United Way News
The Raising a Reader program's mission is to foster healthy brain development, parent-child bonding and early literacy skills critical for school success by engaging parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” with their children for birth to age five.
Most parents want their child to be well prepared for success in school and they know that learning to read is one of the most important skills that their child will need to succeed. What they may not know is how important but easy their role is as a parent. Parents don’t need fancy toys or expensive computer programs to engage their children. Their mind, their voice, their ideas and their love is what their children need to reach their potential.
Each week, Raising A Reader children (or parents) bring home a sturdy red bag filled with four high-quality, developmentally- appropriate, multicultural children’s books. Over the course of the program year, they are exposed to a wide range of titles, providing them with both a mirror reflecting their own world and a window to the world beyond. Through initial training and ongoing support, Raising A Reader parents—even those with limited English proficiency or low literacy skills—learn how to engage their children in storytelling with picture books. The program includes an introduction to the public library, setting up families for a lifetime of book enjoyment.
Raising A Reader is cost-effective because the bags and books remain the property of the agency delivering the program and can be used year after year. The program can be started for approximately $100/child, and the average cost per child served over a five-year period is $35.
The Raising A Reader theory of change consists of five anchor behaviors that lead to desired changes of family bonding, early brain development and school readiness.
• Children drive the process and the red book bags and books become a favorite toy;
• Program professionals learn how to train parents in interactive read-aloud strategies and early brain development;
• Parents learn and engage in read-aloud strategies and develop a regular routine of book cuddling;
• The weekly book bag delivery system is turnkey—a simple, sustainable routine that is easily managed in a number of diverse settings;
• Families start to use their local library for an additional source of high quality reading materials;
Why is this so important?
• children in the program will benefit from healthy brain development,
• family bonding,
• early literacy skills.
• Children enter kindergarten with a love of books and ready to learn to read.
As of June 2013 over 300 children participated in the Raising a Reader program through three child care centers and ten home providers throughout Weld County.