10-year-old Mahto loves traveling to different worlds every night by reading a good book. “I love adventure stories, like in the Marvel books.” Mahto attends White River Elementary on the Rosebud Reservation. As our Program Partner, the school is supported by the American Indian Education Fund (AIEF), a program of Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA). Through the AIEF Literacy service, students receive books and incentives to encourage a love of reading, as well as reading time with an older adult or mentor.
“Reading is important to learn new things,” says Mahto, who wants to work with animals one day. He excitedly shared a fact that he learned about his favorite reptile, the salt-water crocodile. “They keep their mouth open to increase their body temperature!”
“Reading is important to learn new things,” says Mahto, who wants to work with animals one day.
When Mahto first came to White River Elementary, his reading was delayed, according to Principal Cella. But with support from his teachers and the AIEF Literacy service, Mahto has advanced his reading level. “Some kids really struggle with reading,” Cella says. “But the more they read, the more comfortable they get, and Mahto has come miles.”
All 150 students at the school are eligible to take part in the Literacy service. Students may read any book they want at the appropriate reading level, and Cella says students show more interest when they have the creative freedom of choosing their own book. “In the long run, that freedom makes them better readers.”
While serving as principal for the past decade, Cella has seen a marked improvement from students when their support system includes their family. Parents and guardians are involved year-round with the school to plan celebrations for the students’ reading accomplishments.
Mahto is heading into the fourth grade, a time when American Indian and Alaska Native students are shown to score lower in reading than any other ethnicity. Your support of AIEF’s education services help address the unequal opportunities that hinder Native youth and keep students motivated in school.