Thank you for your help in support of our Early Literacy Outreach program, which is now delivering our Raising A Reader program to 50 isolated children not enrolled in preschools or other formal childcare settings. We are thrilled to report that children and their parents in three communities are now meeting weekly after church or in their local library to exchange book bags and participate in a story-time session. We also are providing guidance to these parents on techniques to build a literacy-rich home environment. Thanks to your support, outreach programs are now active in Rifle, Basalt and Glenwood Springs, and we are working on new programs for Parachute and Carbondale.
Raising A Reader – Aspen to Parachute began this outreach program in fall 2010 with a cohort of families participating at St. Stephen’s Church in Glenwood Springs. Marena, one of the parents, summed up that first year with this comment: “I now realize the importance of reading to my child. I am very grateful to Raising A Reader because I've noticed my daughter is very excited to start school! She tries to read her books herself and then tells the stories to her cousins.”
You might be interested to hear that our larger program is now reaching 100 classrooms and nearly 1,700 rural children in the Roaring Fork Valley and upper Colorado River Valley. We are growing because the program works. Last year, in kindergarten readiness testing done by the school district based in Rifle, we learned that 39 percent of children entering kindergarten require intensive intervention to be adequately prepared for success. For the Raising A Reader cohort, that number dropped to just 21 percent.
Additionally, we have made tremendous progress as a community. In Garfield County, 2011 third-grade CSAP reading scores are up substantially – from 63% proficient countywide in 2010 to 73% in 2011 in its two largest school districts based in Glenwood Springs and Rifle. Those third graders were 3 years old when our program expanded county-wide six years ago. For Mayra, one of our Glenwood outreach parents, success is very personal: “My son now reads books in English and tells us the stories in Spanish, so it has helped with family bonding. He is turning 6 and I know he is better prepared for school. “
From all of us here in the Roaring Fork Valley region, thank you for your partnership. Together, we are working to ensure that every child enters kindergarten ready for reading success, in love with books and excited about learning.