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

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