“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.
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.
“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.
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.