Research shows that random acts of kindness can significantly improve a person’s physical and mental health. Being kind to others consistently gets easier the more you do it and over time this behavior may improve your mood, create happiness and alter your outlook on life.
We all might want to give a little more to this big, conflicted world of ours. The outcome could bring more personal happiness within ourselves and our families and offer people a chance to connect with each other more. Overall, acts of random kindness may just improve the state of affairs globally.
Why not start right here, in this nation, by donating a new or gently-used book to a child in need?
Did you know that 16 million children living in poverty in the United States currently lack access to new, high-quality books?
According to studies done by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), 61% of low-income families in our nation have no age-appropriate books in their homes. In 2015, only 36% of fourth-grade students in the United States performed at or above the Proficient level in reading. Furthermore, only one-third of all American students entering high school are able to read at the recommended level.
Yikes! If this doesn’t cause you to yell, “Sign me up for the book donations!” I don’t know what does. After hearing these grim statistics, this book- privileged children’s author decided to do what she could.
In an effort to find the right children’s book charity that I could donate to, I did extensive research online. But quite honestly, this left me feeling puzzled. I was surprised at the considerable amount of children’s book charities that there actually are. If U.S. kids are being given books across the nation on a regular basis, why are the U.S. children’s literacy rates so low? Or are there just so many kids and not enough books to accommodate their needs? I set out on a mission to find out.
It wasn’t long before I uncovered what the problem is. Based on facts about children’s literacy in this nation, from The National Educational Association (NEA) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, “children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not.”
Bingo! There it is! So, It’s not so much that we just need more books, but we also need more parents/educators to read these books to them and teach the kids how to read the books themselves.… most of these unfortunate literacy statistics seemed to stem from problems connected to income levels and poverty.
Some of the facts I read in my research were pretty daunting and most of these unfortunate literacy statistics seemed to stem from problems connected to income levels and poverty. For instance; “Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud every day than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.”
That makes perfect sense and coincides with the current literacy rates in our nation. Unless there is a change in the cycle of illiteracy from parent to child, US families under the poverty level will continue to be illiterate through to the next generation. While these statistics are just based on averages, it’s still essential to keep in mind that the average child that lives in poverty just doesn’t have access to books because they’re household can’t afford them. Also, chances are, they attend a low-income school and the funding conditions for books are similar.
So, the emphasis here is on books and literacy programs for kids. Here’s the dilemma we’re faced with, without books, the literacy programs won’t happen and without the literacy programs, these kids won’t learn to read.
The good news is that studies show the more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service.
In theory, this could mean that even in low-income homes kids can still have a chance of learning to read if there are more reading materials made available to them in the home. In reality, unless they are inspired to read the books offered and even know how to read, these books have a better chance of getting read by the kids, if the books are first read to them.
To change the system, it takes human power. Random acts of human kindness power.
Not impossible, but first let’s start with getting the books to these kids. Pick a charity, any charity? Not so much. You have to be somewhat careful online these days when choosing a reputable children’s organization or charitable foundation. Sad but true, there are bad charities out there in cyber space and unless you do your research, you just might get had. Make sure to find a certified charity or book donation organization.You have to be careful online when choosing a children’s charitable foundation.
From an article that was written for the Huffington Post, I found a list of the best worldwide book charities for kids. Also, some more respectable groups and organizations that handle book donations can be found on the American Library Association website.
So, how do we get these donated books into literacy programs and vise versa?
I believe the organization called Reading Rockets describes our nation’s current child literacy initiative best; “Over the last 25 years, the federal government has made a concerted effort to find out why so many children struggle with learning to read. This research has yielded a rough consensus on the best ways to teach reading, and we now know much more about how to identify children at risk and how to intervene effectively. The challenge that remains is getting this research-based information out to educators, parents, and others who work with children.”
Well my fellow workers of children, now you know the facts. Next step…random acts of human kindness power!
If you can, get out into your community and help kids learn to read!
If you can, get out into your community and help kids learn to read! Join a literacy program by checking out your local schools, libraries and other children’s social and educational organizations. Here’s a link to a few literacy programs which are non-profit. Also, another link to more statewide programs for kids and their families.
The Federal government provides Discretionary Awards/Grants to support state-wide school library literacy programs. The intentions of the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program (IAL) is; “to support innovative programs that promote early literacy for young children, motivate older children to read, and increase student achievement by using school libraries as partners to improve literacy, distributing free books to children and their families, and offering high-quality literacy activities.” Again, there is only so much federal money to go around and even though the estimated available funds of each award is $24,341,646 (which lasts through the project period of up to 24 months) there are still a considerable amount of low-income American school libraries that need to compete for this.
According to the IAL, “Many schools and districts across the Nation do not have school libraries that deliver high-quality literacy programming to children and their families. Additionally, many schools do not have qualified library media specialists and library facilities. Where facilities do exist, they often lack adequate books and other materials and resources. In many communities, high-need children have limited access to appropriate age- and grade-level reading material in their homes.”
The last part of this statement resonates with me. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like not to have a book of my own. I have a whole bookcase of books. I create books. This alone motivates me to want to donate to these programs. If you can, try to donate a book too. Because without the book, a literacy program, well…you know the rest.
It’s amazing what a difference one book can make to a child. A lot of these programs are geared to families so they can learn to read together and pass each book on from generation to generation.
It’s amazing how one random act of kindness can bring such magic to others…one random act of reading!
On a global note, as of December 10, 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama. The International Literacy Association (ILA) which facilitates literacy connections around the world, has currently drafted an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) toolkit to help educators implement this new literacy program for schools in this nation.
Hopefully one day all the educational systems of the world will incorporate a similar program as ESSA. For now, there are global initiatives such as World Read Aloud Day and many non-profit organizations that raise awareness and funds for child literacy worldwide.