Group three spent Saturday afternoon in Riverside. It was a beautiful--if windy--afternoon and we had about 15-20 children, one parent, and one grandparent spend time with us on encouraging literacy.
Brett, his friend, and Claudia set up the "Book Walk" court. Modeled after the old "Cake Walk" only the prize was a book of choice. The students had obtained over 40 books, so each child had the opportunity to receive several books throughout the afternoon.Here, Danielle looks on as her group members place the numbers. She gently chastised the group about the tiny size of the numbers. Behind her, the clearing is under way for the new park promised by the city. Finally, children will have a place near by to play, with a basketball goal, baseball field, and playground equipment.
Danielle and Claudia set up the "go fishing" game, testing out the state of the art fishing poles.
This scene was my favorite! It exemplified the fun of the afternoon, the camaraderie of the group, and their ability to work together for the benefit of the community.
The event was perfect for our age group. Generally, the after-school crowds are a little older and rowdier. These pre-schoolers were not only having fun, they were well-mannered (Yes, ma'am) and polite in waiting their turns.
Charlotte would identify gender and age level so that the "catch" was appropriate for the developmental level and interests.
Behind the scenes, Claudia was assisted by one of the older children who enjoyed helping select the right book or toy.
The final activity was a bit more cerebral, playing a literacy game of rhyming words, and the opportunity to select another book. Our top three "prize books" were from Barnes and Nobles, and were excellent hard cover books. Those were thanks to my dear niece who sent a gift card to her Aunt Susie!
My favorite conversation of the day was talking with the grandmother who had brought her 4 year old grand daughter up to participate. I explained who we were, and how long we had been coming to Riverside. She said her grand daughter loved books and would enjoy having her read her new books to her later. It was such a joy to see all the children be excited about books and participate. In Lafayette County, Mississippi, black and white children start school at the approximate same reading level, but by third grade, that level drops significantly for black children. By seventh grade, only 15% of black children are reading at the dismally lower proficiency levels in Mississippi. (We set our own proficiency level at lower than the national levels, so when our children can't read, they really cannot read.) Part of why we are at Riverside has been the desire to change that statistic, even if for only one community.