashion books, yoga books, and tear your heart out books. This school year, when planning for our year long social studies unit, Friendships & Schools, I immediately thought of literacy. Not knowing if our K/1 class would be able to grasp this big concept, we went ahead and tried.

As we wrap up our learnings, we are blown away by the discussions we have had with our little ones. We investigated the book system, the library system, the literacy system, the friendship system, the school system, and how they are interconnected. Our little ones said:

Books let you travel the world.

Books are my friends.

I can learn about animals because I care about them.

Without books there would be no understanding.

Books teach you about other cultures, and how we are both different and the same.

Books teach you about the Life Skills.

In learning that books and literacy help support one’s overall well-being, our K/1 class took a walking field trip to the local library. The children’s librarian thoroughly shared the many systems found in the library. They were in awe when they saw the vast assortment of books. Then we wondered, “What about the communities where access to books and libraries is limited?”

Kids designed cozy reading spots during BlockBuild.

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imgres-2.jpgWe gathered inspiration from the picture book, Waiting for Biblioburro, by Monica Brown. The book is based on Luis Soriano, the Colombian teacher/librarian who brings books to children in the countryside of Colombia. We discussed that we, as community members have a responsibility to rebuild systems that are broken or unbalanced. In the spirit of Biblioburro, our students partnered with Reading is Fundamental of Southern California (RIFSoCal). Our little ones purchased one new book with the money earned doing various chores. They washed cars, swept the floors, helped with laundry, and even scrubbed handprints off the wall. They also went through their personal at home libraries and chose 3-4 books to donate. Our class then beautifully decorated book bags and used them to store the books. We will be donating the book bags, and the books, to RIFSoCal in an effort to support their mission of literacy and learning in school communities. A big bravo and love hug to our little, yet mighty advocates!

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
―Jorge Luis Borges

 

 

 

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A Sense of Home: A community based solution to empower youths who have aged out of the foster system.

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Our year long social studies unit of study has been Families & Homes. As we finish the school year, we have been reflecting on the many things we have learned. Through our Maslow study, our little ones are well aware of how their family structures positively impact them. They have shared that families support you, encourage you, keep you safe, and most importantly love you. We asked our students, “What about the children who don’t have such families? Who keeps them safe? Who takes care of them? Who encourages them to be the best versions of themselves?” They were at a loss because this harsh reality is something they have not experienced.

My lovely K/1 colleague had the brilliant idea of teaming up with the non profit organization, A Sense of Home (ASOH) to provide our little ones with a meaningful service learning project. ASOH gets donated furniture and home supplies, and helps out of age foster youth create their first real home. After many class discussions we posed the questions:

  1. How can we advocate for those who don’t have a voice? 
  2. How can we improve the belonging system for youth who have aged out of the foster system?

 

Our little ones made lists of the basic household items they use on a daily basis. Eventually they became two lists: bathroom and kitchen items. Then we decided that the first graders would bring gift baskets with bathroom items and the kinders would bring kitchen items – because as a little one said, “K is for kitchen and for kindergarten!” Students were instructed that their parents were not to pay for these items. They had to earn them by doing various chores at home. Many of them groaned at the thought, but as time went by, their sense of pride and community spirit deepened. To earn money they had lemonade stands, sold their art work and washed windows. My favorite was a little one who held dance performances for their parents after dinner

 

We also got lots of great feedback from parents:

I took my son to pick out the items for his basket this afternoon. In the back of the car holding his jar of money he said to himself, “This is when it all pays off.” He was so excited. And he feels such ownership of the project. We went over budget vs. what he had in the jar, and he has been working off the balance all afternoon because he wants to “pay for it all”. It’s an awesome project.

It was so lovely for me to witness my daughter really getting into working on assembling this Sense of Home basket for a kid in need. I could see that she truly empathized with these kids and her heart went out to them. In addition to the other things, she was particularly concerned that if the foster kid aging out is female, then she would need sanitary napkins. And she’d need deodorant if she wanted to try to get a job to earn income. And she’d need encouragement and something to brighten her days because she wouldn’t have parents to encourage her. She and her brother made a framed picture and included some silk hydrangeas in a vase for encouragement…

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On Friday, our K/1 students brought their baskets and walked them to the bus. They were full of pride as they saw all of the things that they were able to donate as a result of their hard work, compassion and want to support their community. All of the K/1 classes participated in this service learning project. Some classes made candles, others made books and sold them at school to raise funds. With the funds collected they went to IKEA as a class to purchase household items (brave teachers). It was truly inspiring to see our school community collaborate together to support such an amazing organization that empowers our youth to hold tight to their hopes and dreams.

It takes a village to raise a child. – African Proverb

 

If you would like to donate and support A Sense of Home, please visit:

http://asenseofhome.org/donate/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ASenseofHomeMovement/