Sisters Read BY AHMAD NURRIDDIN
PHOTO (C) AHMAD NURUDDIN
PHOTO (C) AHMAD NURUDDIN
ronx, N.Y. Democratic Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner’s “Sisters Read” Summer Challenge was enthusiastically embraced at Brooklyn’s Masjid Nur al-Islam. Joyner’s first annual Summer Challenge, “Read-to-Succeed,” which focused on educational opportunity and increasing literacy, urged students to read on a regular basis during the summer and recognized those who read for 15 minutes or more per day for at least 40 days. Assembly woman Joyner and the girls. At the mosque, she patiently interacted with approximately 20 young girls, aged 2 to16, for a two-hour was elected to represent the 77th AsA younger reader at the masjid. spirited session. Exhibiting great joy and sembly District in the New York State compassion as she sat cross-legged on Assembly. She challenged the students, “Use reading to gain the confidence to the mosque floor, she encouraged them express yourself. Use your words to get to share the benefit of reading before they took turns reading aloud. This speyour point across and communicate with cial session, inspired by Joyner’s proother people.” She went on to inform gram, was timed to persuade a focused them, “I used to be shy, and now my return to school. job is to talk to people.” One by one the young participants Unique among politicians, she took the microphone to share why they reached out for a meeting so that she liked to read. Joyner introduced herself could personally hear the community’s and then read several paragraphs from concerns. And she didn’t come empty-handed — she brought books to set the stage for Sisters Read. Imam Amara Kenneh termed Sisters Read “a very beautiful WE MUST INSTILL THE NEED program that helps children improve their educational progress.” OF READING AND EDUCATION He said, “the masjid has a very beautiful relationship with Assemblywoman Joyner” and added that “she is doing her duty as a EARLY IN A CHILD’S LIFE. BY community leader; she is giving extra mileage.” DOING THIS, EDUCATION CAN AND Joyner’s passion for reading wasn’t lost on her assistant Isatou Kujabi, who set up Sisters Read. She shared her experience of WILL OFFER THE TOOLS NECESSARY coming to this country from Gambia in 2005, admitting that she FOR OUR CHILDREN TO PROGRESS cried the first time she was asked to read aloud. She also confessed, AS LEADERS IN SOCIETY.” “Anytime I knew that we had Reading, I would miss class to avoid reading. But once I started college, I had no choice but to face my —Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner fears and start reading.” Joyner closed the session by promising to take the students “The Lowdown on the High Bridge” — a fact-filled children’s book on a field trip — to the High Bridge, of course. For her, “the most about New York City’s longest standing bridge. The youngsters were memorable part of Sisters Read was having a two-year-old girl read very attentive and eager to participate. The High Bridge, which is a passage from her favorite book. It was an experience and memory located in the Bronx, began as an aqueduct in 1846. It reopened in that I will always hold onto because it serves as an inspiration to June 2015 after having been closed for more than 40 years. our youth, as they lead us into the future.” Attendee Laqoya Torre, 16 proclaimed, “I like to read because Her message to parents: “We must instill the need of reading it teaches you new experiences and helps you cope with certain and education early in a child’s life. By doing this, education can things that are happening around you.” and will offer the tools necessary for our children to progress as Mawata Kenneh, 11, remarked, “Reading will help me to become leaders in society.” Joyner also hosted a garden party celebration for young readers a doctor, because doctors read.” Seventh-grader Aicha Coulibaly stated, “Reading keeps me motivated and is interesting.” Her younger at the Target Bronx Community Garden, a New York Restoration sister, second-grader Mariame who also dreams of becoming a Project. doctor, added, “Reading is interesting.” Joyner, previously a New York City Civil Court staff attorney, Ahmad Nurriddin is a community worker.
ISLAMIC HORIZONS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016