Reading Into Childhood Empowerment: (A Social Equity PIC Project By Ally, Laura, Savannah, and Gabrielle)

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Social inequity impacts students and their ability to learn in a variety of ways. Obstacles outside of their control often provide roadblocks to their learning, such as poverty, hunger, or even lack of access to books. Our social justice project for this term was one of realistic proportions: donate books to the community and bring awareness to the ways in which students’ learning can be increased with more access to free knowledge.

Please watch video hereto find about more how we supported local students receiving access to free reading materials.

Poverty is more than just insufficient housing and food. Hunger, clothing, immigration policy, and most importantly education are all affected by poverty. Nearly 17% of Oregonians live in poverty, and a recent study found that 23% of Portland’s children are living within poverty. That is saying that 23 % of children are not getting the proper access to essentials in life and especially books. 61 % of low-income families do not have any books at all in their homes for their children. Reading is the single most important skill a child needs to learn for their educational success.

Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice, and according to the National Education Association, having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components to becoming a good reader. The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading and math scores. Reading is essential to learning, and by cutting access to resources for our students -particularly our youngest- to be able to grow and prosper, only negatively impacts their path toward academic success.

Making large-scale change requires small actions by many, therefore our small change is providing students to more reading resources in a three-step approach. First was a social media campaign, creating an easily spreadable image discussing the power of reading for students’ later success. One of our group members created an image, and posted it in areas within her community, calling her community members to action this season to donate books to students in need. For individuals who may not have the resources to donate, spreading awareness is crucial to these students achieving more knowledge.

Our next step included donating books to a local Portland Metro area library. One of our group members, Laura, filmed the donation to her local library in Lake Oswego. Purchasing books from a nearby thrift store and taking them to her local library that accepts donations, Laura’s donation showcases how keeping books free for student use allows for greater access to education and knowledge.

If your local library does not accept donations of gently used books, the Children’s Book Bank is a fantastic local non-profit in the Portland Metro Area that promotes children’s access to literacy.  You can take your donations to their downtown location, or you can check their website regarding hosting your own book drive to raise awareness for children’s literacy in your neighborhood.

With your efforts, we can make a difference not only in empowering students in their access to knowledge, but also in helping local neighborhoods provide free resources for Portland students!

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