Should You Eat Green Eggs and Ham?
A Small Town Book Project
By A. J. Gary (Chagni, Awi Zone 2012–14)
“No . . . but what is ham?” was the curious response given by my English club students when I asked them the warm-up question.
We were all gathered together on a cold Saturday morning in my small, ironically green model classroom to read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. My students were sitting huddled together resulting in a colorful array of traditional clothing while I was standing before them holding the book of the week in my hands. It had now become a routine for us to start every weekly meeting with a children’s story. As I read the peculiar tale of the insistent Sam-I-am and his unsettling breakfast food, my students listened to the fun and witty rhymes of Dr. Seuss and smiled at the amusing illustrations. To finish the lesson, we created funny rhymes and illustrations of our own and shared them with each other. My students love children’s books and always ask me what book we will read next. I usually don’t know until the next package of donated books arrives in the mail.
I started a book donation project a little over two months ago in an attempt to remedy the short comings of my school library. Current education Volunteers are expected to promote early-grade reading programs at their schools, but a major obstacle for many Volunteers is the lack of books at their school libraries. Many schools do not have the necessary resources to provide sustainable reading programs for their students. This was the unfortunate situation I found myself in when I first began working at my primary school. My library consisted primarily of old, dusty and underutilized resource books. There were a very small number of books that could be categorized as fiction and an even smaller number of books that would be appropriate for young readers. I wasn’t sure how to fix the problem until another Volunteer told me about an organization called BetterWorldBooks.
BetterWorldBooks is an online global bookstore with a mission to bring literacy and opportunity to people around the world. Every time you purchase a book from BetterWorldBooks.com, they donate a book to one of their non-profit partners: Books for Africa or Feed the Children.
I edited a list of 200 children’s books I received from a friend and posted the list on my blog. In my blog, I humbly request for friends, family, and anyone else in a giving spirit to choose books from the list and purchase the books at BetterWorldBooks.com. Most of the books cost between $5 and $10. The purchased books are then sent to my address in Ethiopia at no cost. So far, a total of 80 books have been donated to my school and I hope to receive 200 books by early February. If you are interested in learning more about my book project — and perhaps making a donation, you can visit my blog at thetravelingsword.blogspot.com.
I have a lot of plans for the donated books. They will not suffer the same fate as the moldy resource books currently occupying the shelves of my school library. I do a lot of work promoting reading in my grades 5-8 English clubs. As I previously stated, it’s already a normal routine for us to read a book at the beginning of every lesson. English club students are also permitted to borrow books for a few days to encourage reading at home with their families. Later in the year, my students will participate in a creative writing competition. The books play a significant role in preparing my students for the competition because they provide imaginative ways to experience English. Through reading, students learn how to be creative and spontaneous with the language which will help them become fluent speakers in the future.