April 12, 2011

Literacy project participants to share their poetry

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Children from Carbondale’s I Can Read after-school tutoring program at the Eurma C. Hayes Center will read their poetry at an April event and everyone is welcome to hear what they’ve crafted about inspirational people from the area.

The program, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Carbondale Middle School, is the result of a project initiated by Carbondale Community High School sophomore Kasey Mallette. With help from a $487 National Education Association Youth Leaders for Literacy Competitive Grant from Youth Services of America, and support from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Mallette launched “Strengthening Our Community of Literacy Learners: Writing Poetry About Inspiring African American Community Members” last month. Mallette was one of just 30 across the nation to receive an NEA grant.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the poetry reading event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 16 at the Carbondale Middle School.

Mallette volunteers a couple of days each week at the I Can Read program and conceived the program to help strengthen the reading and writing skills of the children. Building on the tone of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Program, the project involved faculty, staff and students from SIUC along with community members. The SIUC College of Education and Human Services and its curriculum and instruction department assisted through the in-kind donation of supplies and materials. Mythili Rundblad, coordinator of service-learning and volunteerism at SIUC, was Mallette’s adult ally for the project.

Inspirational African American community members read their favorite books to the children and project volunteers helped the youngsters gather newspaper stories and other information about the guests and prepare interview questions. The children interviewed the guests and used their newfound knowledge to create acrostic poems. The young poets will share their original acrostics about people who inspire them during the reading. More than two dozen children participated in Mallette’s project.

The participating children, their families and community members will also get copies of a special book featuring the children’s poetry. The celebration, which takes place on the National Education Association’s Global Youth Service Day, includes refreshments. Mallette requests guests RSVP if possible by emailing kcmichelle@me.com or calling 618/559-5338 to assure there’s plenty of pizza.

“I hope people will join us to celebrate Carbondale -- our children and our community,” Mallette said.