Bridging the Divide Through Reading & Writing Literacy

National Service-Learning Project: A Global Call to Action

Join participants from near and far in addressing the “million word gap”.

NYLC, Missouri State University, and Study Alternative Center invite you to join participants from near and far in addressing Sustainable Development Global Goal 4: Quality Education. This Global Call to Action engages students as readers, as authors, and as illustrators. Inviting everyone to share their favorite book, their own experiences, cultures, and histories through storytelling. This project will grow as more people contribute.

There is no deadline to participate.

Illustrations of a tree and birds and a cute animal saying "wooo!"This project is designed to address universal literacy and numeracy through service-learning. Research has shown that reading stories out loud to children is key to developing their early literacy skills. New research suggests that to engage children, we need to bring those plots to life, ask reflection questions, and spark their interest.

An example of a story with illustrations.

Join Missouri State University faculty and service-learning students who are already involved

  • 1-credit service-learning students from UHC, SPE, SOC, and other academic disciplines
  • Bear Power students from Cohort 1 and 2 - writing and creating their own books to share with children
  • CFD 454 and CFD 560 service-learning students
  • Students from International Studies

Bear Power interns work on stories for the project
Bear Power interns work on writing and illustrating stories for the project.

Image of Christina Isom with a YouTube button icon
CFD student, Christina Isom, talks about her work with kindergarteners and their illustrated stories.
See Christina's guide for kindergarten activities

How it works

Students work either independently or in teams selecting one or more of the following four options:

Option 1: Select a book and read aloud to a group of children.
Option 2: Write a story and share it with others.
Option 3: Illustrate and record a reading of the story.*
Option 4: Bring your story to life through Reader Theater. *

For students opting to record their own story, the recording should be uploaded to their YouTube channel then submitted to the global project via this form.

Missouri State University's service-learning office, in partnership with NYLC and Study Alternative Center, will develop a playlist that can be accessed by parents, educators, and children across the world.

Educators are encouraged to connect this service-learning project to student learning outcomes such as:

  • English Language Arts Standards
  • Grade-level standards of Arts
  • Social-emotional learning standards
  • Four C’s of civic education

Use the IPARD system tabbed below to help guide your project

I - Investigation


1. Research and learn about the important of childhood reading, discuss with your instructor why you want to participate in the project
2. Select your service-learning project from one or more of the four options below:

Option 1. Select a favorite book and read aloud to a group of children.
Option 2. Write a story and read it to others.
Option 3. Illustrate your story and record yourself reading the story for YouTube: Use this form
Option 4. Bring your story to life through "Reader Theater."

3. Determine which age group to read to from the list below
  • Ages 0-12 months
  • 12 to 24 months
  • 24 to 36 months
  • 3 to 4 years
  • 5-7 years
  • 8-10 years
4. Get to know your audience. If you are selecting a book to read or creatively thinking about a book to write you might do some research about the age group you want to tell your story to. Here are some questions to think about:
  • What do kids that age like to read about?
  • What words should I use when writing my story?
  • Are the words too challenging or not challenging enough for the reader?
  • What colors or images will engage them if I am illustrating my book/story?
What messages are age appropriate for the age group I’ve selected? Determine your “Big Idea” if you decide to Write Your Own Story:
  • What do you want to write about?
  • What do you feel is important to write about?
  • Who will want to read about this story/subject?
  • Will you be able to carry out this idea effectively?

P - Planning


1. Determine roles: (writers, readers, illustrators, tech wizards, performers, etc)

Everyone has something they can contribute to a service-learning project. What are your strengths or what skills do you want to develop? Assign roles and responsibilities that create a great team.


A Bear Power intern developing his book.

2. Develop a project plan
  • What will it take to complete the project?
  • What are the deadlines?
  • Who is responsible for each task?
  • When and where will you meet?
3. Create a budget - if needed
4. Secure permissions
  • For those on camera
  • For use of equipment
  • Other permissions and releases as needed

A - Action


Create, read, record and serve your identified age group through reading, writing, and performing. Get creative and have fun.

Remember, if you write and record a reading of your story (service-learning project Option 3) you can write a synopsis of the book and reflection questions that parents, educators, or others can use when sharing your story. Then upload your recording to YouTube (school site or your own) and then share the recording, synopsis and reflection questions with us by submitting the form.

An example of a story showing the creation process.

R - Reflection


Reflect as a class, team, or individual. A few example reflection questions may include:

  • What did you learn from this experience?
  • What worked well?
  • What would you change?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • About others?

D - Demonstration


Share your experience on the Bridging the Divide through Reading and Writing Literacy Padlet. Here you can reflect with others from across the globe about your experience.

Contact Information

Katherine Nordyke

Thank you for participating

We encourage you to visit the NYLC and MSU website’s often to see what others have contributed to this project, to use it as a resource, and to contribute new ideas and stories. The idea for this project stems from discussions related to the Missouri State University 2021-2022 public affairs theme of Bridging the Divide and the service-learning project created by the students and staff at Study Alternative Center

Together, we can create stories that represent the views, cultures, and experiences of people globally that engage the world’s children in learning

Missouri State University explores a new topic annually. Bridging the Divide is the theme for the 2021-2022 Public Affairs Conference. This project is in partnership with Missouri State University’s office of Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL), the Center for Writing in College, Career and Community (CWCCC), the office of Public Affairs Support and the division of Public Affairs and Assessment.

Share your experience on the Bridging the Divide Through Reading and Writing Literacy Padlet.

In partnership with:

NYLC logo

alternative study center logo