As a group, we went through a long process of coming up with an idea on how to help our community while improving the public education system at the same time. After brainstorming and bringing our ideas together, we decided we wanted to encourage more students to read throughout the summer break. The task began with making connections with staff members at Roosevelt High. Fortunately, one of our team members had already made a connection while working at Roosevelt High in the School Writing Center. One of our team members met with Betsy, the librarian at Roosevelt, to find out how to get students involved and engaged in the program. She suggested a pizza party to hold during one of the school days and offered to set out a sign-up sheet in the library.
Our goal was to give ninth and tenth grade students a work of popular young adult fiction to read at their leisure during the summer so they could return in the fall and have a reading club to discuss their thoughts and opinions. After discussing options for a quality book to find for the students, we decided to use a book from Matt de la Pena, New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal winning author of six young adult novels including The Living, an adventure/survivalist tale incorporating themes of racial identity and class and the skewed balance of power.
We started with an online fundraiser via GoFundMe.com to spread awareness through social media to raise enough money to buy 25 new books. We decided to make our goal $350, to ensure that we had enough funds to provide all the resources we needed for a successful event. We recognize that many schools in the Portland area are in need of extra resources we wanted to work with a diverse population at one of our community partner sites. By creating a summer reading program we hope to bring a community of diverse students together to create strong relationships. While recognizing the importance of reading and the enrichment it can bring to students’ minds, we needed to find a way to encourage students to read for fun. We hoped to encourage by bringing in a new and exciting book that students would be more motivated to read on their own.
By having this party we hope to bring the joy of reading back into these student’s lives. Our vision is that these students will continue to find books that interest them and maintain those diverse relationships with students in their community. After the ice cream social in the fall, we hope that students will lead this program themselves in the future.