Reading Solution – March 2017
How are award winning books chosen? Today’s column is a report from JoAnn Jonas a…
A Season of Change
Change is in the air at the Children’s Reading Alliance. Recently, one of our First Teacher/Primer Maestro (FT/PM) team members achieved a goal that seemed impossible just a few years ago. Olga was a parent participant at a First Teacher class four years ago when her youngest child was three. She was so enthused by what she learned that she asked for further instruction and became a FT/PM Facilitator. She was a natural presenter in both English and Spanish and soon became a popular trainer. In the summer Olga was a Summer Book Buddy doing read aloud activities for classes in the K-3 plus program at her children’s school. For this mother of five, being in the classroom resurrected a long buried dream of becoming a teacher. With encouragement from her children and prodding by her friends at CRA she is now doing well in college pursuing a degree in elementary education. Olga is breaking a family cycle of poverty and setting a new course for her family.
Another transition is happening at CRA as we welcome two new staff members, Audrey Hartley and Jennifer Alvarado. Both are professionals in early childhood education as well as mothers who know all too well the language and literacy challenges facing so many of our children.
Hartley received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from New Mexico State University, and a certification in Early Childhood Education from Dona Ana Community College. “I am looking forward to sharing the gift of reading with our community’s children.” Hartley is the author of Colors for Michaela a children’s book she wrote with her daughters in 2011.
Alvarado has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from New Mexico State, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Speech and Language pathology. She has experience working with mothers and young children. “I look forward to promoting literacy by getting our children and their parents excited about reading.” says Alvarado.
Children’s attitudes about reading seem to be changing. Eight years ago, when CRA volunteers first went to summer recreational centers with free books, children were skeptical. I still remember the boy who flatly stated, “I don’t like books.” and wouldn’t even take a look. Five years ago, I watched girls waiting to see what the other girls took so they could be sure they had matching books. This summer our visits felt different; there’s enthusiastic anticipation. Book selection has now become a lengthy, thoughtful process. We get requests for particular topics, genres, and even sometimes, authors. One third grader inquired, “Where are the more challenging books?”
As the sun sets entirely too early these days, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on everything that is happening in this busy year.
As always the Alliance relies on the generosity of the community in order to continue to fund and expand literacy programs. For more information or to donate to the Children’s Reading Alliance, call Audrey Hartley or Jennifer Alvarado at 575-522-3713. Visit our website at www.childrensreadingalliance.org
Reading Solution columns are written by Rorie Measure, president of the Children’s Reading Alliance. Measure is a Reading Specialist, Curriculum Developer, Literacy Trainer and retired classroom teacher.