Begin with the First Step

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Begin with the First Step

Last week, I called an old friend of mine, who’s also my son’s Godmother. She’s a hardworking woman who’s been in the trenches of teaching since graduating college. She jumped right in working in the inner cities of Baltimore. Over the years, she has become tired, tired of the uphill battle that she seems to be facing as time goes on. The younger children are falling farther behind and the older children are just plain giving up. Parents aren’t helpful either and many leave it up to the teachers to do all of the educating.

The conversation lasted over two hours, but somewhere in the middle I asked her…

What do you think would help teachers succeed in class?
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Where do we begin? Her response… “If all of the children could read.”

As heartbreaking as it is, so many children in this country cannot read. Sadly, in some areas, there is only one book to every 300 homes! Can you imagine living in a home with no books, no reading material of any kind, except maybe a gossip magazine? Can you imagine wanting to come home from school and read something, anything, but there’s literally nothing to read.

As much as we talk about fast food restaurants in low income areas, we rarely talk about the low number of libraries in those same regions. If you have multiple children and no car, how likely are you to brave that trip?

As a mother to three young ones, one who reads way above his grade level, another learning to read (and who loves to “read”), and a third who flips pages through books all the time, even I think going to the library is a struggle. In an age where we have story time, toddler areas and interactive computers, there’s still a push to stay QUIET. Picking out a book for a toddler can be such fun, yet trying to keep them quiet is another chore… then you have two who want to run in different directions to see what the library has for them!

Let’s just say, I don’t find the library a family friendly place. If I make sure my library trips are cut down to less than 10 minutes, pre-planning the books we’re going to get, strapping the kids in the stroller as to not disrupt other readers, how many people who have to get their kids on a bus do you think will be willing to make that trek?

What about after a long 10 hour day at work (including commute)?

I’m not making excuses, I’m trying to show compassion, understanding and a possible solution.

It got me thinking. What can I do to change this? As I mentioned last week, I’m part of National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Each year, they host an annual Community Baby Shower where they inform new mothers of what’s to come and provide them with some of the essentials, like diapers and car seats. (If you’d just like to donate to this cause, shoot me an email spiritedlife {at} gmail.com).

Then I had an idea… a doable idea… a place to begin… a small piece that I hope will make a huge impact.

I would like to collect 500 books for the mothers (families) who attend this baby shower!

On average, we get between 100 and 200 mothers since the beginning of the shower, and we have not outfitted them with baby books or any books, but I’d like to change that this year. I would like to send every mother home with 3-5 books apiece.

Would you like to help?

I’m looking for new and gently used books for ages newborn through young adult. Often the siblings and relatives also do not have books, thus the littlest one can feel out of place being the only one reading. Think how we treat Christmas gifts! We don’t only give to the one child!

I will personally be collecting books in the Palm Beach, FL and the Baltimore, MD areas. If you’d like to help me collect books in your area, I can work to help you get them into the hands of those youth in need!

Thank you to Lisa from The Golden Spoons, who challenged myself and other bloggers at the start of 2015 to The 1 Word Challenge.  This weeks words were: Begin, Surprise, Forever.unnamed

This post was inspired by a message on Lioness Arising entitled Dangerous and Fully Awake by Lisa Bevere and part of my personal “Be Uncomfortable” challenge.

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