Limited access to books is a problem for all young children, but for those in low-income areas, it may be tantamount to reading failure.” — Susan Neuman, author of Changing the Odds for Children at Risk
The book fair comes to our school twice every year. Classes go together to view the selection of books. Students create a wish list to send home to their parents. Parents send the kids back into school with money. After all, we all want to encourage them to read.
Then, throughout the week, kids will go back and forth to the book fair buying up books from their lists. They come back to the classroom with big smiles on their faces and bags of books in their hands — all of them except for the child whose family doesn’t have the money to buy a book.
That child is sitting in his class with his heart slightly broken. He knows why he can’t buy a book, but does he really understand? Every day when the teacher sends kids down to buy their books, he is further reminded that he’s not going to get one.
His excited classmates want to talk about their new books. They ask him why he didn’t get any. What’s the child to do? His classmates are too young to understand. They don’t know their excitement may be making him upset. It’s not fair!
These are the thoughts that can keep me up at night. Life can be cruel for a child. I didn’t want any of my son’s classmates to feel that way. So last year, I sent in a note and some money in an envelope to my son’s teacher.
I explained to her that if it seemed some children were not going to be able to buy a book, she should give them some of this money so they could. I did not want the names of the children. I simply wanted to spare any child the pain of being left out and I wanted them to be able to have their own books so they too could be excited for reading.
I did not tell my son what I was doing. He will have other opportunities to see our values in place and this was not a situation I wanted him talking about in school.
This year, I am continuing the tradition with two boys in school. I ask that if you can, you start this little tradition for your child’s classmates at the next opportunity.
There will be no awards, no certificates of appreciation, and no pats on the back. But there will be one more kid smiling in your child’s class, one more parent who will feel blessed, and your heart will be touched knowing you made it happen.
Jennifer Auer is a South Jersey mom of three. This post is adapted from her blog, Jersey Family Fun.