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What do cargo ships have to do with reading?


I’m learning how supply chains affect more than just buying toilet paper. This week, Tracy tried to make an appointment for an eye exam. The next available appointment is in April. Many of us are scheduling long postponed doctor visits. That’s true. But April? Why such a long backlog?

The answer impacts the wellbeing of our children. Before Covid shut down schools, school nurses did vision screenings every year. Many kinds of vision problems were caught early and referrals to optometrists and ophthalmologists happened at a predictable pace. When regular in-school attendance stalled, so did early interventions. With school back in session, two years’ worth of referrals are in the works; these children have lost critical learning time.

For Children’s Reading Alliance, the desperate need for our services is clear but, like so many cargo ships, there are supply chain issues. Volunteer Reading Buddies are ready to return to mentoring struggling readers. The First Teacher/Primer Maestro Family Literacy Program has an ever-growing list of desperate parents waiting for meeting spaces to open. Books are getting more expensive, and deliveries take longer.

We received this message from a second-grade teacher: “I can see Jayden struggling. I’m anxious to get a Reading Buddy for her.”

We need to get to children like Jayden. Parents, teachers and CRA volunteers are frustrated and anxious to get back to work but we face more obstacles with fewer financial resources.

Our goal is to raise $50,000 to get literacy programs to every DAC community by the summer of 2022. 
From a mother of three, translated from Spanish, “Before Katrina reached out to me, I felt hopeless. I want so much more for my children, but I never knew how to help them. I am so grateful. I have learned to be my children’s Primer Maestro. I wish every mother could take this class.”

Mariana said, “Nicolas didn’t know about books. Now he asks for one every night.”

Children learn so much from listening to stories and being read to every day yet many of your neighbors don’t know how to give their children positive reading experiences.

Elisa, a home-based childcare provider who took First Teacher/Primer Maestro Literacy Training: “I didn’t realize how important it is to read to children when they are very young. Now I turn off the cartoon. I read books and set up learning stations. It never occurred to me that I could create a learning environment in my home. Please continue to offer more workshops.”

Sofia said, “We are coming together as a family. Nobody is bored anymore. Even my ex-husband is more involved in what he calls ‘quality time’ with his kids.’”

Lucy attended Talking Stories/Cuentos que hablan programs with her children, saying, “We are learning Spanish as a family because the books are bilingual.”

Abuelo Gabe cares for his grandkids. “I feel like I have been shaken awake. I’m seeing my role change. I’m listening and talking more. It’s amazing what you find out about your kids. They are smarter than you think!”

Many Las Crucens keep this work alive with donations and volunteer hours. We need your help too. CRA has been offered a $1,000 matching grant that expires Dec. 31. Your donation will secure that grant.

Six-year-old Tomas, when offered his first-ever book, said, “You mean I can keep it?”

Araceli, age 7, after a volunteer helped her choose a book, said, “I am going to put this in the bottom of my backpack so no one can steal it.”

Your contribution helps children like Tomas, Araceli and Jayden. Visit our website: childrensreadingalliance.org to make your gift online or mail a check to CRA, 3880 Foothills Road, Las Cruces, NM 88011.

And, remember to buy toilet paper!

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 rmeasure@gmail.com.

Rorie Measure