Talk like a pirate with 826 National
By Megan on September 19th, 2012
As part of Scholastic’s global literacy campaign, Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life., we’ve identified organizations that work every day to see that children learn to read, love to read, and have access to books. We call them “Literacy Champions”and we want to acknowledge their hard work here on the blog in our Literacy Champions series.
It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! The creators of this original (albeit random) holiday John Baur and Mark Summers came up with the concept in 1995, and it’s caught on with the public throughout the years. Today, we thought we’d highlight an amazing organization that knows a thing or two about these swashbuckling plunderers of the sea: 826 National.
826 National is a nonprofit organization comprised of a network of eight writing and tutoring centers in major cities across the country. The genius behind this model is that each center features a street-front retail store filled with unusual and hilarious products for kids. The retail store adjoining San Francisco’s center, 826 Valencia, is a Pirate Supply Store. Yes, a pirate supply store. Kids can find everything from eye patches and treasure chests to mermaid bait, hooks and glass eyes. All of these items serve as fodder for the writing they produce in the workshops. We salute their innovation and their cause, which is why 826 National is a Scholastic Literacy Champion. Read their story below.
Since its founding in San Francisco in 2002 by award-winning author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, 826 National has sparked students’ imaginations by offering free programs that celebrate the written word. This nonprofit organization is, at its core, a network of writing and tutoring centers that helps under-resourced students, ages 6-18, to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.
The thousands of students who visit 826 centers are surrounded by books – some written by esteemed authors and released by major publishers, and some penned by fellow students and produced at 826! In 2011 alone, 826 centers in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Ann Arbor, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles published more than 950 chapbooks and anthologies by young writers. And, knowing that the best writers are voracious readers, at 826 the students are encouraged to spend thirty minutes reading a book from the 826 shelves or something they’ve brought from home.
Another key component of 826 is the volunteers! The volunteer tutors are on hand to read with the students and provide one-on-one attention and inspiration, which helps create great leaps in learning. Today, 826 National has served nearly 29,000 young people who are learning to love reading and the imaginative worlds words on a page can create. More here www.826national.org.
Anyone who helps a child to read is a Literacy Champion in our book, and we invite you to join our growing list of people committed to supporting childhood literacy. You can also support a Literacy Champion near you—browse a full list on our Read Every Day Lead a Better Life. site.
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