Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reading Across America with Sterling Elementary School

 A nation wide reading initiative would not be the same without participation from our public libraries; and like many libraries around our nation, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library supported Read Across America. Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program sponsored by the National Education Association. It is a call for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, which happens to be the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The outreach department celebrated reading with students at Sterling Elementary School.

We wanted the kindergarten students at Sterling Elementary school to celebrate reading beyond that day. Children should have access to books after the last school bell rings.  Our goal was to make sure each child had enough books to start a home library. The 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study states that students from homes with more than ten children's books had significantly  higher average reading score then students form homes with ten or fewer books. Each kindergarten student at Sterling Elementary school received three books, including a Dr. Seuss classic, to start their home library. Assistant Principal Kim Odom stated that during their last staff meeting, they discussed the students reaction when they received their books and one student was so happy, she cried! When we offered to give the students more books, Assistant Principal Odom replied, "Anytime we can get more books in their hands, we will do whatever is necessary to make it happen."

How and why does the public library give away books? Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has a vision to create opportunities for personal success in reading and learning for everyone. We are committed to building a highly literate and educated community. Working with our local school system and reaching out to young children, especially those identified as at risk, is a great way to reach this goal and make a positive difference in a child's life.

Outreach Coordinators hand out books for home library.

Now, how do we give away books, especially in these tough economic times when libraries are closing and reducing service hours? We depend on volunteers like you and other members of our community. Book give-a-ways, like the one at Sterling Elementary school are made possible by  community book drives. Books that are collected are distributed to children and families in need and they are used for our Community Book Shelf program. Interested in hosting a community book drive? Would you like additional information on our Community Book Shelf program, follow the "community book drives" link and start supporting your community and public library today! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jump Start-Reaching Out to Everyone

The Jumps Start Reading program is designed to bring awareness to the importance of early literacy and it is also designed to give low income families tools and resources to be successful in this area. For most of our sites, it is easy to introduce this concept, but when you work with families from different cultures, delivering this concept becomes a little more challenging. The Outreach Staff at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is up for the challenge!

The Outreach staff has an ongoing relationship and commitment to work with the growing refuge population in our community. During the second phase of our Jump Start reading program, we began to work with the refugee population by providing storytelling sessions, parent workshops, books and other resources to introduce early literacy concepts to families. Amy Kukla, a Jump Start Reading coordinator, describes her experience working with the refugee families:
I had one parent consistently come to all three workshops, and I saw growth in her reading with her son. In each workshop, I emphasized that they didn’t need to read English in order to share books with their children and taught how to ask questions and talk about the pictures, dialogic reading. In the first workshop, after the workshop material was covered, I asked Ayoai if she wanted to take time during the workshop to read to her son, who is 8 months old. She giggled, sounding embarrassed. She said that she would read to him at home. At the second workshop, the American volunteer who was at the workshop shared a book with her son, but Ayoai still didn’t interact. At the last workshop, before the workshop even began, Ayoai picked up one of the books I brought, let her son look at it, and named some of the pictures and letters in the book. I was so proud of her!
Jump Start Reading has the capacity to change lives. If Ayoai continues to read to her son, he will get the skills he needs to be successful in school. Ayoai was proud to admit that she is still reading with her son. The Jump Start reading program will connect Ayoai and her children with her local neighborhood library as well as give her fifteen books to begin a home library so that she can continue reading to her children for years to come.

Ayoai and her son