The Children’s Reading Alliance is community-driven, county-wide project that promotes the message, “Read with a child 20 minutes every day” and focuses on improving literacy throughout Doña Ana County. We thank the Institute for Community Engagement and McCune Foundation for assistance in establishing the Children’s Reading Alliance.

Want to help us further literacy in Doña Ana County? Make a donation to:
Children’s Reading Alliance
3880 Foothills Rd. Suite A
Las Cruces, NM 88011

Give Grande NM- Donate online May 6!

POSTED: April 23rd 2014


Nonprofit organizations in New Mexico will be able to participate in this historical, community-giving event. This 24-hour event, led by the Coalitionwill raise as much money as possible for our local nonprofits via easy-to-use online fundraising. It will reignite the spirit of giving in our communities and provide opportunities for statewide nonprofits to get their creative juices flowing, while creating fun, engaging events for donors, old and new.

Click here to DONATE:



Reading Solution: May 2014

POSTED: May 5th 2014

Is technology squeezing out precious minutes of reading and quiet reflection from our busy lives? That was the question in last month’s column. Since then I have learned that televisions in restaurants and waiting rooms really hit a nerve with my readers.

So my slogan this month is, Read twenty minutes in public… spread peer pressure!

I am starting to see reading as an act of social justice.  We need to be exhibitionist readers, reading in public allows others to catch our enthusiasm. Consider this column a Call to Arms–arms that are holding  books, periodicals, and electronic readers.

I took my own foray into reader activism this week by summoning the courage to request that a waiting room TV be turned off. I was the only person in the waiting room so it wasn’t that big of a risk but I like to think of it as a start. The courage to do that came from the surprising number of readers who expressed passionate displeasure for the electronic passive-aggression pervading waiting rooms and restaurants.

Kathy Cooke’s comments are a sampling of responses I received from Bulletin readers, “Once again your Bulletin article was enjoyable, informative and timely. I am constantly annoyed with the blaring mindless TV shows I am subject to in many waiting rooms. Your point is very well taken… start a campaign among waiting room managers (of all industries) to turn off the TV and create a reading spot…  a reading refuge…. creative people can come up with many more ideas along these lines… Maybe an Eagle Scout could take it on, or NMSU students majoring in literacy/reading?”

My first furtive attempt at subversive reading activism occurred a few months ago in a surgery waiting room. There, a roomful of quietly preoccupied people ignored a blaring TV.  Not one person was watching the cooking show. Sheepishly, I looked around for someone in authority to appeal to but there wasn’t anyone. Timidly, I reached up and turned down the volume a little. I searched faces for a protest but no one even looked up. I turned down the volume a little more; still no response from anyone. Now, I must admit, at that point I was tempted to turn the TV off. Somehow, that seemed like being too forward so I left it at that and tried to concentrate on my Kindle. In the ensuing months I have been wondering why I had trouble defying the authority of a TV no one was watching.

So this week, all alone in the mammography waiting chamber, wearing nothing more than the terrycloth robe they provided, I sat meekly and summoned up naked courage. *

When the technician arrived to tell me my wait was extended, I boldly proclaimed my unusual request.

Please turn off that monstrously loud and chatty video pest.

My nemesis, television, like Yertle of Dr. Suess fame,

Was mounted up higher than that poor woman’s reach,

But with my encouragement, she wielded a coffee cup into the breach.

She pressed the off button and quit that mad chatter.

The silence was blissful and quiet prevailed.

With sincere gratitude I opened my tome.

I felt like just like Mack at the base of the throne.

Little Mack burped anew.

Noise pollution was thwarted and

Reading broke through.


*Apologies to poets everywhere





Reading Solution: April 2014

POSTED: April 3rd 2014

I’ve been seeking quiet places as I make the rounds of auto repair and medical appointments with an enticing book in my hands. Surprisingly, many waiting rooms are no longer good places for reading. Wall mounted TVs provide continuous loops of pharmaceutical infomercials and steady onslaught of talk and cooking shows as we are held captive with no volume control, even when no one is watching. Add loud cell phone conversations and the waiting world becomes a truly uncomfortable place. In our increasingly plugged in world, a little silence has become a precious commodity.

The electronic assault on our senses continues to spread. No longer can a person in a restaurant be assured of sitting peacefully with a book. Replacing the gentle white noise of other patrons are multiple screens of pre-recorded televised sports events competing for attention. Is it too late to take back the peace?

A quick web search revealed that people seek quiet in public places.  Both the New York Times and the Boston Herald have carried stories about Amtrak’s new “silent cars.” Train passengers are paying extra for the comfort of riding in quiet. According to an informal CNN poll, 53 percent of airline passengers would offer up a premium to sit in a silent zone.

As a ringleader for the CRF slogan “Read with a Child Twenty Minutes a Day” I am always on the lookout for literacy friendly places. So, it is in this spirit that today’s column gives a high five to a local business where I enjoy quiet reading time twice a week. The clinic where I get my allergy shots, The Allergy and Asthma Clinic on Lohman Avenue, is a television/cellphone-free zone that is stocked with well-worn magazines and books for all ages. I know I will be able to get twenty minutes to read even when the office is crowded and bustling. Not only does the quiet support reading for adults, but family groups can often be seen huddling together over books and homework. The staff actively encourages children to read.  Nurse Cindy Talley has built a literacy rich environment for her young patients. Besides age appropriate books and magazines, she promotes monthly mental challenges that include art and creative writing. Pictures, poems and letters by young artists are displayed on bulletin boards all around the immunotherapy (shots) station bearing witness to the popularity of these activities. In this literacy friendly environment, I have seen the littlest children picking up magazines and looking at them studiously.

Are electronics always on in your life?

Where do you carve out a quiet place to sit and read each day? Look around your home.  Is there an invitation to read waiting for each member of the family? You and your family deserve the pleasure of reading time each day. Whether it is a time to read aloud to each other or just a quiet time for everyone to read, each member of the family will benefit from the experience.

How much is a little peace and quiet worth to you? Where do you go to squeeze in twenty blissfully quiet moments on your busy days? Be a trend setter and share your suggestions for good places to read around the valley and I will spread the word through this column.

Reading Solution: March 2014

POSTED: March 12th 2014

Chances are you learned to read early in life and take pleasure in doing so. By now, the act of reading is automatic and requires no conscious effort. Perhaps you even describe yourself as an avid reader. If so, you are among the educational elite in Dona Ana County. Far too many of your neighbors have not had the opportunity to reach full employability and self-sufficiency because of an inadequate level of literacy.

According to statistics reported by Colleen Heild in the Albuquerque Journal, more than 80 percent of New Mexico’s children from low-income families are behind on the first day of kindergarten and one in four is unable to read even one letter of the alphabet.

Today’s column celebrates the efforts of six Las Crucens who are taking the initiative within their own neighborhoods to improve the prospects for children by building literacy skills within families.

Conlee Elementary school teachers Elizabeth McDonald, Clara Lopez , and Kim Ortiz, and Jornada Elementary teachers, Sarah Johnson, Nicole Scott and Martha Benavidez are welcoming parents of preschoolers to join them after school. Together they talk and play and discover how children develop language skills.

Using the First Teacher curriculum developed in Las Cruces, parents engage in purposeful play and read aloud activities to prepare their children for future success in school.  A sampling of parent comments at the end of six weeks reveal that parents see positive changes at home.  ‘’I never thought just reading with my child would be such a bonding moment. Before, my son did not like to be held but as we started to read together his walls started to come down. Now he can’t wait for our reading time to come.”

“We set aside 30 minutes a night for reading and play time. We are able to spend quality time together with useful materials. My children are engaged and excited to do something new with learning!”

“There is so much we do now that we did not do before. Like… while driving we point out letters, colors, and shapes. We sing the ABC’s every morning on the way to the babysitter. My daughter points out the colors of her food. She draws shapes and letters and tells a story about her pictures.”

“We spend more time as a family. We enjoy more family activities. My kids really enjoy the books and toys. I personally enjoy every toy because that helps me to have more activities with them. We are learning at the same time.”

“My daughter always takes her little purse with her when we go out. She used to put jewelry in it. Now, she packs her books in her purse.”

The premise of First Teacher workshops is that parents provide their children with the cornerstone of learning success when they share a love of learning at home before their children enter school. In Las Cruces, First Teacher workshops are supported by a grant from the Stocker Foundation.

Teachers at Conlee and Jornada are engaging families of preschoolers in a new and powerful way. While this is a local effort that concentrates on the needs of our specific community, it also reflects a new trend in education toward creating more community centered schools.

According to Amy Dean in the current issue of YES! Magazine, “Around the country, public schools are reestablishing teachers as partners in a child’s learning and development.” New programs initiated by teachers are creating relationships with parents to insure school success.

Reading Solution: February 2014

POSTED: February 19th 2014

A child, a book, a hug

Today is a good time for snuggling with your little one to read a favorite book together. According to research at Medical University of Vienna, this will promote your “love hormone.” Hugs have been found to ease fear and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and boost memory. Now that’s an idea worth embracing.

Award winning books

The major award winners in children’s literature have been announced.  The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature goes to “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo , published by Candlewick Press. The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children is “Locomotive,” illustrated by Brian Floca. The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Las Cruces Reads

This column recognizes achievements in promoting a culture of literacy for our own community. Please share your efforts with me for future columns. Today we salute a non-profit child care provider and a medical office for their efforts to promote literacy.

The City of Las Cruces Recreation Section’s After School and summer Out of School Programs feature life skills in their approach to childcare. Located in seven sites around the city, the program, directed by Marcel Nicolitz, serves 269 children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Reading, tutoring, physical activity and nutrition are special features of the curriculum. According to Stephanie Vargas, Recreation Service Leader, “The children are able to take books home with them so they can continue reading with their families. In our summer Recreation Camps we emphasize group reading.”

Current sites for the City After School program include Monte Vista, Highland, Hermosa, Valley View, Alameda, Fairacres schools and Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center. Registration is required and there is a monthly fee.

The Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Southern NM offers a reading rich environment. Drs. Gaines, Rupp, and Funkhauser’s busy doctors’ office on Lohman Avenue provides a cell phone-free zone that encourages parents and children to read together in its two waiting rooms. Children’s magazines include Ranger Rick, Highlights, National Geographic Kids and Boy’s Life. Nurse Cindy Talley provides monthly contests and activities for her young patients.

Autism Conference

The Tri-Unity Conference is February 28 at NMSU in Corbett Center. The topic is Teaching reading and beyond: Addressing the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders. National speaker, Sylvia Diehl will address issues supporting the development of literacy skills. For more information contact Felicia Olivas at 575 526 6682 or email

“Family Place” at Branigan library

Branigan Library is now a designated “Family Place” library. “Family Place” is a national program that promotes good health, early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities to encourage growth and development in early childhood. Catherine Christmann, Director of Children’s Services, announces that parent-child workshops will begin in March and are funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The program includes five week sessions of Parent-Child Workshops presented several times a year. Each Monday at 10:00 a.m. there will be opportunity for parents to play with their child, make friends, and talk one-on-one with specialists in early literacy; speech, hearing and language development; child development; nutrition; and music, play and health. There will be different play stations around the room: gross motor skills, creative play, blocks, transportation and an art project. More information is available at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library.

More News Give Grande NM- Donate online May 6! Reading Solution: May 2014 Reading Solution: April 2014 Reading Solution: March 2014 Reading Solution: February 2014 Reading Solution: January 2014 Reading Solution: December 2013 Reading Solution: November 2013 Reading Solution: October 2013 Reading Solution: September 2013 Reading Solution: August 2013 Reading Solution: July 2013 Reading Solution: June 2013 Stocker Foundation Funds First Teacher Project Read UP! Program Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Grant Dolly Parton Imagination Library CRF of Doña Ana County in the Schools Celebrating the Young Child Avance Graduation Reading Solution: May 2013 Reading Solution: April 2013 CRF of Doña Ana County News and Events Archive Reading Solution: March 2013 Reading Solution: February 2013