If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard me mention Reading Partners a couple (of hundred) times because I think it’s such a great organization (learn more about it here
). They pair volunteers with students who are reading significantly below grade level for two hours a week to follow a super easy curriculum. This is my fifth year tutoring, and not only is it a lot of fun, it achieves real results.
In fact, I’ve been on cloud nine this week because my fifth grade student had her midyear testing on Monday, and she went up over a grade and a half! That’s a huge improvement in just three and a half months. She’s almost at grade level now, and I’m so, so, so proud of her!
As Christmas approached this year, several things came together to spark an idea.
1. Sometimes when I mention Reading Partners on Facebook, friends who live in areas without RP comment that they wish they had one so they could volunteer too.
2. One of the cool things RP does is called Take Reading Home. When the kids start, they are given a book to keep, and once they read it and bring back a completed worksheet about the book, they get to take home another book. This helps them build a home library, which improves their reading skills.
3. My siblings use Amazon wish lists to direct the rest of the family on proper gift items, so I’d been perusing them to decide what to get my sibs.
Anyway, I noticed it was getting to be pretty slim pickings in the Take Reading Home library - like the leftover books no one bought back in the 70s or something - and I figured my friends who wanted to volunteer might donate books instead, but how could I make it easy?
Boom!! That’s when it hit me! So I created an Amazon wish list
with some of the books the students enjoy the most, and then I posted the link to Facebook and Twitter and hoped for the best.
Two days later, three packages of books arrived at my house. I’m not gonna lie, I totally cried. And the packages kept coming over the next month! Since it was right before Christmas, there were often multiple deliveries per day. I’m sure the UPS drivers hated me, but it was so worth it. Opening all of those beautiful, beautiful boxes of books was like having Christmas for several weeks straight.
One of my friends even shared the link on her own FB page, and HER friends sent me books. Y’all, complete strangers sent me books to give to kids, which is too awesome!
When I started this adventure, I figured I’d get about twenty books. And I would have been thrilled with that. Instead I got … are you ready for it … because it’s pretty amazing … a grand total of 95 books!! Yes, 95!!! 95 books that low-income kids get to take home and call their very own. Books that will help them become better readers and improve their lives in so many ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sandra, Anne, Laura, Jenn, Rebecca, the Glazer family, Jill, Uyen & VW, the Brokes family, Joanna, Lisa, Nikki, Nadine, and an anonymous donor for helping me with this project. I am blown away by your generosity and so very grateful!
My local chapter of Reading Partners is also very excited by this. They have asked me to put together an article explaining what I did including step-by-step instructions for creating a wish list so that the national office can share it with all their volunteers. Can you imagine how many kids will be helped if other volunteers have similar success? Although I know none of them will be as successful as me because I have the best friends. The very best. (said in my Donald Trump voice).
I wanted a fun way to say thank you, so I decided to spell out THANK YOU! with all the books you donated. And there were so many books that there were some left over to kinda sorta make a smiley face!
It looks a little lopsided because when it was done it was so big that even standing on the very top of the ladder I couldn't fit it into the camera frame. Instead I had to use the pano feature, which is tough to keep straight while standing on a wobbly ladder.
This is me testing things out and realizing there might possibly be a sizing challenge.
Here I am trying to take the picture with my arms stretched as high as they'll go and my dad trying to make sure I didn't fall off the ladder and die. You can see how successful I was at aiming when I couldn't see anything.
Me trying to be cool as I say "Thank you!"
Me trying waaaay too hard to be cool as I say "Thank you!"
And here are a few pics to give you an idea of what 95 books looks like.
These are the books sorted into piles of similar books. The National Geographic for Kids was the most popular with Dr. Seuss and Amelia Bedelia as the runners up.
Boxes of books waiting to be unpacked in the Reading Partners trailer.
Another view of boxes of books in the Reading Partners trailer.
But as much fun as those pictures are, this one is by far the best ...
This is my second grade student, who was so excited about the new books that it was tough to get her to go back to class. And I hope the look on her face says "thank you!" better than my words ever could.
The kids always need new books, so if you still want to donate, I'm going to leave my wish list up all year - click here to see it
- a person's double chin; excess skin and fat under the chin; literally a "little cheek" beneath the chin.
1/24 - The buccula that jiggles when he talks is not as disgusting as the words coming out of his mouth, but both make me want to punch him.
Is Reading Partners in your area? Have you volunteered with a literacy group? Does my student's happy face make you smile? Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?