Reading South of the Border

In one day over Christmas break, the elementary hallway and classrooms at Faith Christian School went through an amazing transformation.  For the following two weeks, the students seemed to be joyfully living in another country–Mexico!  They produced Mexican instruments from recycled materials, sang Mexican songs, made flags, learned to say familiar Spanish phrases, traded in the market, and even ate cactus.  What could have produced such a culture transplant?

Reading is Vital

Before learning about the answer to that question, consider that no one associated with raising or educating children questions the value of reading.  Most states, including Indiana, are continuing to increase reading skills standards for students in an effort to improve college and career readiness.

Some students seem to naturally read for pleasure any chance they get, while others struggle with motivation to read much at all.  Such difficulties can stem from different interests, lack of early exposure, or simply a slower pace of learning reading skills.  Motivation and effort increase, however, when students can be shown that reading satisfies valuable personal interests and needs.  All students need to keep growing in their reading and comprehension skills and in the value they ascribe to reading.

Reading is Fun!

Elementary teachers, led by Debbie Grass and Denise Fox, provided the context for building students’ excitement and appreciation for reading.  During the two-week “Reading Extravaganza–Reading South of the Border,” each classroom focused on learning more about selected authors and books.  The authors were quite varied, so the overall theme helped unify the classroom and home activities for students.  The theme and authors were also integrated into academic subjects for heightened interest.

We were extremely blessed that an American missionary to Mexico, Mrs. Jamie Hornbrook, gave daily presentations to all the elementary classes.  She engaged students in active learning while helping them appreciate differences seen in other people groups or cultures.  These presentations were certainly highlights of each day.  As one student stated, Reading Extravaganza was “one of the most exciting events of the year!”

Reading is a Ministry Tool

God chose to communicate with us through the written Word. What an amazing blessing to be able to read and learn from it!  Through reading and writing, people can share truth with one another to help each other know God better.  This point was made so clearly in Mrs. Hornbrook’s final presentation on the spread of the gospel.  People can also grow in understanding, friendship, and compassion toward other people groups and cultures by reading about them.  We can also learn much from them.

In addition to knowing Him, God created communication and language so we can also be productive stewards of resources and opportunities through employment and service to others.  At Faith, we want to equip students to live effectively in God’s world.  Reading is a critical and enjoyable life skill that helps make that possible.  We’re already looking forward to next year’s Extravaganza!

Jonathan Lambeth