The Gold Award is the highest award achieved within the Girl Scouts of the USA, earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts, which I earned March 2022.
Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are significant to them and create lasting change in their communities.
I chose Literacy Awareness as my Gold Award take action project because early childhood reading and literacy is close to my heart. When I was in 3rd grade, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, and although I loved to read, I found it challenging. When researching literacy information for my Silver Award, I learned about the importance of being able to read well at an early age, the implications of being illiterate and just how many children don't have books or have access to books.
Furthermore, in middle-income neighborhoods there are 13 books per each child, but in low-income neighborhoods there is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Up to 61% of low-income families do not have any books at all in their homes for their kids.
Through my book drive (click for photos) I had in January 2022, and books received before I stared my Gold Award, I've collected and donated over 4,400 books!
Click here for book donation photos.
Combined with the books from my Silver Award and 8th grade service project, I am proud to say that I have now gotten about 11,500 books into the hands of children who need them.
To keep my project going, please refer students and parents to my website, and see the "How to Help" tab.
Please see the "Beginnings" tab to learn where my passion started and why I'm continuing my effort to bring awareness to literacy.
At the beginning of 2017, when I was in 6th grade at Liberty Middle School, I started working towards my Silver Award in Girl Scouts. I knew that there were many underperforming schools in Hillsborough County and I wanted to make a long lasting impact in my community and help children. When I was in 3rd grade, I was diagnosed with a reading disability, so literacy was at the top of ways I could give back, and I began promoting literacy and getting books into the hands of children who didn't have them.
Did you know: students who don't read skillfully by 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school?; the inability to read is linked to poor outcomes as a teen and adult, such as dropping out of school, misbehavior and unemployment?; nearly 85% of the youths who face trial in the court system are functionally illiterate; and, the more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher the student’s reading level?
When I researched these statistics, I teamed up with Parents and Children Advance Together (PCAT) family literacy center in June 2017. PCAT provides free programs to underserved children to help them learn to read. I was eager to help, so I collected 175 books just from word of mouth and was asked to speak at the Children’s Board meeting.
I was encouraged to continue collecting books and focused on improving my community, and came up with a motto: “When you can read, you can learn anything!” For service hours I tutored children, visited Kindergarten classes to read and to discuss the importance of reading, attended community events to spread the importance of literacy, and, collected books to donate to at-risk children in elementary schools. I believe books need to be in the hands of elementary level students when they are eager to learn. I also arranged a book donation box to be placed at the New Tampa Y. In just two months, 1,600 books were collected! After sorting and organizing them, over 1,500 elementary level books were donated to Foster Elementary as the reading test scores were below average.
I continued to collect books and after five more months I received 2,400 books, which were donated:
• 200 - Non-children's books to the Salvation Army
• 60 - New books for the Metropolitan Ministries at Christmas
• 50 - Middle school level books to Liberty Middle
• 400 - PCAT (Parents & Children Advance Together)
• 1,700 - Edison Elementary
In total, I donated over 4,000 books, and May 2018 I had earned the Girl Scout Silver Award for promoting literacy.
When I started my 8th grade year at Liberty Middle School, my history teacher encouraged me to continue my community service, so I encouraged other Liberty students to get involved. From the previous success, community support and need in Hillsborough County, I continued to build upon my program over the school year. I again spread the word about my literacy mission and had collection boxes at the New Tampa Y and at my middle school. This time, I encouraged donations for middle school level books and I collected another 2,900 books!.
• 50 - Non-children's books to the Salvation Army
• 70 - Middle school level books to Liberty Middle
• 2,800 - Witter Elementary
By March 2019 I had donated all the books, in total over the 2 1/2 years, I donated almost 7,000 books to students who needed them. My desire to improve literacy in my community and my motto “When you can read, you can learn anything!” spread from a small word of mouth project to a massive effort of service to benefit students in need.
My passion for spreading literacy awareness and the importance of being able to read was the foundation for my Gold Award take action project, which was completed March 2022, where I collected and donated 4,400 books.
How to help children with reading:
A child’s ability to read skillfully by the time they are 9 years old impacts their future
Did you know….
* students who don't read skillfully by 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school?
* the inability to read is linked to poor outcomes as a teen and adult, such as dropping out of school, misbehavior and unemployment?
* nearly 85% of the youths who face trial in the court system are functionally illiterate?
* the more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher the student’s reading level?
* you can help your child, or any child in your life, become a strong reader and help them develop a life-long love of reading?
* Get your child a library card. Did you know that all Hillsborough County students have a HAAL Pass (Hillsborough All Access Libraries)? HAAL Pass allows students to use their seven-digit student ID number as a public library card. Click here for HAAL information.
* Read to your kids
* Read all kinds of things with the child: recipes, instructions, magazines
* Have your kids read to you
* Have siblings and friends read to each other
* Sing songs to build phonemic awareness
* Teach letters and their sounds
* Play with letter magnets
* Have them tell you stories and tell them stories
* Make reading a regular activity
* Show the cover, introduce the author and illustrator
* Move your finger under the words as you read
* Don’t rush, speak slowly and loud enough for everyone to hear
* Let your child turn the pages
* Act out the characters with your voice as you read
* Take turns reading words, sentences, or whole pages
* Pause and ask open-ended questions like: "How would you feel if you were that person?" "What do you think will happen next?"
* Discuss what is happening in the pictures
* After: Discuss the 5 w’s: who, What, When, Why and Where and discuss sequence: Beginning, Middle and End of the story
If you live in Florida, you can register your children to receive a free book each month during the school year. Each student needs to be in a Florida K-5 public or charter school, and currently reading below grade level. Click here to enroll the students in your household.
The Family Literacy Project, or “FLiP” for short, is the most time and cost-effective way to help at-risk kids achieve reading proficiency. This is a FREE resource to improve your student's reading level (Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties). Sign up here to see if your student qualifies.
Would you like the children in your life to get a FREE book every month? Through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, you can! This program is for children from birth to 5 years-old is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books free of charge. Please click here to sign up a child.
On the second Saturday of every month, the Community Center provides snacks, children’s books and a hot breakfast at Harvest Hope Park. Please click here for more information about the "Feed Hope Event".
The North Tampa Family Resource Center and Readers in Motion will be offering FREE tutoring for children in grade K-3rd. Sessions will be offered on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. Please call 813-558-1877 for more information and to register. Click here for the website, which provides valuble community information and many support services.
Renaissance myON® Reader is a student-centered, personalized literacy environment that gives students access to more than 6,000 enhanced digital books. Titles are matched to each student’s interests, grade and reading level. Students can access the books using their student number. It's avaiable though an App or through the computer. Click here to login.
Research shows that the earlier children get help with their reading the better. Sadly, there are not enough teachers or tutors for one-on-one help. This website and app was developed to help by listening to children read using speech recognition software and it pauses when a child stalls or makes a mistake on a word and it teaches them the word. The app is $7.99 but there is a 1-month free trial.
Does your child love dogs? If so, this program gives children a chance to spend time with animals by reading to them.
Paws for Literacy is a free program for children 5 years and older. They provide reading stools, books and treats for the animals so children can improve their reading skills while hanging out with a furry friend.
Brightly Storytime - This is a great channe! When the book is read, the words get highlighted so you can follow along. There are so many books to choose from!
Harper Kids - The books on this channel are read to you by the author or illustrator of the book! And you get to hear a bit about how the book was created.
Happy Cultivated - This channel has holiday books, classics and favorite characters, such as Amelia Bedelia, Dr. Seuss and Pete the Cat! There are over 100 books to choose from!
This channel has holiday books, classics and favorite characters, such as ... There is over 100 books to choose from!
PV Storytime - This channel's books are read by a kid, just like you! Maybe it will inspire you to read a book to your family or even write a book of your own!
Storyline Online - This page has books read to you by famous people. They chose their favorite books to share with you.
Free Childrens Stories - Their mission is to offer meaningful storytelling to each reader around the globe, with access to the internet, for free.
Unite for Literacy - Provides free digital access to picture books, narrated in many languages (choose “Narration” to change language)
"There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts. To read a book and surrender to a story is to keep our very humanity alive."
~ Helen Fagin
There are many areas within the United States where books and reading materials are hard to get, which results in childrens not having any books at home. Can you believe that, according to the U.S. Department of Education, up to 61% of low-income families do not have any books for their children in their homes. The lack of access to books negitively impacts not only a child's reading, writing and speaking skills, but also their development which leads to school dropout, unemployment and poverty.
Book Deserts and the Widening Literacy Gap - "The fight to improve childhood literacy starts with books."
Host a book drive! Reading is fun, and it's so important, but so many children don't have books at home. It's unimaginable for people who live in a house that has bookcases filled with books, but the reality is that 61% of low-income families don't have books at home for their children to read. In middle-income neighborhoods there are 13 books per each child, but in low-income neighborhoods there is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.
Children need the foundation of reading and literacy to become successful adults and it’s essential they have the support and resources to help them, and something simple as giving books to others will have a big impact in their lives.
Read. Share. Repeat. If everyone passed along the books they've read on to others, especially to those who don't have books, our communities would be stronger. Scouting Troops of all ages, community organizations, sports clubs, school clubs and religious organizations could help students by having a book drive and donating the books to in-need and at-risk students. Many of these students don’t have books at home, so by collecting books and giving them to students who don’t have them will ensure that books will be in their home. A book drive to donate the books to schools or Community Centers will bring attention to the need for books and to encourage literacy while helping the community and fellow students.
It doesn't have to be complicated! 🙂
You could also volunteer at a school or learning center to help support the community. Are you in High School? Need volunteer hours? You can be a positive role model for the young students while helping them improve their readking skills, while also benefiting from service hours. What a fun and impactful way to give back to the community!
Book Buddy Reading Clubs and Book Drives!
To implement my ideas, the school could start a Reading “Book Buddy” Club. This could be for students at HOST, before and after school, or as a part of Club Day, or during ELA reading time where younger and older classes could get together to support each other with reading. Also, the elementary school could partner with a nearby High School where High School students would be given an opportunity to volunteer and be partnered with elementary students who need extra reading help and tutoring. This is a great option as it would help High School students gain service hours for scholarships and it would help elementary students with their reading success. So many households have overflowing bookshelves of children’s books, but there are many others that don’t have a book in their home, so reading at school is important. Many students are below reading level so having reading time at school is a convenient and easy way for them to practice reading.
Read. Share. Repeat. If everyone passed along the books they've read on to others, especially to those who don't have books, our communities would be stronger. Your school could help other students in your county by having a book drive and donating the books to a Title 1 school where students are in-need and at-risk. Many of these students don’t have books at home, so by collecting books and giving them to students who don’t have them will ensure that books will be in their home. A book drive and partnering with an Elementary school will bring attention to the need for books and to encourage literacy while helping the community and fellow students.