Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Books + Horses = Lucky 1st Graders!

One of the things I greatly enjoy are dispatches from the old hometown. My parents often send me newspaper clippings of various things or they'll alert me to something of interest in the online version of the local paper, usually it's something relating to an old friend or cause I used to be involved with.

Obviously from my previous posts here, I love books and I love horses, and I especially love books about horses. And to any horse-loving child, the books of Walter Farley are like peppermints to ponies. From the original The Black Stallion in 1941, all the way up until 1989's The Young Black Stallion which Farley wrote with his son, Steven, the series maintained a consistently high standard for its young readers. If you didn't read these classics as a child, it's not too late, you'll no doubt find them in your local library.

So to tie these two loose ends together, the aforementioned hometown paper, The Rochester Post-Bulletin, ran a story over the weekend about two area horses who are going to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Rochester Regional Equestrian Center. The RREC will then use the money to partner with the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation to provide two hardcover books to each first-grader at a local elementary school. Riverside Central, the school that would initially benefit from this program, is in the city and has a fairly large immigrant student population. What a great opportunity for city kids, many of whom are not likely to ever get to really spend any time with horses, to possibly be inspired by the these noble creatures. The article goes on to note:

"I've seen firsthand how children bond and relate to horses," said Carol Fosdick, chair of the RREC auction, who has given riding lessons for 10 years. "This program is a definite win-win situation for all beginning readers and their schools."

In the spring, the students would be taken to a local barn to learn more about horses -- how they eat, how they are cleaned and taken care of, and how the tack, such as saddles, bridles and bits, are used. They will even read to the horse, an experience supporters say leaves an indelible impression on young people and fuels a life-long interest in reading."

The full piece by Matthew Stolle is HERE.

The BSLF (check out their website at www.bslf-online.org) has a great mission..."The Black Stallion Literacy Foundation helps children discover the joys of reading and the excitement of learning through the wonders of live horses and Walter Farley's Black Stallion books." What a great way to get kids to read and appreciate animals and the bonds we forge with them. Any time you can get books into the hands of children it's a recipe for success.

The RREC's website also provides lots of good info about this upcoming wine-tasting and fundraiser for the project. They're at www.rrec.info. Also take a look at the two Thoroughbreds that are being auctioned off, one out of Ghazi, one of Minnesota's leading Thoroughbreds. Both are gorgeous and Rushford, won a great race at Canterbury with superb Minnesota jockey Dean Butler in the irons. Their info can be viewed HERE.

What a nice way to begin a Tuesday morning, horse books for lucky 1st graders, new homes for some Minnesota Thoroughbreds and a literacy foundation working hard for horses and kids. Wins all the way around.

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