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UMC clergywomen urged to read at local schools

As part of Women’s History Month, the Rev. Dr. Sheila Elliott is encouraging clergywomen to participate in a “Read-In” at their local schools.

There are multiple goals for the effort, said Rev. Elliott, pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Lake City.

“One goal is to have young women and young men meet and just know there is such a thing as a clergywoman,” she said. “Another is to encourage young girls and follow up on our Million Book Effort.

“But a really simple goal is to build some connection with our communities.”

Rev. Elliott

Rev. Elliott is urging clergywomen across the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church to call their local schools and volunteer to read to students.

“We’re hoping that – especially at the elementary level – it will become a fun thing to do once a month or once a week,” she said, “something to build a connection between that pastor and the local school and, eventually, between the church and the school.”

Rev. Elliott also recommends that United Methodist clergywomen invite non-UM clergy to join them in the effort.

In addition to this effort, she is planning an African-American Read-In next year, in which local children and their parents would be invited to Wesley Chapel on a Saturday to read books, talk about what they’ve read, and participate in other fun learning activities. Parents will be encouraged to attend and learn about literacy efforts and the importance of reading early on in a child’s life.

“We want to help young kids develop a desire and love for reading,” Rev. Elliott said. “If you love to read, that opens up whole pathways for future learning and help them in science and math and thinking critically.

“We want to do anything we can to get them up from in front of the television and video games and make what’s in the books come alive and be relevant to their lives.”

What to read?

Rev. Elliott has developed a recommended reading list for clergywomen who want to participate. Many can be found in public libraries, if they are not available in ministry context or commercially.

  • “I Am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai
  • “The House That Jane Built,” by Tanya Lee Stone
  • “Amazing Grace,” by Mary Hoffman
  • “The Lions of Little Rock,” by Kristin Sims Levine
  • “I am Jane Goodall,” by Brad Meltzer
  • “The Story of Rosa Parks,” by Patricia A. Pingry
  • “The Otherside,” by Jacqueline Woodson
  • “Sheila Rae, The Brave,” by Kevin Henkes
  • “Rosa,” by Nikki Giovanni
  • “The Paper Bag Princess,” by Robert Munsch
  • “Free to Be…You and Me,” edited by Marlo Thomas
  • “The Wonderful Things You Will Be,” by Emily Winfield Martin
  • “How the Stars Fell into the Sky,” by Jerrie Oughton
  • “Girls Can Do Anything,” by Mayanna Foelz
  • “The Skin You Live In,” by Michael J. Tyler
  • “Wilma Unlimited,” by Kathleen Krull
  • “A Chair for My Mother,” by Vera Williams
  • “Miss Rumphius,” by Barbara Cooney
  • “Grace for President,” by Kelly DiPucchio
  • “Not All Princesses Dress in Pink,” by Heidi E. Y. Stemple and Jane Yolen
  • “Imogene’s Last Stand,” by Candace Fleming
  • “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon,” by Patty Lovell


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