Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Invitation

If you walked into my home and looked around, you’d see books--shelves, stacks, baskets and on a really good day, piles on the couch or windowseat. Over the years, we’ve grown from board books to chapter books and have delighted in every step of the way.  From Goodnight Moon to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, we have lingered over cozy fireplace pictures with bunnies and, more recently, difficult questions that propelled significant conversations that otherwise would never been shared.  We’ve slammed books and hit the couch over the injustice of slavery and discrimination.  We’ve cried when when Anne “with an E” 's beloved Matthew died.  We’ve been comforted by homey settings, kind families, pictures of love, sacrifice and happy endings.  We’ve been inspired by the baseball players who, in the 40’s and 50’s, made the game America’s favorite pastime today. We’ve hid under the blankets waiting for all the heros to come out on top~ some did, some didn’t. We’ve begged for one more chapter after the classic cliff hangers in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  We’ve gotten goosebumps when Aslan showed up just in time.  We’ve laughed at the antics of those endearing animals who loved a bear named Pooh.  We’ve booed characters like Rachel Lynde, Templeton, Nellie Olson and Jadis, the White Witch.  We’ve sat in silence after reading about Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., George Mueller, Abraham Lincoln and nameless people who did extraordinary, history changing things.  We’ve experienced these things because we have all piled on the couch and read together.

Trips to the library and Barnes and Nobles have been a part of our weeks since the kids were old enough for storytime.  What’s NOT fun about books, crafts and free flowing Goldfish Crackers in paper cups?  {And while I am thinking about it, Pepperidge Farms, what’s in those things that makes a 3 year old sit like a statue?} One trip to Barnes and Nobles was extra memorable because it was where Julia decided to pick up a book and try out her tongue phonetically.  She was tired of waiting for someone to find the time to read to her, which we did quite a bit, but she was ready to discover the stories on her own.  Now, at 10, she’s read hundreds of books that will stay with her the rest of her life.  It’s an education all on its own-- with the right books chosen, a really wonderful education.  And she doesn’t even know it, because she enjoys it so much.

But unfortunately there are children in our neighborhoods who will never know the excitement of beginning “Chapter 1” and losing track of time in a book.

~ 1 out of 4 children in the United States grow up without knowing how to read.

~ Nearly 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

~ Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.  {Some cities decide on the size of new prisons based on the literacy rate in the 4th grade.}

Reading changes everything.  Learning to read can keep a child in school, give a child a high school diploma, open the door to better jobs, give them a new pastime, a chance to maintain their health because filling out forms at the doctor’s office isn’t intimidating, keep them off the streets and give them a skill they will need every day for the rest of their lives.

Last year, the FWISD, due to budget cuts, lost their reading coaches who were available to help any children falling behind in their reading skills.  Even they were overwhelmed by the need so Tarrant NET, with Read 2 Win!, is inviting the Church to come alongside our schools, partner with the elementary schools long term and help with this growing problem.  And the FWISD's reaction??  "Please, please come!  We need you!"

How will the Church in Fort Worth respond?

I don’t think the practical benefits can be separated from the spiritual because it all flows into and out of the same place.  So just think, to teach a child to read means he can read for himself that God will never leave him or forsake him, that God has plans to prosper him, to give him hope and a future, that God will provide for all of his needs, and the one that bridges the dark chasm, that God loved him SO much that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to die for him so he could live forever with God. Now that has the potential to change a family.  Teaching a child to sound out consonants and vowels, whether, initially, it be in books about Dick and Jane or Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books, could possibly change generations.

Who would NOT want to be a part of that?  It’s a tangible skill we take for granted, like knowing how to make a PB&J, you can share with a first grader right here in Fort Worth that opens up the world for her.  Her confidence level will soar and she will know she has the opportunity and the ability to give back.

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
 ~Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

What must you do to get to do this?  Commit to 1 hour a week at the school with which your church is matched.*You will get to work with two little first graders who are struggling to put the sounds together.  Read 2 Win! will provide everything you need~ flashcards, schedules, prizes, motivational charts etc.

We have two 2 hour trainings scheduled from which to choose: Thursday night, September 13th and Saturday morning, September 15th.  Christ Chapel has graciously accepted to host the trainings for us. {Details below.}

Come and experience that magical moment when a child’s tongue begins to produce words, sentences and paragraphs.  Getting to see the satisfaction of accomplishment split their little face with a huge grin will send you home with feeling that same sense of accomplishment and I bet, that same grin.

Her "magical moment"

Thursday, Sept. 13
6 to 8 p.m.
Christ Chapel Bible Church
The Chapel {old sanctuary}

Saturday, Sept. 15
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Christ Chapel Bible Church
Oak Room {Link Bldg. 1st floor}

{If you have any questions, call the Tarrant NET office at 817-738-0607.}

*If your church is not participating and you would like to be a Reading Coach, Tarrant Net will put you in contact with a Campus Coach in a church nearby so you can participate and have a helpful contact.


Elaine said...

I WILL do this eventually. The idea of an extra hour a week at this point overwhelms me, but I so want to do it. Thanks for the great post! I loved reading about your family reading!

Leslie Bannister said...

I am so excited you guys are pioneering this here- you have always inspired ME to read more and I love to read, I know many will be blessed by this.
I want to commit to this for sure, however we are moving on the 14th- anyway there will be a different training time?

Emily said...

This made me want to get off of my computer and into a book! Also made me tear up a little thinking about Wycliffe Bible translators who have taught so many people to read so that they would be ready when the Word was. Excited to participate!

Krista Sanders said...

Elaine-- you have inspired a host of people. I will be thrilled when you can join the team!
Les-- I want you to move, come to the training, take snacks to all the baseball games and make a meal for the Covenant Faculty!! ; ) Yes, we will have another one-- not sure when yet. Coordinating now with the ISD to figure that out. THRILLED you want to do it!!!
Em-- Wow. Never thought about that. Of course.

Sarah said...

This seems like a great opportunity. I'm not sure I can do it right now, but maybe someday soon :) You have done such a great job using books in your home.... your kiddos will have so many great memories of their childhood involving books. Glad you get to pass this on to others :)

TJ Wilson said...

awesome, awesome.