A group of Brooklyn third graders recently thought deeply about paying it forward – and in the process learned about the transformative power of performing a kind act for someone in their community.
If you’re familiar with Behind the Book already, you’ll know that we integrate our literacy programs into existing curricula, working closely with teachers to choose a book and an author that will match a class. For a third-grade class in PS 46 in Fort Greene, we worked with a group studying world cultures. Their unit of study on Africa led us to partner them with author Page McBrier to teach her popular book, Beatrice’s Goat.
The book is the true story of a young girl in Uganda who wants nothing more than to go to school. Beatrice is from a large family and is concerned that her parents can’t take on the cost of an education. But when they receive a goat from Heifer International, they sell the goat’s milk for money that sends Beatrice to school and buys her books. Beatrice and her parents are then generous enough to give the goat’s very first offspring to another family in need of livestock.
The author, Page, told the story of her travels to Beatrice’s village in Uganda, and all the research that went into the book. The students continued in their cultural study beyond our program, by making African-inspired art and crafts, and learning traditional dance. The class then held an African bazaar to showcase the food, music, and dance they had learned, and to raise money by selling the items. The third graders then chose to donate the $800 they raised at the bazaar to Heifer International, to help other children like Beatrice.
The class then got an extra special treat when Beatrice Biira herself came to the class to accept the donation. Beatrice is now a young woman who holds a position with Heifer International as their Community Engagement Coordinator. She and Page have stayed in touch since the book was written more than 12 years ago.
We’re really proud to display the final writing project, a published book about paying it forward: