By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Members of the Cherokee Youth Council (CYC) engaged in a project recently with the goal of encouraging youth to read more. As the result of a partnership with Raven’s Eye Media, CYC members read various stories which were videoed and posted to YouTube.
The following CYC members participated in the project: Lucian Davis, Alexis Smith, Brayden Taylor, Anna Bigwitch, Emma Taylor, Abigail Taylor, Kaelin Jones, and CYC alumna Faith Long.
Davis read “We Are in a Book”, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, and “Pete the Cat: Rockin’ in My School Shoes!”, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.
“I love that we are able to help younger children to become more interested in reading because I think it is very important to read,” said Davis. “Not only does it help you in the long run, it helps you better yourself as a young person. It is time that we encourage our children to read because it will help them learn and become a better person and reader. And, they can be ready for their future.”
Jones read “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet”, written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer, and the Caldecott Medal winning classic “Where the Wild Things Are”, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
“I feel that this program will help Cherokee youth become interested in reading by exposing them to different genres of literature,” said Jones. “Also, it will show them that others enjoy reading and maybe that will push them to see if reading is something they enjoy as well.”
Abigail Taylor read “If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!”, written and illustrated by Elise Parsley, and “We are Water Protectors”, a Caldecott Medal and Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text winner written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade.
“It’s important because it’s a fun way to get kids involved in reading,” she said. “Hopefully, the kids will gain a positive experience with reading through books that are entertaining and books that cause them to think. This could be the beginning of the journey to becoming life-long readers for these kids.”
Emma Taylor read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle; and “Ten Little Rabbits”, written by Virginia Grossman and illustrated by Sylvia Long.
“I think it will interest them in reading because they see us older kids enjoying the books, and they look up to us,” she commented. “Hopefully, it will encourage them to read and to be more confident when they read.”
Other books and stories in the video series include: “The Eagle Feather” as read by Smith; “Gifts from Raven” as read by Smith; “Grumpy Monkey” as read by Brayden Taylor; “Mama, Do You Love Me?” as read by Faith Long; “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” as read by Bigwitch; and “Goodnight Moon” as read by Brayden Taylor.
Ethan Clapsaddle, Cherokee Youth Council leadership specialist, said that the idea for the project arose out of members wishing to serve the community but still staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We tried to come up with some different projects where they could reach out into the community but still adhere to COVID restrictions.”
He added, “We partnered with Raven’s Eye Media, and Bear Allison came out and set up a mini-studio. The kids really enjoyed it. We simulated like they were reading to a class, but it was in front of a camera and it worked out really, really well.”
Clapsaddle said the CYC plans to continue this project, just changing to an in-person reading experience. “Hopefully, when this COVID thing is done we can get out in the classrooms.”
The Cherokee Youth Council, funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, is a program under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute which is a department of the Cherokee Boys Club.