Read Aloud Program
If you get them to read, you can get them to be scholars. - Paul Langan, Author Bluford Series
If we could get our parents to read to their
preschool children even just fifteen minutes a day,
we could revolutionize the schools. - Helen Love, Former Superintendent Chicago Schools
The single most important activity for building knowledge — for eventual success in reading
is reading aloud to young children. - The National Commission on Reading
But how can you read to your child if you don't have any books?
A large number of Bay Area children do not have books or other literature written
for children in their homes and live with parents who are not accustomed to
using libraries. These children enter school severely less prepared to learn
to read than many of their peers.
An ongoing goal of our project is to work with other organizations to encourage
parents to read to their children. Through our Read Aloud Program we have given
thousands of books to programs that are actively promoting reading aloud and
need children's books to give to families who cannot afford to buy them. As
part of our Read Aloud Program, in 1998 we initiated a coalition of San Francisco
Bay Area organizations that are particularly concerned with encouraging parents
to read to their very young children.
Our Read Aloud Coalition meets regularly to discuss parent training methods
and to exchange information, including places where parents are able to go to
learn to read. We also choose titles of books for Children's Book Project
to purchase. (The Children's Book Project does not receive enough donated books
written for infants and toddlers, multicultural books or books written in Spanish
or Chinese to meet the needs of the many hundreds of families served each month
by our Read Aloud Coalition.) All of the participants work directly with families
with very young children and most make regular home visits.
At the end of our Coalition meetings, Children's Book Project provides both
new and used books for the participants to select and give to families. During
home visits, the caseworkers and nurses stress to parents the importance of
sharing books with their children and give them suggestions on ways to do this.
They then give the parents books to read. The pediatricians give books to parents
during office visits. Books are also given to parents during parenting workshops.
Presently ten organizations, in addition to Children's Book Project, participate in our Read Aloud Coalition. Seven of these organizations
are located in San Francisco — Asian
Perinatal Family Support Services, Golden Gate Regional Center (with services in San Mateo and Marin),
Homeless Prenatal Program, SFUSD Hilltop Pregnant Minors Program, Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project (TAPP) and YES WE CAN Urban Asthma Partnership at SFGH and Youth Community Developers. The two remaining
organizations are Berkeley Public Health and Unity Council Early Head Start in Oakland.
The feedback we receive about our Read Aloud Program has been very
gratifying. Parents are reading the books to their children. Many parents,
a great deal of whom are teenagers, have said that reading aloud has also helped
their own reading skills. Participants in our Read Aloud Coalition tell us
that having books to give as gifts helps to build a trusting relationship between
their clients and themselves. The books also provide an incentive for parents
to come to workshops.
For years through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Children's
Book Project was able to provide funds for Bay Area children to take a trip to
a local book store and select and purchase their own books. For many, this was
their first time visiting a bookstore. Being able to select books of personal
interest and take them home provides an incentive for reading for these children
who often have no books of their own in their homes. This was a very successful program. We would love to have someone bring it to life again.
Books for Youth Program
Learning to read requires practice. The goal of this program is to help
older boys and girls improve their reading skills by providing them
with books and other reading materials that match their interest. Nationwide, the Bluford Series is at at the top of many lists. With topics, themes and situations chosen to engage students' real-life experiences, the books are more likely to keep students' interest. The idea, educators say, is to whet their appetites for a far broader array of literature
These valuable programs could be expanded with additional funding.
donations are welcome.