RWD POV: Overcoming a New Kind of Challenge
Updated: Oct 2
Greetings, my name is Beatriz Sanchez and I am the Family Learning Center Coordinator at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch of the San Jose Public Library. In the past three years, we have been very fortunate with hosting Read Write Discover (RWD) - a program dedicated to providing services and resources aimed at building skills and competencies that favor the development of our community. Each year, RWD presents engaging opportunities for youth to participate in during the summer. High school volunteers dedicate their time and contribute their skills by helping young children build and learn literacy skills in reading and writing. However, this year was totally different!
This year presented everyone with many challenges due to the circumstances of the pandemic, forcing many industries and educational institutions to go virtual. Educators, students, and parents are now feeling the effects of distance learning and are continuously looking for creative ways to optimize children’s learning experiences. However, this year also presented opportunities to thrive.
Read Write Discover helped support learners, parents, and educators through this transition of uncertainty in several ways. The teen-led program helped learners build transliteracy skills - allowing them to develop the ability to read, write and collaborate across a range of platforms, tools and media. In addition to building reading and writing skills, children learned how to navigate digital platforms, such as Zoom and Google Classroom. Children also learned how to use a variety of digital devices, how to download and view file formats such as PDFs, and how to use software applications such as Microsoft Word.
Each year, the program recruits high school volunteers to engage in our society and contribute to their community. Through this program, high school volunteers build and demonstrate leadership skills, and gain experience in program/curriculum planning. High school volunteers also participate in several areas of contribution to human development such as digital inclusion - by providing opportunities for children to learn and enhance digital skills that will help them increase their outcomes in education, and increase proficiency in skills that will help them prepare for college and careers as they get older, and social capital - by providing opportunities for children to participate in programs that combat social isolation, and build a stronger and more unified society.
This year, the dedicated teens connected with learners and developed a fun learning atmosphere, where children felt safe and were thrilled to meet with their tutors during each session! The teens set the bar high and served as positive role models for the learners. They also contributed to building a stronger community, supporting educators by helping combat the achievement gap as well as expanding educational opportunities in communities with large disparities. They also inspired learners and their guardians to become more academically engaged.
I highly recommend Read Write Discover. It has truly proven to be effective in helping children with literacy skills, but it has also helped children gain pride in their newfound knowledge and abilities. The program has also demonstrated that children are capable of learning through a variety of platforms, and has allowed them to discover talents and skills that will help them navigate throughout their lives. This program supports parents and educators as they strive to find educational opportunities that will help their children reach academic achievement, and it engages teens in community participation that allows them to contribute to the well-being of our society. Everyone benefits from Read Write Discover!
We’re All Wonders
By R.J. Palacio
This is the story about a boy who recognizes that he is not an ordinary kid, but loves to do the things all children love to do! He rides his bike. He eats ice cream. He plays ball, and he especially loves playing with his dog, Daisy, but he doesn’t look like other children. He looks different. His mother says he’s unique and that he is a wonder, but some people don't see that. People often stare and laugh at him, and say mean things that hurt his feelings. But when this happens, he likes to let his imagination take him to space where he and Daisy wear their space helmets and blast off to Pluto. Nobody judges him there, not even the local aliens who welcome him. In space, the Earth with all kinds of people, different people, appears so small that you can't see anyone. He knows that he can’t change the way he looks, but he is hopeful that perhaps someday people can change the way they see. And only then, they will see that we're all wonders!
This is a story inspired by the characters of R.J. Palacio’s novel Wonder. This picture book outlines the main idea of Wonder, and can be used in a classroom to teach children about kindness and differences. Students can brainstorm words to describe "What is different about the boy?" prior to reading the book, with follow up questions such as “Have you ever felt different?” This book is an excellent choice to add to a book display promoting inclusion and acceptance. The illustrations are visually stunning and will definitely hold the attention of young readers. This is a AD370L Lexile Level book and is ideal for children ages 4-8.