|Life is better with books.|
|Books fresh out of the box the day they arrived at my hut|
About a year ago, an NGO called Trees for Life donated two boxes of children’s books to my host organization (MCCC) through their Books for Life program. Although a number of neighborhood kids read them at my house immediately after I opened the first box, it took a few months for the women to decide the best way to put this donation to use.
It was finally decided that we would start an English Reading Club for school children. Our goal was to get some high school students to take leadership of the group; to plan and read with the younger children. It was a brilliant plan, as it would increase the community engagement and English skills of both age groups. After a few attempts to do leadership training with high school students chosen by my organization to lead the club, we realized that high school students are exceedingly busy between school, traveling to and from school, homework, and their chores. They simply were not interested or motivated to use their small amount of free time to lead the club.
|My counterpart and a dozen children reading at one of our|
first book club meetings.
As a result, my counterpart, Ausi ‘Mareisi, and I stepped in to get things started. We are still hoping others will take on the leadership of the club over time, but at least for the moment children are getting the opportunity to read books in English. They practice reading the books aloud to one another, which is helping to bridge the gap between their abilities to read and write English compared to hearing and speaking it.
There is nothing quite as exciting as watching a child who rarely gets to look at a stack of books reverently pick up one and start sounding out the words within it.