My freshmen students come into my class on their first day of high school a little scared, a little brave and with a lot of willingness to learn and explore. They are leaving behind childhood and beginning young adulthood. No longer do they get "socially promoted" and now they have to earn their grades to pass classes and graduate from high school. This can be a struggle for a large number of students, as 64% of our student body are not at grade level reading.
"Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are".
- Mason Cooley. In a largely Hispanic town (93%) of approximately 21,000 people, more than half live below the poverty level, so travel is a luxury not afforded by many. The idea of having books beyond textbooks from school is quite often deemed unnecessary, and as an extra expense. When 65% of our community does not have a high school diploma, reading is not valued as a resource to gain literacy skills and a complete education.
I want more for my students. A present and a future where they can experience the world for real or from a book.
During summer school I teach our incoming freshmen in a class called "Summer Bridge". This class is for kids that are in the middle ground between could fail or could succeed in school. I believe that given the best support, encouragement, and strategies, all students can succeed. One of the strategies I offer to increase their chances of success is reading for fun. More than 64% of our students are below 6th grade reading level when they step on campus for the first day of their high school career. I believe that their literacy, vocabulary, spelling, sentence structure, grammar, writing and imagination can be increased by reading for fun. I want to provide them with the box sets of books that go along with some of their favorite and high interest movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Eragon, Twilight, and more.
I have a "cozy cave" area in my classroom with comfortable seating, pillows and throws, that the students may use after school to select a book from the in-class library to read at leisure.
I would also tempt them with tea and biscuits, popcorn and soda, or like refreshments. It would be a warm, friendly, encouraging atmosphere where kids can feel safe to just enjoy a good book. I will be there to assist in any troubling words or vocabulary. It will be a refuge to students that love to read but don't have books or snacks at home.
The donations to this project will help to improve my students' literacy and love of books.
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