COMMUNITY MATTERS: Foundation helps with literacy
Talk about preaching to the choir. It’s important to know how to read; don’t you think?
The 1985 Commission on Reading proclaimed, “the single most important activity for knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
I remember as a little girl, sitting with my mother as she read books to me. And, like many children, I wanted the same book read over and over until I memorized it and could “read” it along with her. “I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.”
Reading to infants helps them learn to read. It builds recognition of objects, helps their eyes to focus and enhances listening skills. Reading to small children also involves physical closeness, which can reinforce the pleasure of reading. To help underscore the importance of reading, Church of the Mountain Preschool started a program called Read To Me.
Read To Me puts books in the hands of parents of infants. Read To Me volunteers fill book bags with two or three age-appropriate books and a couple of articles on the importance of reading to infants. These book bags are delivered to our local pediatricians’ offices. Doctors and nurses hand out the book bags to parents at their child’s six-month well-baby checkup.
Reading to infants is not about raising super, overachieving children. I’ll save that for a woman I knew in Contra Costa County who was convinced her child wouldn’t get into an Ivy League school because he was assigned to afternoon kindergarten rather than morning.
According to an article called, “Rethinking the Brain: Insights into Early Development, read to an infant “and in a matter of seconds, thousands of cells in these children’s growing brains respond. Some brain cells are ‘turned on,’ triggered by this particular experience. Many existing connections among brain cells are strengthened. At the same time, new brain cells are formed, adding a bit more definition and complexity to the intricate circuitry that will remain largely in place for the rest of these children’s lives.”
Dianne Fix, director of the Church of the Mountain Preschool and chief strategist behind Read To Me, says that some of her goals for the upcoming year are to find and purchase good children’s books in Spanish, or in Spanish and English, to include in book bags for parents who may have limited English skills. With some additional support, she might even be able to add a couple more pediatrician offices. Parents from the preschool help out with this project. The Truckee Rotary Club buys the book bags. One note, though: Dianne’s not looking for book donations. (Take those to the library.) She has a selection of books specifically chosen for content and durability that she purchases for the book bags.
The Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation helps fund Read To Me because we want our youngest residents to have great connections – to their parents, among their brain cells and to our community. We also want children, who as adults, can still recite “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “Good Night Moon.”
If you are interested in learning more about Read To Me, please call Dianne Fix at 587-8056 or Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation at 587-1776.
Lisa Dobey is the president of Truckee Tahoe Foundation. She may be reached at 587-1776 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. TTCF’s goal is to grow local philanthropy to meet community needs and opportunities.
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