Today’s blog post is part of our Stories For All Project series, focused on sharing the latest announcements and impact stories about our effort to put diverse, inclusive books into the hands of kids.
Cathy Gaudio reads aloud to a group of students in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a special day – every child at Sun Canyon Elementary is going home with a book of their own. The book, “Pelitos” by Sandra Cisneros, is bilingual. She reads one page in English, soon echoed by her bright-eyed helper reading the page in Spanish. The children are thrilled.
“’Pelitos’ talks about how we all have different kinds of hair – showing that everyone’s differences are worth celebrating” explains Cathy.
Cathy, the Program Manager of AARP Foundation Experience Corps Phoenix, is joined by the school’s reading tutors for the celebration. For an hour every week, 90 retiree volunteers from the program tutor 300 children in ten schools throughout the city. Sun Canyon is one such school.
On this day, the students gained more than reading skills from their tutors. They saw themselves in the book they enjoyed.
“When these students can see themselves in books, they get more excited about reading, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to inspire in them,” says Cathy. “There’s one reference to very long hair that’s shiny. After we finished reading one little girl went to her book and opened to that page saying ‘This is me! This is my hair!”
The young girl’s discovery created a larger conversation in the classroom.
“But this is me!” said one child.
“But I have curly hair, so this is me,” said another.
“At that age, they all accept each other and can find something very personal in that book,” Cathy observes.
Every child was able to find a reflection of themselves and they were overjoyed.
View our Latino Culture Collection for more books that speak to the experience of Latino students, or introduce them to new experiences and culture!