The Black Stallion Literacy Program has a young readers program and an imagination celebration program. The mission of the young readers program is to create in young children the excitement of reading by combining a live horse experience with the reading of Walter Farley’s books, Little Black, A Pony, and Little Black Goes to the Circus.
Each student receives full color, hard cover copies of the books. Posters also stand in every classroom, and there is a live horse appearance at the school. Schools are supplied with the material in advance and the students begin to look forward to the program. Initially, a horse is brought to the school to interact with the children. During this learning experience, the children are told after learning to read the books; they can have their own personal visit with a horse. Once the child completes the assignment, they are asked to read their favorite part of the book to the horse handler. This is their own personal time with the horse as well as a reward for learning to read the book. Once the students have completed their time with the horse, they are given a certificate for another book, which they may redeem at any Barnes and Noble bookstore.
The objective of the imagination celebration program is to ignite in fourth grade students the excitement of the arts. They also use Walter Farley’s Black Stallion as the model for how they can translate the ideas of their imaginations to the reality of the arts.
The fourth graders also receive hard cover copies of The Black Stallion. In addition, they receive posters and access to the movie, The Black Stallion. They also get imagine notes containing facts, activities, and a poster of the Black Stallion. This project provides a fourth grade curriculum developed in conjunction with The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC and the Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD).
The curriculum includes study guides for the beginning of the book, screen play excerpts from the actual screen play, movie story boards sketches, and suggestions for art and writing contests. The children are taken through the process used in creating this story and movie and encouraged to express their own creative ideas in whatever form they choose. Each student also receives a free membership to the Black Stallion Fan Club, which includes a quarterly online newsletter.
The pilot projects for the young readers program have already confirmed that students who have participated in the Black Stallion Literacy Project’s young readers program have an increased enthusiasm for reading and learning. All the schools of the Fort Worth ISD that are involved in it have endorsed the imagination celebration program. During 2000, the volunteers of the Black Stallion Literacy Project were asked to participate with the ISD immediately after their statewide testing. In 2001, they have been asked to come shortly before statewide testing because of the students increased interest in all aspects of learning during and following their Black Stallion Literacy Project.