First-grade students at Edgewood Elementary School recently had the opportunity to meet a real horse. Expresso, the horse, made a stop at the school as part of the school’s participation in The Horse Tales Literacy Project.
Students lined up on the school’s front lawn eagerly awaiting their chance to meet Expresso, after which each student was given a book, “Little Black, A Pony”, and a horse coloring sheet.
The goal of The Horse Tales Literacy Project, formerly known as The Black Stallion Literacy Foundation, is to help children discover the joys of reading and the excitement of learning through the wonders of live horses and the imagination inspired by books by Walter Farley. This program is available for students in the first and fourth grades and works to motivate children to know the joy of reading, resulting in their choosing to read, encouraging imagination and dreams that can become a reality.
“The first and fourth grades are the critical years for reading development,” said Mark Miller, co-creator of The Horse Tales Literacy Project. “If you don’t learn reading basics in first grade, you are going to fall behind. If you get through fourth grade able to learn a chapter book, it’s a watershed your chances of graduating high school and leading a happy life are pretty good.
The goal of the first-grade program is to spark the imagination of students so they will want to learn to read. Teachers are given a complete curriculum to follow and a field trip plan.
Upon completion of “Little Black, A Pony”, as well as activities related to the book, Edgewood Elementary first-graders will take a trip to Hestand Stadium on April 28, where they will have the opportunity to read to and learn how to care for a horse. When they return to school, they will visit the library and will be given the book, “Little Black Goes to the Circus,” to keep forever.
Bridget White, library media specialist at Edgewood, said the school had been considered for the program for years. “We had to get a grant and the Arkansas Community Foundation gave us the money,” she said.
About The Horse Tales Literacy Project
The Black Stallion Literacy Program (now The Horse Tales Literacy Project) is a non-profit, 501(c)3 foundation and was founded in 2000 by Tim Farley and Mark Miller in tribute to famed author, Walter Farley.
Farley’s books have been translated and published in more than 20 countries, sold millions and millions of copies and have been made into award-winning movies.
Children read these books, meet these real horses in person and experience hands-on activities related to their reading. The learning activities and objectives have been carefully aligned with state and national standards. The materials in the curriculum cover a wide range of disciplines — reading, language, arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, dance, and 21st century skills (technology).
Approximately 100,000 books have been given out to children in Arkansas.