Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The AchenBoodle Book Drive

When my son was little, I read the bedtime stories. I was angling to pass the George Will Custody Test which says that whichever parent can recite the first page of Cat In The Hat from memory gets the kid. My son wasn’t all that big a Dr Suess fan, but we had Chicka Boom and Ready Teddy down cold. I finally got the boot as bedtime reader when he kept reading ahead of me out of one of the Narnia books.

I figured my job was done, but my son remained an indifferent reader through elementary school. In another bout of parental bonding guilt, I decided we would join a book club. The local library runs book clubs for all ages and had one for middle school aged parent/child pairs. Both people had to read the book for the month and then meet at the library for a group discussion with refreshments afterwards.

The book club facilitator would start each year with a big cart full of candidate books and then take votes on the selections. He would subtly steer the kids to some more issue oriented books rather than just pure adventure or fantasy. Since the demographics skewed slightly male, the choice of books appealed to my son. It also exposed him to some genres and writers he would not normally read. When we joined, there would be about half dozen kids each month. A few years later it had grown to nearly twenty pairs each month.

After three years, my son’s reading level had outpaced the book club selections and we dropped out moved on. As the receipts from the local BigBoxOfBooks will attest, his reading pace hasn’t slowed down any.

I’m not trying to just brag about what a good reader my son is or what a great dad I am. My point is that getting kids to read is more than just teaching them to read. I have an “imaginary” friend on the internet that goes by the name Cassandra S. She volunteers with a reading program in rural North Carolina. Her group does not have the resources of an affluent suburban library system. She has asked our little on-line community for help with her program and we think a great aid would be to donate books for her group. Let me let her say it in her own words:

We're targeting early readers or beginners, and trying to help those that are struggling with reading. Of course, we want to encourage children to go beyond what they think they can do, but we certainly want them to feel successful in whatever they strive for. I work with primary, middle school, and some junior high students.

She also added a list of books recommended by some teachers and librarians including:

Fourth Grade
  • Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume
  • Super Fudge by Judy Blume
  • Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachan
  • Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World by Margaret Pitts Walters
  • The Whipping Boy by Sid Flieschman
  • How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  • Ramona Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • Because of Winn Dixe by Kate DeCamillo

Sixth Grade
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Cay by Theordore Taylor
  • The Adventure of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • Famous Story for Performance Holt, Reinhart, Winston
  • Local News by Gary Soto
  • Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jang
  • Journey Home by Yoshiko Uchida
  • Myths, and Folktales Holt, Reinhart, Winston

The Library List
  • The Farm Book by Jan Peloog
  • Little Black Pony by Walter Farley
  • The Horse in Harry's Room by Sud Hoff
  • Cowboy Slim by Julie Danneberg
  • All the Pretty Horses by Susan Jeffers
  • No Howling in the House by Erica Farber
  • Dinosaur Hunters by Kate McMullan
  • Fox Be Nimble by James Marshall
  • Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel
  • A Garden for Miss Mouse by Micheala Muntean
  • No Carrots for Harry by Jean Largerman
  • Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
  • Pigs Pigs by Gail Gibbons
  • Buck-Buck the Chicken by Amy Ehrlich
  • True Blue by Joan Elste
  • My Little Red Car >by Chris Demarest
  • Franklin's School Play by Pauletter Bourgeois
  • Clifford's Family by Norman Bridwell
  • Moongame by Frank Ash
  • The Reason For a Flower by Ruth Heller
  • Lady and the Tramp >by Disney
  • Miss Piggy's Night Out by Sara Hoagland Hunter
  • The Great Pet Sale by Mick Inkpen
  • Bunnies and Their Grandma by Amy Ehrlich
  • Fievel's Big Showdown by David Kirscher
  • Leaf Jumpers >by Carole Gerber
  • Find Nat by Kelli Foster and Gina Erickson
  • Daisy Rabbit's Tree House by Penny Dale
  • Humpty Dumpty as told by Kin Eagle

Cassandra added:

Now if any of you know of good African-American stories, I would love those very much. The lists given to me contain just a few of those stories, but not many. The public library here has just a few, but I know there are so many out there even if I cannot get them here. I would love those stories as well as the above lists. And this isn't all, folks. I have another list to get from the school this morning. And please feel free to throw in your favorites. I want the children to have access to a lot of what goes on in this world, and it can all begin with books. Thanks again.

She also mentioned the need for some professionally published series aimed at teaching reading skills.

Seedling Publications and access their leveled reading site. Choose from emergent and fluid readers categories.

Lerner Classroom, at this site we have different categories of books for K-3, 4-6 grades. I would love to have the science, health, and earth series. If possible the classroom sets would be wonderful.

Scholastic, at this site one has picture builders, skill builders, character counts, early readers, and the list is endless. Any choice from here would be great.

My family had a big purge of the kiddie books a few years back, but I wondered how many of my readers had extra books that could use a second home in place that needs them. Books even get a big discount at the post office, so really all you would be donating are books your kids have outgrown and a little postage. I'm sure new books would be appreciated as well. To protect Cassandra’s privacy, I don’t want to give out a mailing address except to people that e-mail me at yellojkt [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.

Since my audience consists of mostly LostGooglers® searching for unsavory topics, I would sincerely like to have some links to this post from more reputable sites to help spread the word. Because getting kids to read is hard, but the rewards are amazing.


HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...


APN said...

Done as well.

Thanks for setting such a great example Courtney.


Anonymous said...

Great post, yj!

I will spend some time this weekend looking for reputable sites to post the link on.

Is that going to be like Diogenes's search?

Be sure to plug your post over at Achenblog--in sales this is called "radiation"--the feeling that "everybody's doing it" is a powerful motivator.

I'll link on my blog, but nobody reads that except my immediate family and achenbloggers...


There are few things sadder than a kid with no books.


Anonymous said...

added to my site as well...


Anonymous said...

I checked into shipping the whole carton of books that was left when my boys left home for Cassandra, but the post office by weight and size says $200. Not quite worth it. I doubt that the books cost that much. Thanks for making me think about other rates, and possibly a donation rate. I will to enquire tommorrow. But I am working on it. You never know what resources you have until you check into things.


Mooselet said...

While I can't donate to this fine cause from all the way over here, I will do my bit by finding a worthy cause here to donate my kid's books to. Thanks for lighting a fire, yello!

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