THE JANA'S KIDS READING FOR LIFE PROGRAM
The Jana’s Kids Reading for Life Program goal is to help improve Indigenous children’s literacy in North America by providing culturally relevant books and special motivational seminars to inspire reading for Native American children and youth.
A disturbing fact is that American Indians have the highest educational dropout and illiteracy rates of any racial or ethnic group and they are more likely than other groups to be labeled learning handicapped or disabled. The belief that every child in North America has an equal opportunity of learning in schools is sadly not true, and this is an unfortunate situation for the Native American population, especially Natives living on reservations. Poverty on reservations and with many Native American families is rampant. From a structural perspective, many tribal schools are not equipped with the most current equipment such as computers, or don’t have adequate reading materials such as textbooks to help facilitate learning. Also, the mere ascribed status of a Native American can have negative connotations for the social identity of a Native child or young person because they are seen as different; they are being discredited because of being a member of a specific ethnic group and therefore do not have full acceptance in society because of this stigma (McIntyre, The Practical Skeptic, 2007). Sociologist Erving Goffman says that “a negative social label can spoil a person’s identity.” Even when Native American youth attend predominately non-Native schools, school tracking (the process of dividing like-minded students based on aptitude and academic ability) is historically seen as an uneven and unequal practice that puts minority groups at a disadvantage based on their social status.
These reasons, for example, give the notion that many Native children fall short of their academic potential and therefore do not excel in their studies, are illiterate, and eventually drop out of school.
The Jana’s Kids Reading for Life Program goal is to supply Indigenous youth with culturally relevant materials that would provide the critical link between prior knowledge and texts that students read. Books that are cultural based will be seen as familiar and comfortable, and therefore engage the Native student to read and understand the materials more easily. These resources are absolutely essential if Native children are to succeed early in their progress toward literacy. The Jana’s Kids Reading for Life Program will provide the materials and motivation for Native youth to ensure that success.
The initial launch will feature American Indian Story: The Adventures of Sha’kona, (young adult fiction, 4th grade to high school) written by Jana Mashonee and Stephan Galfas. American Indian Story, The Adventures of Sha’kona, is an incredible adventure novel that tells the story of Sha’kona and her tribe’s epic journey from the land of their birth to the New World. Programs for the book will also follow the basic guidelines of The Jana’s Kids Reading for Life Program, but with specific tailoring to the student’s needs and the author’s input.
“Reading leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to power and self sufficiency which leads to an infinite amount of freedom.”
Here's what others are saying:
"(The) Jana's Kids Reading for Life presents a program that will enhance students' skills and give them an ultimate reading adventure. Expanding the personal lives of children by adding books as American Indian Story, The Adventures of Sha'kona also gives students the thrill of owning their own books. RFL is unique because the program creates a bond between the students and the author via emails and personal appearances. Jana's sensitivity, diligence, energy, and dedication have made working with her a joy. I highly recommend her Reading for Life as a welcome addition to any program."
- Orleta Slick, Educator with Shonto School System
"'The Reading for Life Program is a great tool to promote literacy. My only hope is that tribal programs across the country will take this program and make it their own to make a positive impact in their community. Congratulations on such a wonderful book and program!"
- Lisa Begay, Sr. Program Asst., Mesa Arts Center on behalf of Salt River Tribal Library
For more information, please download a suggested outline in WORD format of the program below:
Let us know how we can bring The Jana's Kids Reading for Life Program to your community.