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Illuminating Literacy: GGAB's Mission to Brighten New Mexico's Youth







Sophia Schulz

UNM Reading Tutor 

UNM Psychology Major

Winter 2024


 

In New Mexico, only 24% of fourth graders read at their grade level, the lowest percentage in our country (1). This fact is evidence of a very apparent problem in New Mexico: low literacy rates, specifically among our youth. This problem can be attributed to many possible factors, but the most glaring and influential is that of child poverty. 28% of children under the age of 5 and 25% of children under the age of 18 in New Mexico are living in poverty (2). This means these children may face many challenges in developing their literacy skills, such as a lack of reading materials and quality, age-appropriate books. They may also not be receiving enough tutoring and encouragement from their parents at home to help them learn to read, as their parents may be focused on more urgent matters such as food, clothing, and shelter. 


This problem cannot be ignored, however, and the challenges these children face must be addressed. For, there is evidence that shows that access to literary resources has substantial immediate and long-term effects on their vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension skills (3). Thus, a lack of access to books and encouragement in reading can have a lasting negative impact on their secondary education and later adulthood. This is why Global Give-A-Book has made it their mission to combat this trend and help the children of New Mexico overcome these challenges. GGAB donates quality, award-winning books to the children who need it the most through food pantries, preschools for children experiencing homelessness like Cuidado Los Niños, and many events that GGAB holds to reach more children and encourage their love for reading. 


Sophia reading to kindergarten-aged children through GGAB's partnership with Cuidando Los Ninos.


As a GGAB Reading Tutor, I had the opportunity to attend many of these events and witness the work GGAB is putting into making a difference in our community. One of them that I attended, called Lavender Libros in the Sky, was held at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We gave away many books to many excited children and even held multiple readings by Miss New Mexico, which the children really enjoyed. The whole experience was very sweet as I got to see all the kids get excited over choosing a book to bring home.


Another event that I attended was the read-a-thon that the other UNM Reading Tutors and I put together and ran for a group of kids in the age range of 4-11. The read-a-thon was one of my favorite experiences working with GGAB. The kids were given books to read on their own or with help, depending on their age, and afterward were given book reports to complete. I believe the event helped encourage an interest in reading for the kids while also helping them develop a sense of independence and confidence in their skills after reading on their own and completing the book report. At the end of the event, all the kids took their new books home and had a very happy and accomplished sense to them, which made me feel proud. I believe that through these events, GGAB is helping to reverse the trend of a lack of access to books and a lack of interest in reading. Instead, GGAB is teaching kids how fun and essential reading truly is while also providing them with the quality reading materials that they need.


Reading with Shepherd Daisy Read-A-Thon hosted by GGAB's UNM Reading Tutors


Above all, though, my favorite experience while working with GGAB was definitely reading to the children at Cuidado Los Niños. The children there are from low-income families struggling with homelessness. They come to the preschool to have a safe environment where they are fed, can learn, and make friends. We would make weekly visits to the preschool to read to the kids and/or tutor them with their reading if they showed interest. I was truly touched and inspired by how the kids came to look forward to our visits and request certain books. Over time they became truly engaged and exemplified a passionate interest in listening to the books and attempting to read on their own. The experience taught me how putting in the effort and attention by consistently reading to the kids really went a long way. Those kids are part of the percentage of children living in poverty who have a greater chance of falling behind in school and in life because they don’t have access to books that other kids have. This lack, in the beginning, can go on to create issues that stunt them for the rest of their lives. This is why it's so crucial that GGAB continues to do what they do and carry out its mission to promote youth literacy. 


Too many people are held back because of a lack of proficiency in their literacy. We need to fix this problem before it forms, when kids are in the stage of life where it's most important to strengthen their skills– so they won’t ever be held back from reaching their full potential. This is why I am proud to work with GGAB and help to carry out their mission.


UNM Reading Tutors, Elena, Sophia, and Teresa alongside GGAB Ambassador, Natalie Rose, hosted the Reading with Shepherd Diasy Read-A-Thon in December of 2023.



 

United, we can bridge the divide in book access.

Donating to Global Give-A-Book is a meaningful investment in the future of underserved children.


Your contribution directly supports our mission to provide quality books to children who need them the most and empower children with the tools for success.


 


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