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Children’s stories used to end with, “And they lived happily ever after.” You have been making that promise come true for thousands of children in Dona Ana County one book, one child, one family at a time.
More parents than ever make story time a cherished part of family routines. Together we have put thousands of books into the hands of children who have never before owned a book. For many children, their happy-ever-after futures are more likely because reading is the cornerstone of educational achievements.
The pandemic shows us how fragile that future can be. Interruptions in daily school attendance marginalize struggling readers and poor children the most. Keeping kids reading while they are stuck at home will make the single biggest difference in how they maintain their skills during these next few months.
At Children’s Reading Alliance, our phone is ringing. A dad calls desperate for strategies. Moms worry that their children are becoming tired of virtual school and losing the enthusiasm they had only recently developed for choosing books as entertainment.
Community outreach groups are coming to us for books they can add to the critical supplemental packages they deliver in the most impoverished neighborhoods.
Our undaunted volunteers are figuring out ways to offer their services using Zoom as a substitute for hands-on mentoring. Community actors, writers and professors are remaking the old-timey family style radio show format into a high-tech approach for teaching critical thinking/listening/reading skills using children’s literature.
Together, we can make sure all stories begin with “Once upon a time our community made sure every child kept reading and learning, even when school was interrupted.”
With your help, we can fight illiteracy and equip children and families with reading strategies that will last a lifetime. Your contribution, at whatever level you are able, will make a lasting difference.
Ways you can help:
One more thing: Reading is good for you, too. As we brace for the disappointment of a socially distanced holiday season, remember books make great companions. Let your favorite authors indulge your fantasies. Live vicariously through the adventures of characters you haven’t met. Renew friendships with old tomes. Revisit that required reading list from high school and discover the wisdom you slept through the first time.
Merry reading to all!
Rorie Measure is president emeritus of Children's Reading Alliance, a grassroots initiative to encourage family literacy throughout Doña Ana County. She is a reader, writer, teacher, reading specialist and literacy trainer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.