Kids from around the World Tell Us Why They Love to Read

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 14, 2013


From Valentine’s Day to World Read
Aloud Day on March 6, this time of year is all about spreading the love—love of
reading, that is. Teaching our kids to become skilled readers early on is key
to ensuring their success in school and life. This is as true in America as it
is in Nepal, Mali or any other country for that matter. Why? Because education
is one of the most viable pathways out of poverty.

That’s why Save the Children,
through our early childhood education and school-based programs, strives to
help disadvantaged children around the world, including right here in the
United States, develop and grow as readers. The results speak for themselves! In
America alone, 69 percent of participants in our literacy programs showed
significant improvements in overall reading ability and the number of those
reading at or above grade level more than doubled by the end of the school
year.  

Here, some of our once strugglingreaders from
the United States and Nepal tell us how their newfound love of the written word
turned them into young bookworms. 

 

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“I love reading because you can learn many things in a book. You can even learn how to build a hamster home!” –Kori, 7, Point Pleasant, WV

 

 

 

Umesh_Nepal

 

“When I read, my grades will be better. Being able to read helps you read stories. When you can read, you can become anything you want. I like Nepali stories. My Nepali textbook has many stories and poems. My favorite poem is ‘such a pretty sun, such a pretty shadow, the two play together in the ground.’ I think this poem is very nice.” –Umesh, 3rd grader, Nepal

 

 

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“I love to read because the pictures and stories help me to imagine that I am somewhere else!” –Nevaeh, 7, Landers, CA  

 

 

 

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 “I like to read because there are new adventures all the time. Fiction is my favorite, because you can get inside the adventure.” –Brandon, 11, Lobelville, TN

 

 

 

Anita_Nepal“I think reading will make me smart. My father
brought a book for me from Qatar. The storybook is in two languages, Arabic and
Nepali. It’s about a teacher who teaches Arabic. My father reads the story to
me.” –Anita, 1st grader, Nepal  

 

 

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“The more I read, the faster and better I can read. It helps me to get better grades.” –Orlando, 9, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

Bijay_Nepal

 “I
like reading because when I grow up I want to become an engineer or a teacher.
My favorite book is DhungakoKhichadi
(Stone Porridge). I like stories about old men and women.” –Bijay, 3rd grader,
Nepal 

 

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“Because my mama likes to read!” –Kayla, 8, Shaw, MS

 

 

 

 

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“Reading lets me travel to awesome places in my imagination. That’s why I like to read.”—Nyla, 9, Foxworth, MS

 

 

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“Reading is good for your mind.” –Dontavious, 9, Columbia, MS

 

 

 

 

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“I love reading because it takes my mind to a different world.” –Macie, 10, Williston, SC

 

 

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“I love to read because it helps me learn.” –Hayden, 8, Maury City, TN

 


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 “Reading can take you on exciting adventures.” –A.J., 8, Maury City, TN

 

 

 

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“I want to be a veterinarian and reading is helping make my dreams come true! I already work at the zoo and reading has helped give me the knowledge I need to do my job well.” –Dedra, 16, Lobelville, TN (former student in Save the Children’s U.S. school-based program)

 

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“I love reading, because if I read a book and I see the movie, for instance, Harry Potter, I can compare them. They usually leave out details and skip scenes in movies. Books have more details.” –Lauren, 11, Morongo Valley, CA

 

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“I love to read books because it’s the only fun thing I can do.” –Patrick, 10, Morongo Valley, CA

 

 

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“I read because Nana says I got to. It is fun and I learn my ABC’s from books.” –Emilee, 3, Jackson, KY

 

 

 

 

All photos taken by Save the Children staff. 

How Can We Build Hope for America’s Kids?

Traveling in rural Arkansas, you can sometimes forget where you are. The long stretch of bumpy highway, surrounded by cotton fields and rice paddies, could be in one of a dozen countries I’ve traveled to recently. And, unfortunately, the poor families I met could have been from any of those countries too—rather than living in the richest country on earth. The kind of poverty you find these days in America is shocking, and it makes me wonder what’s happened to cause so many families to be left behind.

Unlimited Curiosity

Anoymous womanNora Katz

Washington, D.C. 

April 2, 2012


Nora is a high school Senior from Pennsylvania who will attend Carleton College in fall 2012. She hopes to study political science, history, and literature. She participated in the 2011 Rustic Pathways summer program in South Carolina as a student volunteer and mentor with Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. This year, Save the Children and Rustic Pathways will host summer programs in South Carolina, Kentucky and the Dominican Republic.

When, recently, a friend asked me what the greatest thing I ever learned was, I replied easily with the answer of learning to read and write. This is such a basic gift, such a seemingly simple idea, that we often forget that in South Carolina, for example, 15 percent of adults are functionally illiterate. The downward spiral begins in elementary schools and, with this in mind, Save the Children created an enriched summer program at Foster Park Elementary School to help bring struggling students up to speed with their peers.

Nora Katz cropUnemployment abounds Union, a former mill town where thirty percent of children live in poverty. Most recent Census numbers suggest this alarming statistic will only continue to grow as these kids face the risk of being trapped in a cycle of teen pregnancy, gang violence, drug abuse and the lack opportunity. Save the Children brought 16 high school students to this program to teach and to provide good role models for kids who will eventually end up in a high school with a county graduation rate of only 55 percent. 

The kids I had the privilege of knowing came from different backgrounds and had different abilities, but they were never limited in their curiosity or ability to love. Every day, I was moved by their resilience as they dealt with challenges at home, their success in reading more and more difficult books, and their desire to learn about the world outside of Union. I am so blessed to have been able to know these kids, who constantly surprised me with new questions and new ideas. I am so blessed to have been able to know their teachers, who work for six weeks every summer for very little pay simply because they care. I am so blessed to have been able to meet 15 other high school kids who truly believe in the value of education.           

While I received my own, very different education, I constantly thought about whether or not I made the slightest bit of difference in the lives of the kids I mentored for those two weeks. The greatest issue that I face is knowing that those kids may never think about getting a post-secondary education and may never leave Union, South Carolina. But, as I reflect, I realize that there is a glimmer of hope. If my presence in their lives can make just one of these bright kids crack open an SAT book or dream about going off to college or want to travel beyond the Palmetto State, I have done something marvelous. As I move into a future that these kids may never know, I am comforted by the fact that one child may, someday, remember Miss Nora who taught some math lessons and who desperately wanted to help her global community. And, maybe, just maybe, that child will desperately want to do the same thing.

Keeping the American Dream Alive for Thousands of Children

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 15, 2012


Meet Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, three bright-eyed, all-American girls daydreaming of what they’ll grow up to be some day. Alicia, 11, from New Mexico, is the oldest of the three. She aspires to own a home and a business one day. Jurnie is an 8-year-old from Nevada who loves to care for people and wants to become a nurse when she grows up. Savannah, also 8, lives in Kentucky. She adores animals and dreams of becoming a vet. Living thousands of miles apart, these girls may never cross paths, but their road to success has one detrimental obstacle in common: poverty.

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All three are from dwindling small towns in rural America, where, according to the latest Census report, one child out of four lives below the poverty line. Alicia is from a sleepy, poverty-stricken village, which counts a small convenience store among its only sources of income. Jurnie lives with her grandfather and younger sister in a low-income community of 800 some residents on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And in Savannah’s remote hometown more than a third of the population, including her own family, is poor.

The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to historic highs. Bearing the brunt of this crisis are 16 million kids, the highest number since the War on Poverty began in the early 1960s. This means that more families than ever are scrambling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. For children like Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, growing up poor in America means having your dreams, however humble, stolen from you.

Like most children living in poverty, the three girls are falling behind educationally. When she started fifth grade, Alicia was reading at the level of a second-grader. Jurnie comes from a financially struggling, unstable home environment and often has to endure long stretches of time without seeing her parents. This lack of stability and support has led to frequently missed school days and poor performance in class. While eager to learn, Savannah scored poorly on reading assessment tests and her school didn’t have the resources to provide her the extra help she needed to work through the challenges and succeed.

Kids who aren't learning and advancing in school are likely to remain in poverty as adults. To protect America’s future and security in the face of historic childhood poverty rates, we must invest in our children. Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty through education and health programs designed to help kids in some of the poorest parts of the country overcome barriers that stand in the way of their dreams.

We helped Alicia, Jurnie, Savannah and thousands of other children who know all too well what it means to go without. After going through our education support programs, all three are now able to read at grade level and continue to make great strides toward academic and future success.

Learn more about child poverty in the United States and what Save the Children’s school-based programs are doing to help.

Photos courtesy Save the Children

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Grade-Schooler with These Books (ages 6-8)

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 31, 2012


This is the third post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Reading_by_level_age_6-8Latest findings by the American Educational Research Association reveal that a student who can’t read at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than his reading-proficient peers. Practice makes perfect, so help keep your child’s reading skills on track through regular reading sessions. Here is a list of 10 recommended books you can enjoy together:

  • Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Preschooler with These Books

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 27, 2012


This is the second post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Did you know that less than half of children under 5 Reading_by_level_age_3-5are read to every day by a family member? Ensure your little ones get their daily dose of reading with these 10 expert-recommended book selections:  

  • Best Friends by Charlotte Labaronne
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
  • Mine! Mine! Mine! by Shelly Becker
  • Sharing How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw
  • Sunshine & Storm by Elisabeth Jones
  • I Accept You as You Are! by David Parker
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  • I’m in Charge of Me! by David Parker
  • I Love it When You Smile by Sam McBratney
  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign. 

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Toddler with These Books

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 25, 2012

This is the first post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Reading to your children can start soon after birth. The simple act of reading aloud as you flip through picture books with your infant or toddler is a shared activity that not only helps create a closer bond between you, but also boosts your child’s language and cognitive development. Get your newborn bundles of joy off to an early reading start with these 10 picks:

  • Mine! A Backpack Baby Story by Miriam Cohen
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • I Went Walking by Sue Williams 
  • Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
  • Sail Away by Donald Crews
  • Nuts to You! By Lois Ehlert 
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury
  • Pots and Pans by Anne Rockwell
  • Jungle Walk by Nancy Tafuri

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign. 

A Decade after 9/11, Is Your State Prepared to Protect Children?

Kaleba_head shot Jen Kaleba, Director, Marketing and Communications

September 9, 2011

Westport, CT


On September 11, 2001, Donna Fowler was running her own in-home daycare in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In her care were eight children, several of whom had parents working at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. While children were playing, Donna answered the persistent ringing of her phone.

“Turn on the TV,” her friend gasped.

And like millions of Americans, Donna watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

She turned off the TV quickly, put on a composed face for the children, and turned the radio on in the background so she could keep tabs on the situation without alarming the kids.

And then a plane struck the Pentagon. Close to home and where one parent worked.

“I thought, oh my god, I have these eight little people in my care and what am I going to do with them if their parents don’t come back today?” Donna remembers. “I had absolutely no plans in place. They were talking about evacuation and I thought, ‘Where do I go? How would parents know where I was going?’ The feeling inside was of total dread not knowing if parents were going to come back and what I would do if they did not.”

The thing is, if you’d asked Donna the day before 9/11, she would have told you she thought she was prepared for an emergency.

“I knew that I had emergency numbers for children and I knew where their parents worked. I felt very comfortable up until that point,” she recalls. Then, reflecting on the irony, “I didn’t realize how unprepared I really was; how prepared I should have been.”

Javits_day_care_evacuation_use_0829_through_11_29 (2)Children are evacuated from a daycare outside the Javits Center in New York after the August 23, 2011 earthquake.    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Not only did Donna not have an adequate plan, but across the country, states didn’t require the plans in the first place. Today, those very requirements are outlined in Save the Children’s just-released fourth annual National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters.

In it, we look at all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see what states have adopted four very basic standards of preparedness for kids in child care and schools—basics like evacuation and relocation plans, or plans to reunite kids with their families. Today, only 17 states meet all four requirements.

You can read about the standards here, check out how your state stacks up, and download our “School & Child Care Check List” that you can take to your kid’s caregivers or school administrators and ask, “Do you have a plan?”

As for Donna, her life changed on 9/11. After the children were reunited with their families (the father who was supposed to be at the Pentagon forgot some papers at his house and was late to work; it took the mother on Capitol Hill 20 hours to get back to her daughter) Donna swore to herself that she would never let another child care worker feel the way she felt that day.

She became a staunch advocate for disaster preparedness for child care facilities, testifying before the Maryland legislature on behalf of Save the Children to get our standards passed. Today she is the Vice President of the National Association for Family Child Care, pushing for Maryland to go even further in its readiness to keep kids safe during disasters.

More than 67 million children spend approximately 2,000 hours in schools and child care every year. Let’s work together, with people like Donna and you, to make sure more states get an A+ next year.