Read. Just Read.

Okay, the title is a riff on Cinderella’s/Drew Barrymore’s line in Ever After, but the concept is sort of the same: focus on something small and simple and giant issues and struggles can both be avoided and eliminated.

Thanks to Rev. Beth Buckwalter-Miller for sharing this Great Idea in The Valley Bridge from the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys.

Rev. Buckwalter-Miller encourages us to read – as simple as that – with immigrant and refugee young ones who are learning English, and with young people experiencing poverty who may or may not have ready access to books.

She shares important statices from the Children’s Reading Foundation about the links between reading at grade level by Grade 3, and implications for future learning, graduation rates, college and career readiness – and therefore poverty-cycle repetition.

That cycle can be interrupted or prevented from beginning simply by reading: 20 minutes a day is sufficient to turn a young person’s life toward greater hope, future learning abilities, and life-long self-sufficiency and autonomy.

Read her full article here for data and inspiration.

Then wonder how individuals and the congregation might engage:

  • facilitate after-school reading gathering for neighborhood children – throw in a snack and you’ll be set!
  • invite Youth to mentor and read to and with younger kids
  • create a children’s-book-only Little Free Library on your curb or an in-house Children’s Library
  • expand the impact by partnering with schools: you’ve got retired folx, they need volunteers!
  • double-down on justice by inviting the whole community to gather for reading banned books with children: let everyone know they are welcome in your building and in your community

Mostly, invite young people in or, better yet, go where they are (work with the schools, the libraries, other community centers or congregations, etc.!). Be sure adults are background checked and safe spaces trained. And read: just read!!