Literacy

The Answer to Literacy… You!

It was a bit disheartening to see a recent article in the Fresno Bee sharing the Nation’s Report card putting Fresno Unified “near rock bottom”. We can talk for days about the problems, the issues, the reasons, and it’s easy to point fingers and cast blame.  But you know what they say: “When you point a finger at others, four fingers are pointing back at you.” Actually, I believe they are pointing back at ALL of us, because we all have the opportunity to be part of the solution. So let’s talk about what you can do to help increase literacy, and the fulfillment that can be found in helping a child learn to read.

Carol YoungThe Answer to Literacy… You!
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Free Little Libraries – A Good Way to Neighbor

The Little Free Library network in Shafter (15 miles northwest of Bakersfield, CA) has blossomed to include 22 libraries scattered around town. These libraries are an intentional effort on the part of both public and private entities. These entities want to increase book access and literacy rates in their community. Read our previous blog about them here.

About a year ago, my family made the decision to place a Little Free Library in our front yard. As stewards, we fill our box with books and watch with joy as they leave in the hands of our neighbors.

We leave sidewalk chalk in our box and regularly find pictures and thank you notes from those who visit. These messages always brighten our day!

A few months after we installed our library one of our 3rd-grade neighbor boys ran to our house after realizing he was locked out of his. He had no way to get in and was very concerned.

andrewfeilFree Little Libraries – A Good Way to Neighbor
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Free Little Libraries – Spreading Literacy

ENP has made a significant investment in addressing literacy in our city. Literacy Mentoring has taken off at several schools, with both one on one and group literacy support. As we continue in this work we know we have to address literacy from several fronts so we are excited about this new literacy initiative.

Free Little Libraries.

One of the biggest challenges for low-income families with regard to literacy is the lack of access to books in the household.

Sixty-one percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. That includes children and adult books! What we know is that the only measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national dataset of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials—not poverty—is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition.” This is not just a home issue, but a neighborhood issue. One study found that in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio is 13 books per child; in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one book for every 300 children. (1)

andrewfeilFree Little Libraries – Spreading Literacy
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Changing the Future of Fresno

For most middle and upper-class families, the ability to read is something we take for granted. Books were aplenty in our homes and still are.

Imagine living in a home that doesn’t have any books, much less a bookshelf. Mom loves and works hard for you, but has little to give after her second part-time job ends at 8:00pm. Did I mention Mom doesn’t speak English? She wants to help you with your homework, but she only finished fourth grade in Mexico so she can’t read the words on the page. This situation and many others like it play out every day in our schools.

Fresno Unified is made up of just over 74,000 kids. Over 18,000 of them are English learners, and 86% are living in poverty.[1] How do we make a difference in a city and a school system that has so much need? How do you go about changing the future of Fresno? Help a kid learn to read.

andrewfeilChanging the Future of Fresno
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Spreading the Joy of Learning

Several weeks ago, I walked into a first-grade classroom, excited about getting to know 26 enthusiastic kids and anxious to help them with reading. It didn’t take long for me to be reminded why volunteering with beginning readers is so rewarding.

On my first day in a classroom this year, I began working with students to see how many sight words they knew. A few of the kids did pretty well, and I could tell they had someone at home who had been working with them. There was a confidence and pride in their accomplishments. But it became clear after just an hour in the classroom that many of them needed some extra help and encouragement.

Carol YoungSpreading the Joy of Learning
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ENP Literacy Panel

Imagine living in a home that doesn’t have any books much less a book shelf. Mom loves and works hard for you, but has little to give after her 2nd part time job ends at 8pm. Did I mention that mom doesn’t speak English? She wants to help you with your homework, but can’t read the words on the page. She only finished 4th grade in Mexico so she can’t help. This situation and many others like it play out every day in our schools.

Fresno Unified is made up of just over 74,000 kids. Over 16,000 of them are English Learners and 86% are living in poverty.

andrewfeilENP Literacy Panel
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The Impact of Love & Two Hours a Week

For the past 5 years, these ladies have been working with 1st & 2nd grade children at Addams Elementary with children who are struggling with letter sounds or just need a little extra help getting caught up with the rest of their class. They are making an impact in the lives of these kids!  Most (not all) are retired teachers who are doing what their “teacher hearts” love to do . . . help kids learn!

Carol YoungThe Impact of Love & Two Hours a Week
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