The following story is from our partners at the National Center for Family Literacy. It is one of many examples that show how you help children and families around America and the world just by buying and donating your books with Better World Books.
Crystal and Cindy are both fourth graders at Pleasant View Elementary, a small rural school located in southeast Kentucky.
The school meets many of the community’s challenges with a dedicated staff and innovative approaches to education. A third of the population in the rural town lives in poverty; eighty-eight percent of the children at the school are poor. The school struggles with low parent involvement in school activities; many parents seem intimidated when they do visit the school.
Crystal and Cindy also share tragic circumstances: both of their mothers died recently. Because of the project funded by Better World Books, they are learning together after school. They also are forming a powerful bond and helping each other overcome a very difficult loss.
The girls are participating in a unique after-school reading and learning project featuring the age-old art of quilt making that is inspired by Wonderopolis®, an award-winning daily learning website launched in October 2010 by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). The quilt is one of the program’s offline activities taking place during reading nights at the school, and closely connected to the students’ exploration and learning through Wonderopolis; the quilt-making activity offered many teaching opportunities, particularly as explored in Wonder of the Day #124, How Do Quilts Tell Stories?
Pleasant View is one of the LEAP Wonderopolis mini-grant winners supported by Better World Books and managed by NCFL.
Cindy has a bold, energetic personality. Crystal is timid and keeps to herself. They are a great match despite their differences. As their group explored Wonderopolis and worked on the quilt, Cindy continually tried to nurture Crystal—who initially resisted. Overall, the children participating in the project enjoyed talking about the various things as they worked, sprinkled with a lot of laughter.
Gradually, these conversations evolved into more personal insights. Unexpectedly Cindy announced her mom had died two years ago and offered details about the experience. She and her two brothers are now living with their elderly grandmother. Crystal eventually shared that her mom had died, too, and she and two sisters were now living with their grandmother.
The girls’ participation in the after school program encouraged them to interact and discover commonalities, which led to a special friendship that has carried over into the school day. The strength of that relationship was and is being built while learning together and experiencing the quilting bee.
Like most of the students in the program, Crystal and Cindy do not have computers at home. So they spend a portion of their free time in the program searching Wonderopolis for other projects to take on.
“I know Wonderopolis really good and I can show other kids how to use it,” Cindy said.
Marie Carr, the program’s leader and the school’s reading resource teacher, is using this opportunity to entice and draw ideas from other school staff on how they could systematically use Wonderopolis, “a great resource and secret treasure waiting to be discovered, especially by educators!” The project has revealed to Marie the power of these types of programs. “I am sure many other children are in similar circumstances and could benefit from other students—given the opportunity to learn and share together.”
And there will likely be more projects like this one at Pleasant View Elementary. Because the kids participating in the project asked to learn how to make clothes, the school has applied for five sewing machines to be purchased for more afterschool events.
“The impact that programs like this can have is limitless, and I see it leading to more learning programs at our school. We are excited that all of this happened here at Pleasant View and through a funded opportunity from Better World Books!”
There are countless more children like Cindy and Crystal who are longing to learn in a more engaging way. Each time you buy or donate a book with Better World Books, we are able to help these kids develop a love of learning. You can learn more about our worldwide literacy impact here. Thank you!