Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A push for reading

In my adult life reading has been a source of comfort, education, entertainment, and accomplishment for me. I look to books to teach me a wide range of things about almost anything I want to know. Many times I have sought comfort in books by reading the stories, whether true or not, written in their pages. Each time I close a book for the final time I feel accomplished and view the book as a trophy of that.

In our culture reading is taken at great importance. Children often have a shelf of books in their room from birth and eagerly chose a new story for their parents to read each night at bedtime. I think we all can identify a few of our favorite childhood stories. Reading is a part of schooling from elementary school to college and most students do a lot of reading as part of their education. Some people find this reading to be enough, but many others take up reading as a leisure activity as well.

I did lots of leisure reading in college on top of my requirements for classes, but not nearly enough as I wanted to. I looked forward to the day where required readings would be in my past and I would get to choose everything I wanted to read for myself. I was looking forward to having time to read many books. Now as a Peace Corps volunteer I have that time and I enjoy reading more than ever.

I have found that the children of my small town in Morocco don’t share the same hobby. In their free time the kids of today like to be on the Web talking to their friends or play video games at Internet cafes. My new hope is to instill a love for reading into at least some of the youth in my town. I will be starting a new library program at my local youth center, encouraging kids to read. When I first came to this town I was struck by how many books were in the youth center and how I had never seen them touched. I thought that was a terrible thing. All those wonderful stories, stacked there collecting dust. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I will hold library time at the youth center from 6-8 where kids of any age can come in and read the books that are available there. There are many books in French and Arabic, for children and young adults. I am also trying to build up a small collection of children’s books in English for those learning the language.

I know that to get kids to read that never do I must offer some kind of incentive. So that’s why I have established the point system. For each hour of reading the child will earn one point. For 10 points earned they will get candy and cookies, for 20 points earned they will win a larger prize, and for 40 points earned -well I haven’t gotten that far yet. Also to encourage the kids to work together I am going to offer the incentive of throwing a small party at the youth center when 100 points collectively have been earned.

If reading is something that you also love and you believe it is important to a child’s growth and development you could be a big help to me. If you have any used children’s books that you no longer need you may mail them to me here in Morocco. I also could use small toys or prizes for children that could be picked up at the dollar store or even be kids meal toys. I am trying to build up a treasure box of prizes so the winners may choose something for reading. Any donations would be greatly appreciated!

My address in Morocco:

Alex Cash
B. P. 64
El Gara 26.300