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ELCA Youth Gathering Blog

Blast Off for Books!

– Cody Miller

The Gathering identified the need to lift up literacy as part of the Service Learning experience. Through the many conversations with literacy-related partners in Houston, we learned that many of the students in the Houston Independent School District enter school lacking reading-readiness skills. Up to the 2nd grade, students are taught and graded on their ability to read and write; once they get to the 3rd grade, they are expected to know how to read or write at their grade level. For those who do not read or write at their grade level by 3rd grade, they are at risk of never catching up.

Image courtesy of the Barbara Bush Literary Foundation

One reason for the lack of reading readiness skills is that families struggle to provide books for their children to read at home. Some families are unable to promote literacy at a young age because of the need to prioritize financial resources on the most necessary things: shelter and food.

There is a stunning statistic from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation: there is one book for every 300 kids in low income neighborhoods.

Books are most beneficial to students when they are in their homes. With this in mind, we are asking all participants to bring books to Houston from a curated book list. These books will then be distributed to kids who do not have easy access to books.

During the Gathering, several groups will sort the books and take them to various locations throughout Houston for book fairs for their Service Learning Day project. During these book fairs, Gathering participants will interact with kids from the community with games and literacy related activities. The kids in the community will go home with books.

By putting these books into the hands of these students, you are helping to promote literacy and playing a role in building a more successful lives.