Go Green or Go Home

To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer – That is the Question August 27, 2013

Filed under: Education,Literacy — Mary @ 6:36 am
Tags: , ,

Hey everybody! You may or may not know this, but every staff member of Bonsai is required to complete one “large” assignment to help the world in real time over the course of a year and then post about it. As far as I know, this is the first one done. I asked Ceej (the lady in charge) if I could use volunteering at the library as my large assignment for helping people this year. I volunteered for 68.5 hours (I think), which may seem like a lot, but my friend McKenna got 101.25. Because she subbed for everyone. Almost.

What did I do while I volunteered? Well, there were two types of things you could sign up for – events and desk shifts. At the beginning of the summer, based on your availability, you were assigned certain desk shifts and recurring events. Throughout the summer, you could sign up for open slots at the desk and for events that occur only once, so you weren’t assigned to come beforehand.

Some events that were held included LEGO Club, Discovery Days, Wednesdays@1, Disc Golf in the Library, Teen Minute to Win It, Yarn Crafts, Origami, Fearless Crafters, READ to a Dog, Stuffed Animal Sleepover Party, and Give Peace a Chance. I volunteered at the LEGO Club (which happened over a span of four weeks), one Discovery Day, and Give Peace a Chance, while I attended Disc Golf in the Library and Teen Minute to Win It. When I volunteered, I would help set things up, pick things up, and help kids stay on task and give advice and at Give Peace a Chance I served cake.

The volunteers.

When you were at the desk, you would sit there (sometimes with another volunteer) and wait for people to sign up for the Summer Reading Program (SRP). Basically, you got their information, entered it into the computer & gave them their form, where they could fill in the boxes for the amount of time/pages they read. For the first two weeks, that was all you could do – sign people up and answer questions and associate yourself with your fellow volunteer. After those first miserable weeks, kids started coming back to collect their prizes, which you could get after you reached a certain checkpoint on your form. There were four prizes in all. You could give them Overtime Reading Tickets, tickets that would enter them in a random drawing for even more prizes (or you could forget about it and feel sorry for the child who missed a grand opportunity). There were 4 different programs: Preschool, K-5, 6-8, and High School-Adult. Each program gave you different prizes and different reading records and different amounts of time you had to read.

So that was how I spent my summer – reading, encouraging kids/young adults/adults to read books, serving cake, and building towers of LEGOs.

Does your library offer volunteering? Is there some other fun volunteering you could do in your community next summer? Think about it, and help your community! 🙂


Religious Literacy June 12, 2013

You probably know somebody from a different culture or set of beliefs. They may not celebrate the same holidays as you or have the same customs as you. You know the name of their religion, maybe some of the holidays they celebrate, but you probably don’t know the basis of their beliefs, their practices, or what higher being they worship, if they believe in one. And that’s where religious literacy ties in.

While looking for images that showed a diversity of religious standpoints, I found a lot of thought-provoking things that are sometimes tread lightly around, but I think I'll make posts on those later.

While looking for images that showed a diversity of religious standpoints, I found a lot of thought-provoking things that are sometimes tread lightly around, but I think I’ll make posts on those later.

What is religious literacy?

It’s knowledge about the different religions of the world and their practices. This includes the holy text, the laws that they live by, if they believe in a deity or god, and which one or ones they do, as well as other important facts. Someone who is religiously illiterate isn’t culturally enlightened, and may have trouble being open-minded. A lot of religion-based prejudice comes from a lack of understanding, therefore creating a lack of acceptance. Stephen Prothero wrote a book about it’s importance that inspired this post, which I plan to read sometime.


Why is it important to be religiously literate?

Not only will you be able to better understand the people around you, you will have a greater acceptance of people who believe different things. It will increase your cultural knowledge, and people will thank you for understanding and accepting their religion. As you learn more about different religions, you can help to erase the misconceptions and narrow-mindedness. You will also be able to get in touch with your own spirituality (or lack thereof) and learn things about your religion’s history that you never knew. Or, you may decide that you do not want to be part of any category. It is an internally rewarding journey as well as one that will help you and others to understand.


How can you improve your ‘religious IQ’?

I’m taking a religious study class over the summer because I’m required to. (But seriously, I think it will be a very good opportunity for me to become more religiously literate, and the class is actually very interesting! Yes, though, I am required to by my school.) You can search online about different religions, purchase a book or check one out from your library, ask your friends about their individual customs, or attend a talk or workshop. I promise it will make a difference!


And finally, a shout out to the Bonsai ruler of religious literacy…

That’s right, Mary, I’m talking to you! We can’t thank you enough for inventing and taking on the project of Spotlight on Religion. It’s definitely enlightened us and the readers, and we eagerly await all the posts from that category!




Why Literacy is Amazingly Amazing February 27, 2013

Filed under: Lifestyle,Literacy — Mary @ 1:14 am
Tags: , , , ,

Do you love watching movies? Do you adore fangirling over TV shows? Well, have you ever considered that there are literary sources for everything? Have you ever thought that maybe the books are better than the movie?

Once there were two goats. They were eating a film canister. Then one goat turned to the other and said, “I liked the book better.”


Illiteracy (ignorance from not reading enough books HINT HINT) is a huge problem in our society today. Too many people are relying on the internet, movies, and TV shows to get their knowledge. They do not read very many books, and because of this, our generation and society is becoming less and less and less.

Why Literacy is Important

Literacy is important in our society because it helps us. First of all, it makes us not stupid (Therefore, intelligent!). Being un-stupid can be gratifying to us in many ways. Unless your parents are crazy rich and are ready to give you a 2 million dollar business to inherit, being un-stupid will help you get jobs. Jobs usually require some degree of intelligence,  unless you want to spend the rest of your days scrubbing dishes and sweeping floors. Secondly, literacy gives you a chance to rub in other people’s faces that you get a bunch of references they don’t. You can quote Harry Potter, Shakespeare, and Ray Bradbury without a single thought and others will look up to you and find you smart. It will also make your future employers think you’re smart, and then you get more jobs! (Why do I keep reflecting on jobs? They help you, as well as the economy.) Lastly, literacy helps you become more creative. It will help you come up with new ideas to industrialize the world, or just write a book that makes people smile. Literacy is a very import and underrated skill to have these days, and it is slowly slipping away from us.

Why Being Illiterate is “Bad”

You might think that this is going to be the opposite of why literacy is important, and you can interpret it that way if you wish. Yes, it’s true that if you’re illiterate you don’t get good jobs and you don’t get to quote Shakespeare for your English teacher, but it’s also true that it will come back to bite you in the butt many times, maybe every day. You might not be “good enough” for your significant other. You might not be “smart enough” to keep any friends. You will have to live with your parents for your entire life, until they kick you out and you have to live in a “bad” apartment or on the streets. You don’t want to be lonely, depressed, poor, and an insult to society and economy, do you? That should be enough.

How do I Become More Literate?

You become more literate by finding books you enjoy! I strongly recommend, a place that gives you book recommendations based on what other books you’ve enjoyed in the past. You can also talk to librarians, friends, and look for authors you might have enjoyed in the past. And doing well in school never hurts!

I hope you are inspired to become more literate. :]

Mary, Author at Bonsai


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