“I’ve never seen the White House in real life,” my student said as we read her favorite book, Grace for President. As only children can, she candidly continued without prompt. “We don’t have money, and only rich people can go to the White House.” She turned the page without skipping a beat.
Meanwhile, I had to catch my breath before I could continue reading. As the coordinator of a literacy center, I knew that I would be working with students 1 month to 2.5 years behind grade level. I knew that I would bolster the confidence levels of students who believed that they could never read. Being faced with students who have internalized limitations due to intersecting societal oppressions was far more than I expected.
I had to do something. Not even a second passed before I thought—“Wait…who do you think you are?”
According to 2015 data provided by the National Kids Count, 73% of fourth graders in Washington D.C. were considered below proficiency in reading. Kids Count goes on to detail that, “beginning in fourth grade, children use reading to learn other subjects, and therefore, mastery of reading becomes a critical component in their ability to keep up academically.”
Who do I think I am?
Across DC, over one in four children under the age of 18 lived in poverty. Surely, visiting the Washington Monument is not on the top of a to-do list for a parent who is working two jobs on minimum wage. The ability to afford paid tutoring for your children is unheard of when you are struggling to put food on the table.
Who do I think I am?
I am a person who believes that education creates worlds unimagined. I am a traveler who can attest that the more you see of the world—the more you can take ownership of your space within it. I am a creator who believes that the establishment of dynamic learning experiences is not the sole responsibility of parents and teachers. I am a dreamer who dreamed of Booked Kids.
Booked Kids will enable children ages 5-11 to discover new possibilities by designing educational trips within their community. The possibilities are magnified when parents are coached to lead their children through grade-appropriate reading activities at a specified time during the trip. By pairing reading with dynamic learning experiences, children are encouraged to become lifelong readers.
Will all students in the Washington D.C. metro area read on grade level by next year? I can’t say. I can say that as we engage parents, encourage residents to become involved in their communities, design unique experiences for students, and support classroom learning—we will change lives. At the very least, if I can take just one student on just one trip, and if that one student excitedly tells me, “I want to read more about this!”—that will be all the fuel I need to keep traveling along this journey.
Keep up with the Growth of Booked Kids by following this blog!
Support the launch of Booked Kids on GoFundMe
Questions, Comments, Suggestions? Please drop a note on this post!