Reading in the Time of Coronavirus

Rorie Measure

May 2020

If ever there was a time when children need something fun to read, that time is now.

Spending more time at home is hard enough for adults but it can be catastrophic to educational progress of our children. Kids who are home from school without books to read are at the greatest risk. For children who are already performing below expectations an interruption in reading during summer vacation results in declines in word recognition, reading fluency, vocabulary, decoding and comprehension. Summer reading loss has its greatest impact on children who can least afford to fall further behind. These effects occur during the usual eleven-week school vacation. These are certainly not usual times. The Covid19 educational interruption has now grown to at least 21 weeks.

Children’s Reading Alliance is facing the challenge head on. Audrey Hartley and Jennifer Alvarado are hastily creating pathways to get books to kids as quickly as possible. They are reaching out to community centers and school sites to add books to food distribution programs. As I write, they are making books available every Friday at Lynn Community School and the Boys and Girls Club in conjunction with free breakfast/lunch programs. Their plan is to expand an ambitious outreach program to more relief sites for as long as we have books to give.

As we increase our outreach to more places across the county our supply of books needs to be replenished. Each spring we depend on the generosity of this amazing community to fund our books and our mission. Thanks to donations and a recent infusion of books from Mesilla Valley Rotary Club and Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority we have had enough books to make a good start. We will be needing many more.

The good news is that national book distributors are trying to help by offering warehouse prices for children’s books sold in bulk. If we can take advantage of these bargains we can keep a steady flow of books coming to children with the least access to resources.

. A contribution at this time will put books into the hands of children while they are stuck at home and will keep CRA’s mission alive and thriving when our community needs us most. With your generosity, we will not only survive, but our children will thrive. We look forward to hearing from you.  Your donations can be sent to 3880 Foothills Road Las Cruces, NM  88011, or you can go online to  We greatly appreciate your support.

Don’t forget about reading for your own enjoyment and to bolster stamina for the challenges we face. If there are others in your house, or if you communicate with loved ones through electronic chats try sharing a story or poem with each other and tell us what happens.

Family read aloud time is enjoyable at every age, even yours. Shared reading provides precious opportunity for you to reacquaint with favorite books, discover some new ones and promote everyone’s desire to read. Adults reading to children and talking about the stories builds essential listening comprehension skills and vocabulary. Just twenty minutes a day will impact your child’s education well into the future. Increase the impact by asking follow-up questions like “What do you think…?” or “Why did you like that?” as you read. When adults read aloud and discuss books that are beyond their child’s current independent reading level essential skills are strengthened.

Not a confident reader? Use songs, nursery rhymes and silly poems you know to create a special story time. Hearing and repeating the rhyming and repeating patterns of sounds and phrases are fun and essential foundational props for small children as well as beginning readers. Even before children can talk your responses to their sounds and actions are building blocks to literacy.

Each day at home, enjoy this extra time with your family to chat with them, notice and talk about things around you. Discuss the day’s events. Explain what you are seeing, hearing and doing. Encourage children to ask questions and talk about what is happening.

Make each conversational moment longer by building upon what your child does and says. Talk about the things you see, hear and do together, explain what is happening around you. Take turns and, make eye contact while talking to each other to stimulate longer more meaningful conversations. Follow up with more information about subjects that interest your child. There is great power in family fun!

Stay Safe and Keep Reading Together!