Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why read to kids on a pile of rocks in the shade of a thorn tree?

Our first reading site in Mamboze has been replaced!

That's where the kids are, of course!

But, wouldn't it be better to create a cozy space? Somewhere safe and clean? Somewhere with bright colors and mats? Somewhere the kids will gather to hear the stories and learn to read with caring adults?

Maybe. But right now, that place is far, far away from these kids. That place is almost unimaginable. That place is our dream. OUR dream. Not their dream.

We know what "can be" because we have seen it. We know that they will be less distracted and more able to concentrate in a space dedicated to their needs. We see their needs. They have not yet recognized them.

The same community now provides this space between houses.
So, rather than spend money on THAT space, we meet them in their own spaces. Sometimes that's in classrooms... that transform free, chatty children into blank-faced kids mindlessly repeating "right" answers. That is not our preference, but we take it if that is what is offered. We prefer to meet them in their play spaces... on the road... between houses... under a tree. We meet them in that patch of shade that the mamãs didn't claim for their chores or market baskets. We meet them in the semi-formal areas where communities generally gather - during the time "important" meetings are NOT taking place.

Not ideal. Not controllable. Not comfortable. But...

New reading group meets under a shady tree across town...

Mothers and fathers passing by see their children engaging in a healthy activity with a trusted adult. No one is taking them away to teach them. The community reader is modeling something right there... alongside the activity of daily life. Reading and sharing books becomes part of daily life. Teens and young adults see it. Some ask for a chance to read to the kids themselves.

Of course, that's part of the plan. Not that our readers will control the activities, but that they will model something that is easily duplicated... anywhere... and EVERYWHERE.

Still another group that meets at our reader's home miles away...
There are lots of reasons NOT to read with kids on the rock pile, but right now, the only reason TO read to them in that space is the most important. We can. Once we put the books in the box and close the door on the room, some will not come. A few always will... but for those that just meet us on the way to somewhere... those that can't schedule a time to go to the library... those whose parents haven't decided it can be worth it... yet... for those, we meet them with a book and a smile and a story - anywhere.
A new group meeting at a church during Sunday school time...

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