Read Marfa

Read Marfa places a diverse group of community volunteers in classrooms to read aloud to children during their school day at Marfa Elementary in Marfa, Texas.

Read Marfa works to build community across the gap of new and local residents in a way that both local children and residents benefit from. 
Marfa is a rural city in the Chihuahuan Desert of the Trans-Pecos in western Texas just North of Big Bend National Park. The city was founded in the late 1800’s as a railroad water stop which made it a necessary destination for many in the area. After growing quickly in the 19th’s century the town slid into a depression in the later 20th century (about 21% of the population is still below the poverty line). In the 1970’s, artist Donald Judd began purchasing buildings and installing permanent exhibitions of his artwork. This infusion of art started a wave of artists migrating to Marfa. Today a large population of artists, creators, and writers call this rural city home, creating a noticeable social gap between the local population and the newer residents.

Ann Marie Nafziger, a local artist, has teamed up with the literacy specialist at Marfa Elementary to organize and train local volunteers to come in and read to children.  

Ann Marie Nafziger, a local artist, has teamed up with the literacy specialist at Marfa Elementary to organize and train local volunteers to come in and read to children.  

Positive community impact through reading aloud.

Read Marfa allows Marfa residents, children and local volunteers to build strong new relationships as well as achieve literacy goals. Reading out loud to children helps with early language development, create a positive association with reading, and helps to build a stronger foundation for success in school. Not all children are read to or even have books at home from which someone could read to them. Read Marfa gives children the time and resources to be read to during school. 

At Marfa Elementary we got to see first hand how the kids lit up with excitement being read to by volunteers. The atmosphere was warm and caring and new and the impact on the kids was apparent. They were bursting with curiosity and intrigue. Hearing new ideas from new grown-up faces is purely magical in this environment. This program is an essential learning tool in Marfa now, especially where children might coming from homes where parents can't read to them every day, be it from conflicting schedules or language challenges. We left there imagining what an inspiring impact an idea like this could have if implemented all across America.

"Such an exciting project. Am so pleased to learn so many have volunteered. You are helping change the lives of the citizens of the future. It may not seem like much but it really is as you role model and build relationships across generations. You will be a stronger community for your investment of time." -Ella Nafziger

Read Marfa works to build community across the gap of new and local residents in a way that both local children and residents benefit from.

Both the children at Marfa Elementary and the community volunteers gain from this program in exponential ways. The children get to hear stories not just from the books they choose to read but from the volunteers themselves that expand their world beyond the walls of the school or the city lines of Marfa. Some of these volunteers have traveled or even come from another part of the world. Stories, accents and even just looking at someone different, opens up a child’s mind to all the possibilities available in life out in this amazing world. 

“I’m really intrigued by small, often overlooked moments of change – shifts that happen when we take the time to look, move beyond our comfort zone, try something new, or entertain a different perspective. This affects both the way I approach my artistic work - painting - and my work in the community; I learn every day about this very idea, both in my studio and out in the world. 
For me, community is inclusive - community is everyone who lives here, and being an active participant means choosing to engage with a diverse group of people. Its pretty fascinating, and compelling; We don’t have to agree on everything. I’m trying to be part of something larger than myself, not knowing, paying attention, and always learning from the moment and taking the next step. 
There’s a lot of strength in numbers. Its all about working together as a team, and recognizing that everyone has something to contribute.”
―Ann Marie Nafziger


“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”
― Andrew Carnegie


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!


“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Groucho Marx

Join something. Get involved. Learn more.

http://www.marfaisd.com/read-marfa/
http://www.visitmarfa.com/history.php#.WC9tNXeZOt8
http://www.reachoutandread.org/why-we-work/importance-of-reading-aloud/
http://onlinebookfairs.scholastic.com/teacherwishlist.aspx?teacherid=1288171
http://www.annmarienafziger.com/