Cultural Spin on New Program has Students Falling in Love with Reading

Students read for fun 15 minutes every school day, as part of a new school program.

“What’s going to happen next?!” squealed a young girl to Danielle, who was reading a book out loud about a frog learning to play T-ball.

“I’m not sure,” said the St. Joseph’s Indian School staff member. “Let’s turn the page and find out!”

This scene from the first grade class is a glimpse into the new school reading program, launched last fall. The program is called Yawa, the Lakota word for Read.

During Yawa time, students and staff are asked to stop all activity and read. Students get to choose their own reading materials and are encouraged to read for pleasure. Meaning, for approximately 15 minutes every day, students can have adventures with the likes of fearless Percy Jackson and Anne with an E, or even whimsical characters such as Winnie the Pooh and The Lorax.

Guest readers will also be dropping into classes from time to time to share their favorite books with students — proving that even adults still enjoy reading a good book.

Guest reader, Evan, reads a book to first grade students who giggle with delight.

But of course, there are also other unseen goals for the program. The goal of Yawa is to increase student reading proficiency, improve students’ motivation to read and facilitate overall language development. Reading programs such as this have proven to increase reading comprehension, which helps students better understand the books they are reading, but also math and science problems. It also supports students building the inner belief that they are good readers, which can improve overall academic achievement.

Students who read 15 minutes a day will encounter 5.7 million words by the end of high school.

“Of course we want students to excel as readers in the classroom, but we also simply want students to fall in love with reading. That way it is seen as something they enjoy rather than a chore,” said Sharmel, school principal.

Sure, 15 minutes of reading a day doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really adds up …

If a typical first grade student reads approximately 15 minutes/day, that student is on track to encounter 5.7 million words by the end of the twelfth grade. In comparison, kids who read less than 15 minutes/day are only likely to encounter 1.5 million words during the course of their schooling.

Dr. Seuss is a favorite author around campus and his books are devoured during Yawa time!

Thank you for being a supporter of student programs, like Yawa!

Did You Know …
Traditionally, the Lakota used stories and songs to entertain, as well as teach and inspire. Storytelling was how Native Americans passed down the history, heritage and traditions of their culture. Wówapi is the Lakota word for book.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

6 thoughts on “Cultural Spin on New Program has Students Falling in Love with Reading”

  1. I look forward to all the posts and articles you share about your school and the many activities you do for and with the children. I wish I lived closer so I could become a mentor !! I feel your program is THE most important for me to continue to donate to and by the way I remember when I was a child ( a LOOONG time ago) my mother donated to St. Joseph’s, so I feel whenever I can send a donation, it’s coming from me and my mother.
    Blessings to all staff and children.

    1. That is so sweet, Elizabeth. We appreciate your kindness and your clear dedication to helping with our mission. Thank you!

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