Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kids! Of The Month – September 2012 – Tatiana Grossman

Tatiana Grossman, Amazing Literacy Advocate!
By Kasey Dallman

 

Quote of the month

“I started Spread the Words in 2008 so that I could encourage others to create libraries and increase early literacy in Africa as well.”

-Tatiana Grossman, 17-year-old literacy advocate

 

Tatiana (Tati) Grossman, 17-year-old Literacy Super Star

We are lucky that many of us have grown up in advanced communities where we learn to read early on! Reading expands our imaginations and catapults us into new worlds. Where would we be if we never traveled along side Harry Potter in his many adventures to defeat Lord Voldemort, if we never saw all those wacky tricks the Cat in the Hat performed, or it we never visited the magnificent land of Narnia?

That’s why we are so excited to introduce you to 17-year-old Tatiana Grossman, who started her own non-profit organization to increase the literacy rates in African children.

Continue reading to find out more about Tati’s work and how you can help increase the literacy rates across the world!

Tati Grossman, Literacy Super Star!

 

Spreading the first few seeds

The seeds for Tati’s non-profit organization were planted a few years ago when she learned of a book drive that a local elementary school was holding, with plans to donate the books to schoolchildren in Africa. After researching, Tati found out that an astounding 75% of children in some African countries don’t know how to read.

The literacy crisis sparked Tati’s interest right away.  “I immediately took action, and soon after I started a book drive on the lawn of my community’s county library,” she said.

But Tati never expected what would happen next! After just 10 days, she had collected 3,500 books from the community. Enough to start three libraries! “I went to friends and neighbors first for books, went to book sales, and picked up books from people’s homes,” Tati recalled. With help from The African Library Project, the books she collected were paired with the libraries that were in need of books.

At the age fo 12, Tati set up in front of the Palo Alto Children’s Library asking the community for used children’s books.

 

Spreading the word to countless people

Tatiana’s non-profit organization, Spread the Words, was founded in 2008 to increase the literacy rates in Africa, as well as inspire others to create libraries across the globe.

“I couldn’t imagine a life without books,” Tatiana said. Like Tati has experienced with her favorite novel Esperenza Rising, books opens our eyes to worlds we never knew existed. “I decided I could do something to help African children to learn to love books as much as I did.”

One of the most rewarding experiences for Tatiana was to travel to Africa where she was able to speak in front of thousands at a literary conference, as well as see the results of the libraries she created.

Tatiana remembered how the children “were incredibly warm, welcoming and appreciative. Once I drove into the school the kids ran behind the car and said, ‘I love you, Tati.’ ”

Students from Sebako Primary School in Kayne, Botswana, greet Tati. The Sebako library was started from books donated after Tati’s first book drive!

Some of the kids who benefitted from Tatiana’s libraries even wrote her letters about how much they appreciate her and the books they can now read. These heartwarming letters can be viewed at http://spreadthewords.us/Thank%20you%20notes.html

One of many letters that Tati received from Batswana children who benefit from one of Tati’s first libraries.

Since starting Spread the Words, Tati has shipped over 7,000 books to Africa. These books have started 17 libraries in 101 villages and schools.  Even more astounding, by working with others digitally and directly her numbers rise to sharing over 24,000 books that have started 32 libraries. Way to go!

Through Spread the Words, Tatiana encourages other people to start a library through the African Library Project. A perfect way to do this is to start a book drive, go to used book stories, and ask other sources such as schools and libraries for donations.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit Tatiana’s website at www.spreadthewords.us.

While Tati would love to see kids help her bring up the literacy rates in African, she encourages you to follow any and all passions that you have. “If kids want to make a difference, they should find something they love and share it with those that don’t have it,” she said.

 

Bringing books to the next level

In 2011 Tatiana won the World of Children’s Global Humanitarian Youth Award along with a grant for her remarkable efforts. Not only is the award an extreme honor, but it is also allowing Tati’s dreams to go digital! “The World of Children Award gives vital funding to people who have made significant contributions to children, allowing them to expand the reach of their endeavors,” she said.

Tati’s grant is going to be used to bring digital education to African classrooms.

With help from Silicon Valley, Tatiana is using her grant for solar-powered digital projectors. After loading them with reading textbooks, early readers, and instruction videos, Tati will send the electronic devices to African classrooms to provide them with the latest teaching technology! Tati’s device will not only help bring technology into the classroom, but it will also help teachers in Africa to not have to rely on only their memories to teach.

On Tatiana’s website, she has announced that Botswana Ministry of Education will be the first to receive and test her device. We can’t wait to see the results!

 

Honors and Awards!

For Tati’s humble and inspiring efforts, she has received the following awards:

  • World of Children Award, Prize for Child Advocacy Global Winner 2011
  • Youth Assembly at the United Nations, Recognition for Excellence 2011
  • International Children’s Peace Prize finalist 2010
  • California State Senate Certificate of Recognition 2011
  • Build-a-Bear Huggable Hero
  • Prudential Spirit of the Community Award (California distinguished high school finalist in 2010 and 2011)
  • Keynote Speaker at the International Literacy and Learning Conference in Botswana, Africa

Compassion in Action Award from the African Library Project

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