Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Daring to be Different with Literacy

Darla is an enthusiastic young woman who is already making a difference in her community. At age 10, she came up with an idea to promote literacy that has gone from strength to strength. Darla created Bookworm Wednesday, where she invited neighbourhood children to come to her house, borrow books, enjoy small incentives for reading them, and listen to a story being read aloud. The younger children are walked home at the end of the session.

Darla even applied to Empowering Youth for a grant to sponsor her project. I thought you might enjoy reading her proposal as much as I did:

August 6, 2007

Dear Kelly Curtis,
I would like to request a grant in the amount of $23.00 from Empowering Youth for “Book Worm Wednesday.” This will be used to purchase rewards such as (whatever Kara and I get). Check out and return will be weekly for ages 7-12, and monthly for ages 4-6. We have books in stock ready for use. We now need something for youth as a reward after reading a book to encourage young people to read more. I appreciate your consideration of this grant proposal.



Darla's mother, Kelly, is justly proud of her enterprising daughter. She says, "I can’t describe my satisfaction as I sit at my computer, with the activities of Bookworm Wednesday buzzing behind me in the “library”. Nor can I possibly explain the rush I feel as I witness the small mob of children running down our street as I pull into the drive."

Darla's initiative is set to be recognized. Now aged twelve, she's recently been named as a Youth Leader for Literacy by the National Education Association and Youth Service America. Her literacy promotion project is one of only twenty-five selected in the USA. She'll be sharing tips to encourage youngsters to establish Bookworm Wednesday clubs in their own neighbourhoods.

When I asked Darla recently what advice she'd have for other kids who'd like to start Bookworm Wednesday in their own communities, she said, "The best advice I can give is to recruit friends. Every Wednesday I get to know them better, and they are an absolute necessity to running Bookworm Wednesday. Adding friends gives Bookworm Wednesday a life. If I moved away, the neighborhood knows my friends and they could continue the project.

"It's equally important to not be afraid to ask for help. You are a kid doing what some might call an "adult" project, so ask for help! Any supportive adult is great. For me, the perfect fit was my mom, but yours could be a grandparent, an aunt, a librarian, a neighbor. The possibilities are endless. Last but not least, remember to thank your friends and supporters every day. They work hard, and they definitely deserve it."

You can follow Darla's progress on Pass the Torch blog.

How wonderful to hear of young people conducting literacy-related activities that benefit others! If you know of any other such projects, please use the comments to share them with us.

Book Chook Reminder: Don't forget to visit the Share a Story - Shape a Future blog to keep up-to-date with THE Blog Literacy event of 2009!

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