Monday, November 23, 2015

Hands Across The Sea

Some of you have asked about how you might be able to financially support what I'm doing down here. One way is to support a charity that is instrumental to the success of my school's library (and most other libraries in the Eastern Caribbean). Although I had never heard of “Hands Across The Sea” until I arrived here, I've become quite impressed with their operation. They work very closely with the Peace Corps here.

My principal last week brought in a big box containing dozens of colorful new books for our library. We put many of them out on display, but did not allow the students to immediately check them out (we needed to get them stamped and labeled first). The delay helped to build up interest among the students.

Today was the first day that the children were allowed to check out the new books, and they were very excited. They came to the library in descending order, meaning that our most senior class—the fifth graders—were allowed to choose first, then fourth grade, then third grade, etc. Some of the younger students were disappointed to find the books they had wanted were immediately grabbed by older students, but they will get their turn in due time.

Hands Across The Sea does more than just send us brand new books. They provide a great guide book for running a school library, that has served me well in setting up our little library. Rather than trying to use the Dewey Decimal System and gluing library card pockets to the inside of each book, we use a simpler system. Yellow dots on the spines of books for beginner readers, blue dots for intermediate readers, and green dots for advanced readers (with red dots for reference books). Plus, I keep a log book of what the students have checked out.

Because of my strong interest in promoting non-fiction books, I made a slight deviation to this recommended method. By cutting up the white area around each of this stick-on dots, I was able to create a white stripe across the colored dots to distinguish all the non-fiction books (without requiring any new materials). It makes it easier to keep them separate on the shelves and thus helps encourage students to consider reading non-fiction. [Besides, my nature is to do things differently!]

This shows how I cut up the white margin that is leftover (and normally discarded) after removing the dots to create a white stripe distinguishing the non-fiction books (notice that most of these were hand-me-down books that were formerly in someone else's library, hence the Dewey Decimal labels still visible behind the green dots--obviously, these were not the new books we get from Hands Across The Sea).
There is a new movement to counter the materialisting shopping madness on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with “Giving Tuesday” this coming December 1. If you are inclined to make a donation, please consider Hands Across The Sea. On December 1, all donations will be quadruple matched, so that a $25 donation will actually become a $100 donation. Their donation page is an “https” secure page, plus they got a five-star rating from the Great Nonprofits website, so I consider it a safe place to send your money.

The bottom line is that my students went home today excited about reading their brand new library books. These kids need to read more, and donations from the good folks at Hands Across The Sea help to fuel that interest in reading. It does make a difference here, and your dollars (especially after being quadrupled) will insure that this vital pipeline continues.

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