Since the founding of our chapter about 20 years ago, Assistance League of Northern Virginia has recognized how critical reading proficiency is for a child’s academic achievement. Our Literacy for Kids Program, therefore, takes a two-track approach to help students develop strong reading comprehension skills. We provide one-on-one reading tutoring at several schools each week and we also donate new books to students at a selected school. Twice this month, we held book fairs that we call Build-a-Child’s Library where every student can select a book on a topic that interests them. They also write their names in the book as ‘proof’ it is theirs to keep. We know our book fairs have a significant impact on children’s lives. One school administrator noted that many students do not have books in their homes.
At those two events, we delivered brand new books, each with a bookmark, to about 1000 very appreciative students. Each event had magic moments for both the students and our members, and each had one particularly memorable story. At one school, a first grader was so exuberant to select his very own book that he exclaimed it was his BEST DAY EVER! At the other school, a sixth-grade student, aptly named Angel, selected her book, Forget Me Nat, and wrote her name in the book. Afterwards, she asked our members to sign her book also, so she would not forget us. That thoughtful gesture touched all our members in ways we won’t soon forget.
The palpable joy and elation the students exhibited was infectious and made it a great day for our members. It was instant gratification – for the kids to have a new book and for our members to see that joy. We sincerely hope that these new books will instill a love of reading and learning. That’s why we do it.