Friday, May 06, 2005


It’s very inspiring to learn that a volunteer organization, 100 Black Men of Omaha, has been sending guest readers into an inner-city preschool as a powerful witness to disadvantaged kids that they can be anything they can imagine themselves to be.

Group president James Mason Jr. told The World-Herald in a story about the effort that the reason he goes to read to and interact with the children is because “what they see is what they’ll be.” Group members have found success in a wide variety of fields, and children need to see that success personified. It’s the best way to motivate them to put a higher priority on their educations so that they can reach their goals, too.

Members have donated a number of culturally-appropriate books for the classroom so that the children will see grownups and children that look like them, and environments that look like theirs.

The service is especially valuable in inner-city schools, where the children’s exposure to books, reading, and high-vocabulary verbal interaction in their homes tends not to be as good as in more advantaged homes. The more words young children hear, and the more positive interactions they have, the more brain pathways they build, and the bigger their vocabularies and the better their thinking skills will be.

If there’s one thing all schools need, it’s more refreshing, drop-in reading volunteers like these guys. They wrote the book on how to make something of yourself, and now are trying to help others write their own.

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