If you are like me, then you can’t imagine a world without access to books. I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by them for my entire life – for me, it has never been a question of if I’ll be able to read another book, it is a question of which book I will choose.
If, like me, you have been blessed with the opportunity to grow up literate and with the world of reading at your fingertips, then please join me in donating a new or gently used young adult book to help a group of students who are not so fortunate.
“Chrissy’s Classroom” is located in Shiprock High School, an underserved school in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. My friend Chrissy Costello, who works there as part of the Teach for America Program, had this to say about her students and the world they have grown up in:
The majority of my 100% Navajo students speak neither Navajo nor English fluently; they are “alingual”. My reading classes are 9th through 12th graders reading at a 2nd – 6th grade level. 56% of the population is below the poverty line with 51% unemployment (40% of homes lack plumbing, 60% lack phone lines, and 78% of roads are dirt or gravel).
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) developed a boarding school system for American Indian students in the 19th century. The philosophy and intent of this and most subsequent schools was to assimilate Indian children by removing them from their native cultures (aka families), and teaching them the manners, dress, and job skills that were deemed important by the school founders and administrators. The repercussions of these boarding schools on contemporary native life are lasting trauma, difficulty integrating back into families and communities, failure to learn parenting skills, loss of culture, loss of identity, loss of language, domestic violence, substance abuse (mostly alcohol, crystal meth, and pharmaceuticals) and suicide. On top of that, illiteracy is rampant. The majority of my students parents were never taught to read, and that has passed down to their sons and daughters. The concept of a book is foreign to them, as that physical object was not a presence in their upbringing. For many of my students, they did not have books growing up.
Although all donations are helpful, Chrissy tells me that she and her students are most in need of young adult books along the lines of Harry Potter and Twilight – something that will capture the students’ interests without being too challenging. I assure you that Chrissy will make sure that the donated books fall into deserving hands.
If you have a new or gently used book that you would like to donate, you can send your donation directly to Chrissy’s Classroom at:
Ms. Chrissy Costello
PO Box 4854
Shiprock, NM 87420
Or, if you live in the Austin area and would like to save on postage, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange for you to leave your donation with me. (I am working on getting a “Drop Box” location in Austin where you can leave your donations at your convenience – stay tuned, and I’ll let you know if and when I’m able to figure something out)
Thank you so much in advance for donating to this great cause! If you have any questions, please email me or leave a comment below.