That was us at our first meeting. We had a great discussion, some food and drinks and a movement was born. Soon, we grew to as many as twenty members! We established bylaws, began paying dues, appointed officers, ordered T-shirts, and before we knew it, Between the Lines Book Club was leading by example in advocating literacy in Staten Island, NY and beyond.
This summer, we will start a chapter called BTL Kids. It will be a summer program for kids ages 8-12, and we are excited to reach a new group of youngsters. Our goal is to show them early in their lives that literacy is important, that reading is FUN! Our two month program will be a great way for them to spend their summer. And once school resumes, the kids will be encouraged to read recreationally throughout the school year, and will be assigned books over extended breaks such as Christmas or mid-winter recess. By the time all the details of our summer program were finalized, we already had each of our twelve slots filled!
My own children will tell you that when they were growing up, I constantly taught them about the history of slavery in this country. I wanted them to always have knowledge of themselves, of their ancestors and of what obstacles they were up against just for being young, gifted and black. One of the things that I've explained to them is that slaves were forbidden to read. The slave owners knew that if their slaves were educated, if they were given the power of literacy, they would no longer be able to keep them under submission. The penalty for a slave caught reading were intense, often brutal. The phrase, "If you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book." became commonplace - and sadly true.