Our Mission


Be the Drop in a Child's Bucket
Fill them up with words
Beverly Logas Koopman

Literacy is the key to future school success, which eventually leads to future employment opportunities.  It is our mission to create cultures of literacy in our poorest families' homes.  The approach is two-pronged: get books into the hands of children, and inform both the children and their parents about the importance of literacy.

Bit by bit, like drops filling a bucket, we make a difference*.  That difference can be profound for someone's future.


The Motivation

Sometimes reading is informative, and sometimes it is compelling.  Over the past few years, I've been reading about literacy and the factors that lead to discrepancies in student achievement.  I've read the research one too many times to sit quietly and simply take in the information.  Too many students struggle.  They work hard, but  many still struggle.  The problems?  According to the research, it starts early, even years before children enter school.  When parents are not fluent, or when they are burdened with the chaos poverty creates, their little ones are not read to.  Often they are not even talked to as much as families with more resources.  By time they enter kindergarten, some children have been exposed to tens of millions fewer words than their peers. They enter school behind.

None of us enjoys doing that which is difficult.  Once in school, these children become what we euphemistically refer to as "reluctant readers."  They avoid reading at school, and do not do it at home.  It's hard.  They are no different than the rest of us, avoiding what is difficult.  Compound that with the reality that many do not even have books in their homes. Families that are struggling amidst the chaos that poverty creates are unlikely to take leisurely trips to the public library. 

The research, my own experiences as a teacher, and my personal background converged.  I could be silent no longer.  I was compelled to do something knowing that if the gaps in learning opportunities are to be reduced, children must be inoculated with words.  Cultures of literacy must be promoted in the homes of our most at-risk students, and one key to making this happen is to get books into these families' homes.  Another need is to make parents aware of the tremendous role that literacy plays in the future success of their children.  All parents want what is best for their children.  Some parents simply do not have access to the books, the awareness, or both.

Families that cannot afford food are unlikely to purchase books for their children.  So my daughters and I began to banter about ideas...if books were freely distributed though the local food shelf, more books would get into the hands of our children who are most at risk for future school problems.  If a sticker were placed inside the books citing research, at least a percentage of care-givers would get the message about the importance of reading.  Additional parent information could be disseminated at the distribution point via simple, eye-catching signs and brochures.  We'd already successfully distributed books at a homeless shelter.  My oldest daughter had already set up a successful program, funded by grants and donations to help the homeless, including setting up libraries at adolescent homeless shelters...certainly we could create a sustainable program in our backyard.

Armed with research, a belief that we are each stewards of our corner of the world, and an idea that appeared doable, we were compelled to act.  Soon others joined the mission.  




The program was named "Read to Feed the Mind," since words are to a growing child's mind as food is to her growing body.



Our goals:
Encourage children to read by providing access to books.  
Educate parents about the power of literacy.  
Target families who need the most support.
Spread the word about children, poverty, literacy and access to books..


Our Beliefs:
Every child had the right to read.
Every child has the right to access print.
Every child will improve their reading by reading widely.
Literacy is necessary for economic survival in the 21st Century.







*Visit the umbrella organization for "Feed the Mind," at "Just a Drop."   There you will find other ways to help alleviate some of the obstacles, problems and chaos that those who are homeless face, often on an hour by hour basis. 

Visits


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Bev Koopman,
Dec 30, 2009, 8:40 AM
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