When I asked the directors of our She’s the First partner schools which books their students liked to read, I had no idea that I’d find myself saying, “That was my favorite book! I remember that one . . . and that one too!” I never would’ve guessed that young students in Nepal and Kenya love Charlotte’s Web or Ella Enchanted as much as I did in elementary school. What I wasn’t surprised by was the students’ absolute love of reading.
At the Kibera School for Girls in Kenya, all students have time set aside everyday for reading. Girls in 1st-3rd grade enjoy daily reading time in either the classroom or in the library. The students also take turns reading aloud to the entire class. Some of their favorites are the Amelia Bedelia series and Frog and Toad. The pre-K and Kindergarten students love to listen to their teachers read Miss Wishy Washy and Elmo books. They also have plenty of time to practice their reading and look through colorful picture books.
Libby Doyne and Kopila Valley’s English teacher wrote that their students “can often be seen with their noses in a book at recess!” Even though the students read at the library everyday, they can’t get enough of their new favorite book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Their teacher said, “They even yell out to read faster when time is running out because they want to find out what happens before the bell rings.” Some of the students even take the book home to read it again and again. A few times a year, older students help teach their younger reading buddy.
These stories reminded me of Dr. Seuss’ quip, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!” In writing this post, I was amazed to learn just how far my favorite childhood stories have traveled. Years ago, my friends and I used to giggle over Shel Silverstein’s silly poem “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too.” Now, girls in Nepal are pouring through this same book, maybe even smiling over the same lines I did. The joy that I found, and that you found too, in learning to read is the joy that our young generation of girls is discovering right now. From the lines of #VoiceYourVerse poetry to a poem nestled in the well-worn pages of Where the Sidewalk Ends, you, me, and young girls thousands of miles away are united by the joy of learning.