Lit. Heroes – Stepping Up On My Soap Box

A non-running related post. Because it’s something that I think is important.

When I was first looking for a job after my husband and I moved down here, I got involved in a volunteer program through the local library called Literacy Heroes. Volunteers were trained on active reading, and connecting kids to books that were being read to them. The coordinator for the program contacted local schools and organizations and sent us out in to the community to do something so simple, yet so vital – read to children.

Often these were kids who were struggling in school, who had no desire to read on their own, or who had never really been connected to a book.

Growing up I used to love to be read to. My mother would sit with my brother and I every night and read us stories. Often we would pick the same books, which I’m sure would just drive her crazy since we had dozens to choose from. I remember being curled up in the corner of my brother’s room, me on one side of our mother, and brother on the other side, listening to her read “The Cat in the Hat” or “Boom Chicka Boom Boom” or “Little Bear”. I can’t imagine not having that experience. Not having someone there to read to us. Or eventually, not wanting to read.

But that is the life of some of the kids we worked with.

I digress. The reason I am expounding upon this is this: Today, as I finally opened an e-mail account that I don’t often open, I received a message that the library was no longer able to sustain this program. That the training and tracking and finding volunteer opportunities were now outside of the realm of what the library can afford.

We live in a society where we fund prisons and wars. We throw money into politics and business.

But we don’t place value on education. Or if we do, we’ve got a funny way of showing it. We gut programs that could help others. Take funding away from music and art. We test and we test and we test, but we take creativity from the classroom.

We begin to ignore those who fall behind.

Literacy Heroes was one of those programs that focused on the ones who fall through the cracks. It focused on making reading fun and bringing books to life. It gave attention to those who often get none. To hear that it’s gone is most definitely a blow. It’s a shame to see opportunities like this disappear.

Maybe some day we will realize what is important – what is worth putting money in to.

For now I will step down off my soap box, and be grateful that I was able to be a part of this program while it existed. I got to spend time with children who sometimes just wanted someone to pay attention to them, and I got to do so while reading really awesome and fun books to them.

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