Did You See CJ?

May 23, 2018 | Laura Columbus

Did you happen to spot CJ at your local Hy-Vee, school, or maybe on the back of a city bus last month? CJ is the main character in Reading into Success’ (RiS) One 2 Read book this year, Last Stop on Market Street, by author Matt de la Peña.

As a new way to engage community members, cardboard cutouts of CJ appeared throughout our community. He encouraged everyone to take a selfie with him and share on social media to promote a culture of literacy, along with the message that literacy equals equity.

Equity for our children means giving each child the resources they need to thrive. Literacy is an essential life skill that links directly to how successful a child will be in the future. Providing access to the tools children need to learn to read and read to learn creates an equitable environment for all.

One 2 Read introduced CJ to every second grader in the Cedar Rapids, College Community, Linn-Mar, and Marion school districts and local parochial schools this year. In Last Stop on Market Street, CJ journeys across the city on the bus with his grandmother. He questions why he doesn’t have the same things others have, such as a car or an iPod, and why they go across town every week to a dirty neighborhood. His grandmother and the other passengers help CJ see the world in a new and beautiful way.

During his time in our community, CJ visited elementary schools, Hy-Vee stores, local libraries, and several Goodwill stores. CJ received many high-fives, and even a few hugs and kisses, as he traveled and returned to our offices with sore little hands. He also attended a PTA meeting at Johnson Steam Academy to help brainstorm ways the school can engage community members.

UWECI is one of more than 20 RiS partners working together to support children’s reading proficiency. One 2 Read represents one of many strategies the partners promote in the community to encourage reading.