Books are a wonderful thing. They open minds, build bridges, and create entirely new worlds for children and adults alike to explore. Acclaimed author Philip Pullman went so far as to write that “after nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world” — and for many youth across the globe, those sentiments ring true, whether they live in a small makeshift shelter in Haiti or in a one bedroom apartment in New York City.
Unfortunately, not all of these children are able to afford or have access to a wide selection of novels and picture books due to regional or financial circumstance. One of Random Acts’ supporters, Washington resident Jenessa Boothby, wanted to change that.
Jenessa wrote to us back in September of last year about a nearby school that she felt needed an extra dose of kindness:
“We live on an Army base, and right outside of the gate is a very impoverished town,” she said. “It’s extremely run down and there is a substantial homeless population. [Only] 62 percent of the students at the town’s local elementary school had met the state requirements for reading last year — I’m not familiar with the rest of the state but [was] positive that that number [could] be better.”
The National Education Asociation (NEA) has reported that students who read or are read to at home tend to be stronger in school and have higher overall test scores in multiple subjects. Unfortunately, the NEA has also pointed out that “children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to … everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.”
In order to help such students succeed, Jenessa requested funding to purchase a variety of books to gift to the first and second grade children, hoping that it would compel them to want to want to read more, given their exciting new collection. After wrapping the books in colorful tissue paper, she delivered the 79 titles in person.
“The school hasn’t been updated since the ’70s and there are many, many students in each classroom,” she wrote afterward. “Luckily, I was able to buy some extra books to leave in the classrooms for free reading time as well. The students were so surprised and excited to see the gifts waiting at their desks, and the teachers were very thankful.”
Jenessa also reported that the teachers decided to use the experience to teach the kids about kindness in their community. Thanks to her hard work and caring eye, the children of at least one local elementary school will be fully prepared to start in on some amazing new stories tonight while hiding under their bed covers with a flashlight — and that’s one thing we can all smile about.