Pajaro Valley Family
Raising A Reader has been delivering their evidence-based literacy program to rural communities all over the country. In 2005, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (USD) began implementing Raising A Reader in Watsonville, California, a rural community including migrant families with the highest poverty rate in the county.
Raising A Reader in Pajaro Valley has since shaped a path in the migrant community.
A RAR migrant program runs for 6 months, after which families leave to follow available harvesting work. During their stay, parents often work 12 hour days in the strawberry fields from dawn until dusk. Family time is limited and opportunities for engagement with children are minimal. Some of the families speak Mixteco, a dialect that has no written language. Other families have limited English and Spanish vocabulary and many cannot they read or write. Pajaro Valley USD knew that RAR would address the needs of the families and provide the resources for family engagement and early literacy skills for their children.
With your help, Raising A Reader has expanded the program and become a solution to a significant challenge that faces hundreds of families in Pajaro Valley. In 2016, 4,000 children ages 0-5 across 281 sites participated in the RAR program. There are 69 sites serving migrant families including center based migrant programs along with family child care homes.
Every year the staff of Pajaro Valley USD meets with the centers in April before the start of migrant season to provide refresher training for the educators. When the school district RAR staff visit providers, they bring posters and other resources depicting interactive reading as a helpful reminder for parents. Staff also demonstrate how to read without needing to “actually read” allowing parents to create new ways to use books with their children. Families are also encouraged to use the pictures to tell the stories to their children in their native language. The centers also provide monthly workshops where parents are given additional strategies along with facts about early brain development.
For the children in the migrant community Raising A Reader always provides something new.
Children get to experience different books on a weekly or biweekly basis. They become captivated by the illustrations and are excited to bring new books home to share with their families. In the fall, local sites host library connection events where families come to celebrate the completion of the program.
Because of your support, Pajaro Valley USD has successfully adapted Raising A Reader within their migrant program opening the door for areas across the state to adapt the program into their own migrant communities. From its beginning, Pajaro Valley USD has expanded every year to reach more children and plans to keep up the momentum for years to come!