Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reading Rocks

Earlier this spring, four members of Girl Scout Junior Troop 805 in Chesapeake set out on a mission to make an impact on literacy rates in their community. The two fourth graders, Kiersten and Zoe, and two fifth graders, Kailie and Elizabeth, brainstormed ways that they could give children access to books all summer long. During the planning process, Zoe’s mother Stephanie Martin, who volunteers with the troop, shared with the girls about the population of children she worked with when she was a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in South Norfolk. After learning about the lack of resources faced by many of her students, the members of Troop 805 came up with a solution and their project, Reading Rocks, was born.
Zoe, Kiersten, Kailie and Elizabeth 
The girls got to work right away contacting libraries, local businesses and friends seeking donations of new and gently used books. After a generous response, the girls had enough books to distribute at least five to every kindergartner and first grader at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. Each of the four Girl Scouts also made 50 file folder games so that each student could have fun and educational activities to occupy some of their time over the summer. The Girl Scouts had Reading Rocks backpacks made for each student to carry their new books and games in and also gave some crayons to each student.

On May 23, the Girl Scouts loaded up their mothers’ cars with the backpacks and made their way to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. It was just after school, and the girls made a presentation to all of the kindergarten and first grade teachers to explain their project and leave all of their backpacks to be distributed before the end of the year. The teachers applauded the work of the Girl Scouts and thanked them for their efforts. Giving students their own books to read over the summer can make a big impact on the literacy skills they retain from the school year.

“The most challenging part of the project was making all of the file folder games because it was time consuming,” Kiersten said. “But it was an important part of the project because they will help the students practice important skills like vowel sounds and contractions.”

Each of the four Girl Scouts put in nearly 40 hours each to complete the project. For their work, the girls will earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.