--Written by guest poster Raquel Quintana--
Yesterday morning I helped Sully Bryan (the Hispanic Outreach Coordinator at United Way of Utah County) with one of the service projects for the Martin Luther King Community Outreach Day. About 15 community volunteers and I read books to about 35 children and their parents in the South Franklin Community Center. We then helped them to create props and act out little plays about the story-line. After each of the skits had been created and performed, I taught all the kids and their parents (in English and Spanish) how each of these stories/skits teaches a valuable moral that Martin Luther King had emphasized in his life. He was such a good leader and wonderful example of courage, persistence, brotherhood, following your dreams, the power of one, etc.
The books we used for the activity were "Beauty and the Beast" (never judge a book by it's cover...beauty is hidden in every person but sometimes it takes love to bring it out), "Where the Wild Things Are" (do not be afraid of the unknown...follow your dreams), "Jackie Robinson" (even when you feel like the whole world is against you, do what your heart longs for..never let anybody tell you you can't), "The Story of the Wright Brothers" (if at first you don't succeed, try and try again...never give up and shoot for the skies), and "Horton Hears a Who" (this is a really great Dr. Seuss classic that teaches about the value of all creatures...no mater how small or insignificant some may seem, each human being is of great value and deserves to be happy and protected...it also teaches about the power that a single person can have to make a difference for good.)
This was such a wonderful activity. Aside from being reminded of these important lessons for my life, I also realized how truly important and valuable reading can be for children. Youth and children who are taught and inspired to read good books will very likely grow up to be quite bright and influential. Books teach us such valuable lessons and can strengthen our character in miraculous ways. At the end of the activity, I encouraged each of those children and their parents to take those lessons and apply them in their day-to-day lives. We should try everyday to be just a little better than the day before.