Beyond Books: Supporting Literacy and Learning

Sep 14, 2017

The very definition of literacy, in addition to the ability to read and write, is competence or knowledge in a specified area. Established in 2003, Phi Kappa Phi’s Literacy Grant Program was created as a way to help members and chapters champion initiatives that recognize the many facets of literacy. The grants, of up to $2,500, help fund projects ranging from traditional reading initiatives to those fostering learning in cultural, digital, financial, health, historical literacy and beyond.

Read how some of the 2017 Literacy Grant recipients are making a difference across the globe:

lit_pawstalesPaws and Tales
Emily Taylor Beighley

The Paws and Tales program brings shelter cats and kittens waiting for adoptive homes together with children ages 6-15 to promote literacy and compassion. Helpful for fluent as well as struggling readers, Paws and Tales assists students in becoming strong lifelong readers. Studies at the University of California, Davis and University of California, Berkeley show that children's reading skills improve by 20-30 percent when reading to a pet. Because the human-animal bond lends itself to the emotional safety required for healing and learning, the program also promotes improved confidence and self-esteem. The comforting and nonjudgmental presence of an animal companion helps young learners associate reading with positive and rewarding experiences.

lit_tinybookhouseTiny Book House
Dalia Karina Delanuez

The Tiny Book House project promotes reading, research and neighborhood involvement to more than 9,200 families from different racial backgrounds in the Staunton Bridge Road community of Greenville, S.C. The Clemson University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to implement the project, which engages communities that motivate and foster the love of reading. In its first phase, the project is promoting, building and stocking Tiny Book Libraries (pictured) with new books. The second phase aims to promote literacy and reading activities through a website and community gatherings while also integrating families with children in K-12 using a community recreational center, library system and churches throughout community.

lit_tothemountainBringing “To the Mountain!” to Their Ears
Leah McCurdy

The Bringing “To the Mountain!” to Their Ears project is an extension of the trilingual and archaeologically accurate children's book titled To the Mountain! The book was written as a way to connect Belizean children to their cultural heritage. In 2016, the book was distributed for free to nearly 1,000 school children. The current phase of the initiative focuses on creating a trilingual audiobook companion with students lending their own voices to bring the story and language to life. The audiobook will be a unique educational resource for rekindling interest in ancestral Maya language, personal multilingual literacy development for all ages, and classroom-based heritage studies within the Belizean educational system.

Read more about the Literacy Grants Program and see what other initiatives are being championed by this year’s recipients.