Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children

by Raising A Reader
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Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children
Provide Vital Literacy Programs for US Children

Raising A Reader is implemented across the country at a variety of agencies. Make Way for Books (MWFB) is an early literacy organization in Tucson, Arizona that understands access to books is essential to developing basic reading skills, leads to longer and more frequent shared reading between parents and children, and produces increased enjoyment of books and improved attitude towards reading and academics. They have been utilizing the Raising A Reader program to fulfill their mission and have a positive impact on the families in their community. Each year, MWFB serves more than 30,000 children and families and 700 educators.

We'd like to share a story about a boy named Silas. Silas and his mom Melissa have been participating in the Raising A Reader program through Make Way for Books for three cycles. She had these incredible words to share about Silas' experience with his educator, Fernando:

"Silas is so excited to bring home his bag of books and when people come over her likes to drag his bag across the living room and into someone's lap to have them read to him. Every Friday when I tell him its time for book club he gets so excited to go.

What I have not told you is that Silas was born prematurely and is a bit slower than other kids his age, but I think this program is helping him reach the goals that we are striving for [in his development]. I think that one of the reasons why we love coming to Raising A Reader so much is your staff. Fernando Gonzalez is an amazing person!!! He has been at all our book clubs that we have attended with you and Silas loves him. When we were at our 1st session Silas was shy and did not want to go to other people; however, he warmed right up to Fernando and wanted to be with him all the time.

Fernando is such a kind loving person to the kids at book club and helps the parents understand why the things he says helps our children. He is excellent at teaching us parents new techniques to work on with our children and that it’s ok for us to get frustrated when our children don't do what we expect them to do. He is very helpful in us understanding why our children act the way they do and in helping us to learn how to get them motivated to do the activities we are attempting. Every child in our group loves Fernando as do the parents! Thank you for having such a wonderful employee, and for allowing him to be a part of our children's lives, Silas says thanks too!!!"

It is stories like these, and children like Silas, that demonstrated the impact reading and family engagement can have on a child. Raising A Reader is proud of the remarkable work Make Way for Books is carrying out, and grateful for staff like Fernando who truly care and live the mission of both Make Way for Books and Raising A Reader.

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Just over five years ago Calhoun Intermediate School District (Calhoun ISD) brought Raising A Reader (RAR) to the Battle Creek, Michigan community. The program has grown from 20 sites to 90, reaching 6,030 children. While the main focus of Calhoun ISD’s RAR program is reaching children 0-5 years old, they have expanded to serve children through the second grade in after school programs.

Calhoun ISD serves a large number of Burmese families who have moved to the area in the last few years as refugees along with a large number of Japanese families who are in Battle Creek for temporary work assignments. In fact, with RAR’s help Calhoun ISD has been able to provide a selection of books published in both English and Burmese in addition to RAR books that have been translated with the help of local Burmese organizations. The Burmese text is added to the books on clear labels which are adhered to each page next to the English text. These Burmese books are now rotated within the majority of locations.

The amazing work being done in Battle Creek has truly been that of a community effort.

A local Lion’s Club hosts an annual spaghetti dinner to benefit RAR in their community. It was at this dinner that a gentleman from the club made an introduction of the RAR coordinator to his wife, a bus aide for a special needs school bus. This connection led the students on her bus to now receive the RAR program.

A mother, whose two daughters participated in RAR, was such a fan of the program that she joined the team at Calhoun ISD to help further the work being done in the community. Her oldest daughter received a special award for reading more books than anyone else in her class, while her youngest daughter delights in reading her memorized favorite “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear.” The staff at Calhoun ISD feels so strongly about RAR, not only because of the community involvement and family enjoyment, but because they have four years of data proving that it is having a positive and beneficial impact for the families of over 6,000 children.

The community involvement in Battle Creek has helped strengthen the integrity of RAR and maximize its reach. Calhoun Intermediate School District strives to reach all families and cultures in the community and look forward to what the future holds.
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It is the mission of The Seattle Public Library (SPL) to bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. So, when the library sought out an evidenced-based program in 2006 to support their family engagement initiative, Raising A Reader (RAR) was an ideal fit.

RAR engages families, provides tools to parents and caregivers to support school readiness, and has the potential to benefit the entire community.

Every step SPL makes with Raising A Reader involves deliberate growth. The Seattle Public Library began the RAR program in 17 preschools, reaching 220 children. 

During their ten year relationship with RAR, SPL has seen the offerings of RAR expand and grow. SPL started serving children as young as 18 months by implementing RAR in home visiting programs, Early Head Start, preschools classrooms, and recently expanding into a handful of kindergarten classrooms.

SPL now serves 1,237 children age 18 months to 6 years old. They look to add 3-5 community partners annually and reach as many families as they can.

Through supporters like you, the RAR program has become so visible in the Seattle community that families are reaching out to the library directly to see how they can get involved. 

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Pajaro Valley Family
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!

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Blue Bag Event in San Jose, CA
Blue Bag Event in San Jose, CA

Here at Raising A Reader the weeks leading up to summer mean one very special thing – it’s time for kids to graduate from the Raising A Reader program!

During this special time of year, thousands of blue bag events are held across the country to commemorate the completion of the Raising A Reader program. At blue bag events, children receive a Raising A Reader blue library bag to take home (and keep!) and use to carry books from the library. Events are held at school or the local library where teachers and librarians provide parents and children with information on their local library, inlcuding how to obtain a library card and more!

Thank YOU for making wonderful events like these possible!

It is because of donors like you that we are able to provide these vital opportunities for children to experience the joy of reading and develop a love of books. Thank you for making it possible for Raising A Reader to reach over 130,000 children across the country.       

While summer is known for fun in the sun, it is also a great time for children to visit their local library to keep the book sharing momemtum going during off-school time. Here are some HOT summer reading tips: 

1) After a visit to the library grab a blanket and read your books outside. 

2) Read a nonfiction book about nature and go out and explore.

3) Create artwork or crafts based on your favorite book.

4) Check your local library for summer reading programs and participate!      

Yours in book sharing, 

The Raising A Reader Team

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Organization Information

Raising A Reader

Location: Milpitas, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RARnational
Project Leader:
Noelle Colomé
Milpitas, California United States
$56,348 raised of $100,000 goal
1,351 donations
$43,652 to go
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