March 25, 2011

Read for Japan part 2

After the disaster in Japan, we were talking with our children about what had happened, and about how God has given us so many blessings and that we would like to share with those who had lost so much.  We talked about ways we could help, and discussed ways we could earn money to send to our church's humanitarian aid fund, and came up with the idea to ask family and friends to pledge cents for pages read on a certain day.  You can read the letter I sent out, explaining how we came up with the idea here.

The day before, to prepare for our "Read for Japan" service project, the kids and I went to the library and checked out a bunch of chapter books and some picture books of Japanese folk tales.  We tried to find some nonfiction books about Japan but they were all out.  We also went to the grocery store and I let the kids pick out some snacks - granola bars, goldfish, dried mangoes, easter candy, etc . . .  The kids went to bed excited to start in the morning.

We started reading Wednesday morning at 8:30, since that is when we usually start our homeschool.  I had printed out a couple of scriptures on service, and the kids and I recited them and talked about service.  We hung up a sheet of paper to record the books read, and the kids picked out a reading spot and made it comfortable with pillows and piles of books to read.  I also had put up a list of all the people who had pledged money.  

I knew Maren would be able to read for long periods of time without stopping since that is what she does on a daily basis, but I was a bit concerned about Joshua's staying ability.  To help him, I devised a system that would provide snack incentives and also help us track minutes read.  When we were ready to start, I set the timer for 15 minutes, and when it went off, each child got a star sticker on a construction paper bookmark.  I had typed up a list of the snacks that we had bought and gave each snack a star value.  Some snacks (like apples) were free, and others cost between 1 and 6 stars.  I made the snacks that I didn't want them to eat too much of be more "expensive".  When they wanted a snack, I would cross off the stars it cost on their bookmark.  

Reading in 15 min. increment also allowed for Joshua to take breaks when he needed to and Maren could keep reading.  When he was ready to start again, he would wait for Maren's 15 min. to be done, and then he'd join in for the next 15 min.  There was a lot of enthusiasm and reading done before lunch, but I could tell the kids (especially Joshua) were starting to tire.  After lunch, the kids ran outside and played for a long while.  When the kids were ready to start again, I cut the prices for the snacks in half to help with motivation.  I also started taking turns reading with Joshua; I'd read out loud to him for 15 min. and then he'd read by himself for 15 minutes. 

Even though we didn't track his pages, Christopher
and I read lots of books together too 

Joshua stopped reading about 3 and Maren read until 3:30.  We figured this was a good stopping point since we had to leave for some afternoon activities.  I wrote down how many pages were read in the book they were currently reading and we added up our pages.  In the end, Maren and Joshua read 1, 276 pages, and at 47 cents a page, had raised $599.72 to give to our church's humanitarian aid fund to help with relief efforts in Japan.  I sent out an email to our friends and family who had pledged and let them know how many pages were read and thanked them again for supporting us in this effort. 

can you tell she's excited?

Maren said: "I know it was doing good service and I feel happy that we raised so much money to help the people who got afflicted by the earthquake and tsunami.  I'm glad that people donated money to help.  I'm really glad we did it." 

I was happy to get my kids involved in service and get them thinking outside of self.   Reading books worked for my kids because that's something they like to do, but there are other things you can do as well.  My friend Bryn is doing a project baking and selling cookies with her girls.  You can try either of these projects or find something that fits well with your kids. 

Again, a big thank you to all who pledged and helped my kids feel the joy that comes from serving others.  

"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17


  1. Did Maren really use the word "afflicted?!" This was really a neat project your children will never forget. We're so proud of you and our terrific grandkids!
    Grandma Liz

  2. yes, that's a word for word quote.

    and thanks mom. :)