No. 655



There is a verse in the Bible that says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Sadly, so many people miss this simple truth and never learn the joy that comes from helping others. We have thousands of wonderful, caring people in our community who are constantly helping others, and a good number of them are involved in our “Bookcase for Every Child” project.
Several months ago, before we had our fourth annual Awards Ceremony, I got a phone call one morning from a lady on her way to Wal-Mart to purchase 50 large stuffed animals of various kinds to give to our children as a “reading buddy.” Only a mother would think of doing something like that for the children who received a bookcase and a “starter set” of books.
This mother was sensitive to the fact that many young children may not have another person to read to them, or listen as they read, and came up with this “reading buddy” idea on her own. If you are a parent or grandparent, you may have done this or know someone who has. I didn’t think a whole lot about this idea at the time, but the more I have thought about a child having a special “reading buddy” the more I realize the potential to help many young children in so many different ways. However, a reading buddy should never take the place of a parent reading to or with their child. This wonderful, caring lady, who does not want any recognition, also came up with the idea of having a little personalized card attached to the animal with a message of introduction.
Here is what each personalized card said, “Hello, John! I am very happy to meet you. I get lonely sometimes and would love to have someone special read to me. I cannot read; but I am very comfy, and you can snuggle up beside me while you are reading. Would you like to be my special reading buddy? Love, Your New Friend. P.S. I also cannot read minds. You will have to read out loud so I can hear you. Please wash and dry me when I get dirty. It makes me feel better.”
While I don’t know about you, I really didn’t get the significance of this idea until I read the card. You may have already reached the same conclusion, but the little phrase, “You will have to read out loud” could make a world of difference in a small child’s future.
I will never forget something Lu Hardin, president of the University of Central Arkansas, told me one time. We were talking about reading and he said, “Early intervention is the key.” The earlier you can help and encourage a child to read, the better the child’s chances will be to succeed in school. Early success in school is very important because this is the foundation for continuing to get a good education. Getting a good education opens up a whole world of opportunities, and just think, some of it may have come to pass because your child had a good reading buddy.
But back to what reading out loud will accomplish. The child who reads out loud will learn to pronounce words more distinctly, to enunciate better, to learn inflection and to learn to pause at the proper times. Like the muscles of our body, the voice that is used more becomes stronger. In my earlier days I wrote and recorded a daily radio program, so I know this is true from personal experience. There is another significant benefit that may be just as important as all the rest. This is the fact that when a parent overhears their child reading, they can encourage them and also be in a position to detect problems that can be corrected while the child is still very young.
Well, obviously we could talk about this topic for a considerable length of time, but I believe you get the idea of what having a good “reading buddy” can mean to a small child. With your permission, I would like to return to the idea of “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and give you a couple more examples. This past year we had a member of our bookcase committee who made a personalized “book mark” for each of our 50 children.
We also have another lady (who certainly does not want any recognition but I am going to break the rule because she is so special) who has given 50 beautiful Children’s Bible Story Books for each of the four years we have had the Awards Ceremony.
Mrs. Lynnette Collums, an 80-year-old retired school teacher who lives more than 40 miles away in Bee Branch, Arkansas, told me, “I want to do something outside of my church and outside of my community for others that will make a difference.” I would say she has made a difference and we are all grateful for her contribution.
Without a doubt, every community has good people like we have here. The children we are helping are the future of America. Hope you will get involved.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)