Come Read With Us

Sometimes when I have a side conversation with Amy (my collaborator on the Reading Warriors project) before training starts, where we decide how much time to dedicate to processing the murder that occurred on the playground last night, and we decide 15 minutes is good and to let the teens moderate it, and it turns out 15 minutes is a good amount of time, and then they go on to do utterly amazing planning work with more dedication and thoughtfulness than I've seen from most classroom teachers in the last ten years....well....I am simultaneously grinning from ear to ear with satisfaction and pride over this program we have built together and utterly sick with the scope of poverty, violence and hopelessness that a quarter of this city's children are growing up in.

Sorry for the run-on. And dropping that bit about the murder in there. But that's kind of what the inside of my head feels like when I'm at work. So. Many. Problems.

No choice except to deal and move on. Even when the problems are serious.

Because we've got a solution.

At the core, it is simple. Reading Warriors focus their efforts on shrinking the word gap. How do we do that? By reading and having rich conversations with kids. Teens really can do this! It starts with a book and ends with crafting a patchwork quilt out of construction paper or making smoothies or finding 6 different kinds of a maple leaves in the blocks around our program sites. They come up with amazing ideas when I can restrain myself and stop meddling in their lesson planning.

During the next couple of weeks, you can support our work and it's easy.

On Wednesday July 23 or Thursday July 31 you can join us. If you are local, come to the events in the Hill or East Liberty. Bring a book, or use one of ours and just sit and read for a minute. You can bring a kid or an office-mate. Bring your mom. Bring your dog. Bring your goldfish. You'll probably hear some P-O-W-E-R, or see some of their trademarked "animation reading" (seriously, they made it up) and it's just really fun. If you can't join us in person, read wherever you are, take a selfie and post it on FB or Instagram with #ReadingWarriors. Buy a book for a kid you know or send a donation to your local library. If you see a Reading Warrior out and about, ask them about their work. Make sure the kids you know read 100 books this summer (it's only 2-3 a day). Or you can do a hundred chapters, if they are a bit older.


Summer on the Porch

My neighbor Marlene joins us for
lemonade and story time.
We live on a super busy corner, and therefore do not experience the oasis of peace and quiet that I formerly associated with porch swings and pitchers of lemonade. No matter, the porch is a great place to gather a few neighbors, drink lemonade, read, paint, splash in the kiddy pool, and tend our little garden. The kids help with weeding and watering. M recently started a new job and my job is super busy in the summer, so we don't really have any big vacation plans. We take the kids to the city pool, M plays in a softball league once a week, and we've been on a couple of short camping trips in the Laurel Highlands.

When we started writing this blog, M and I didn't even really have a home. We were staying with relatives in between various road trips and backpacking adventures. I was thinking about how much online connectivity we have these days, compared to 2006. Back then we really had to hunt for a public library to send email or  upload photos! We didn't even carry a cell phone with us on the AT...just used pay phones. I don't even know if you can rely on that anymore as an option. You never knew where we would pop up next because a few days or a week would go by in between phone calls or blog posts. Thus the name of the blog. It felt exciting and free to spend a lot of days out of reach from everyone I knew.

Now you pretty much know where to find us. Happy hour after work is on the porch. Less beer, more iced rooibos tea. We carefully watch our phlox as they come into bloom and try to keep the lemon balm from taking over the entire yard. Laurel is a creative artist, always doing something new with the way she applies and layers paint. Marko just likes to dump things into and out of buckets....whether it's dirt or water or a collection of small toys. He's very busy and serious about it. He makes it look like work, but work he enjoys.

In a couple of weeks, we're going to crack open a few cartons of ice cream and make sundaes for anyone who walks by, for National Night Out. I'll drag every chair I own out to the little patch of grass in my front yard, and hopefully we'll meet some new neighbors. It's Laurel's favorite event of the entire year, and she's been inviting everyone she runs into.