This is a Rotoract project submitted for the Literacy Challenge. We will be collaborating on this project and the Early Childhood Literacy project Rotary After Work Submitted.
Learning to read and write doesn't start in kindergarten or first grade. Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Parents and grandparents play a very important role in preparing young children for future school success and helping them become self-confident and motivated learners. By age 2 children from low income families are already 6 months behind in language development. A study in 2017 revealed that just over 10% of Colorado children in kindergarten did not meet the minimum reading competency skills needed to succeed in elementary school.
Most people do not know that simply reading to very young children is not enough to develop the reading skills necessary to succeed in school. Successful techniques include talking about pictures, identifying colors and shapes, running fingers along words from left to right, creating voices as you read, making the story come alive by inflection and relating it to your own families or friends, asking questions about the pictures or story line, etc. Even non English speaking parents can use these techniques in picture books for the very young.
Our project will have 3 components:
1) Seminars: Our project will coordinate efforts with Children's Speech and Reading Center (CSRC) in Fort Collins. One of their programs is to provide community education and outreach programs in literacy development for parents and expecting parents. CSRC is Colorado's only 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on reading and speech development. We will coordinate these seminars with La Familia in Fort Collins, Women Infants and Children (WIC) in Larimer County and other organizations serving low income families and children. La Familia is an organization that provides quality child care, education and family strengthening services in Larimer County. WIC's goal is to provide nutrition education, healthy foods, and breastfeeding support. These organizations and others that we will collaborate with must serve low income populations.
These seminars will present easy, engaging, constructive and useful methods as described above to engage and promote reading literacy in their young children. These seminars can also be presented in Spanish.
2) Little Libraries / Red Bookcases: Our project will also focus on free access to age appropriate books in areas that young readers are found with their parent. Areas will include but are not limited to La Familia, Salud clinic, WIC, laundromats and the food bank. Access will be available through Little Free Libraries or Little Red Bookcases at these sites. The libraries and bookcases will be built or refurbished and painted by the shop students at Centennial High School or members of our clubs. Books will be purchased at garage sales, provided by CSRC and collected at community book drives. However, at some point these should be somewhat self sustainable in the future since the concept is take a book, leave a book.
3) Reading Challenges: The last component of our project is to hold a Reading Challenge. These age appropriate reading challenges will be focused on school age children. They will be challenged to read and as they reach milestones (# of books read or completing a BINGO challenge (similar to that seen below)) they can receive an award. Awards will include small toys or gift cards purchased and donated for the project.
We plan to have the seminars scheduled by early spring, the first community book drive to be held in early spring with 3 to 4 more by the end of the school year in May. Construction of the Little Libraries and Red Bookcases will start in January and completed and installed by the end of the spring semester.
Item # Item Total
CSRC Reading Seminars 3 Donated by CSRC
Garage Sale Books many $300.00
Prizes for Reading Challenge 110 $220.00
Bookcase / Little Libraries 6 $360.00
Total Program Cost $900.00
Rotoract Contribution $300.00
District Contribution $600.00