World Read Aloud Day

Wednesday was World Read Aloud Day and it couldn’t have had more perfect timing. The first week of each month I host a reading program in my school’s library that every student – all 1,368 of them! – participates in. This month’s theme was nonfiction and it shouldn’t surprise me that the students enjoyed it more than the previous fairytale lesson.

The preferred read alouds of the students: Flight by Robert Burleigh and Snow Is Falling by Franklyn M. Branley. Who knew they’d love snow and planes so much, seeing as most of these students will never experience either. But that’s what makes books so important in the first place – opening up worlds you’d never be able to experience otherwise.

And I can’t lie, I loved reading Flight to them…thank you Charles Lindbergh for being born in Minnesota : ) It was like reading a little piece of home. If I’m being honest, reading about snow made me feel right at home as well.

Some other much loved books were…


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International Day of People with Disability

December 3rd was International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) – a United Nations’ sanctioned day that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights, and well-being.

This day is incredibly important throughout the world, but especially in Ethiopia, where those with disabilities are usually treated as second-hand citizens, if they’re even acknowledged at all.

I’m proud to say that my main school – Adare Primary – is taking steps to rectify this issue. They’ve recently hired a teacher whose sole responsibility is to work with disabled students. Of course, you may think, what else would they do? But the harsh reality here is that students with disabilities, whether physical or mental, are placed in the same classes as their peers and are eventually forced to drop out when they fall too far behind.

As far as I’m aware, our new teacher doesn’t have much (if any) training on working with disabled students, especially our blind students who have only a bare understanding of braille. Thanks to a number of you lovely people, I have a handful of braille books on the way (including a guide to teaching braille! – Thanks Mom). But in support of International Day of People with Disability, I figured I’d make one more plea with you to help support our students with disabilities.

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The power of reading


This past week marked the start of my new Reading Program at Adare Primary School. In the span of 4 days I taught 23 classes with a total of 1,368 students, grades 1-8. Each class was held in the library so that students who’ve never held a book of fiction before would get a chance to read for an hour.

The plan (hope) is to repeat this program once every month. Grades 1-6 got an introduction to literature. We read some books aloud and then I passed out books for them to read independently. In the coming months we’ll have more focused readings…a day for fairytales, nonfiction, poetry, etc.

Grades 7 and 8 will be participating in a reading challenge. Anyone remember the BOOK IT! Program sponsored by Pizza Hut? Rewarding reading with pizza? Genius. So with that in mind, students will come in every month and read as many books as they can (and then answer the critical thinking questions I created for each book!), and the student from each class (there are 10 grade 7 and 8 classes) who reads the most/answers the most questions correctly will win a goodie bag at the end of the semester.

Goodie bags will include school supplies (most of which I’ve already been able to collect), games, and books. And that’s where you can help. After all, ’tis the season to be generous : ) You can buy a cheap, used book and ship it to Ethiopia FOR FREE – that’s over 7,700 miles if you’re in Minnesota! (Though of course you can ship from anywhere!)

If you’d like to help Adare Primary School Students, here’s what you do:

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