It’s 6 ‘o clock on a Wednesday evening and parents, children, Save the Children US Program Staff, and members of the town’s Literacy Council have gathered at Alamosa Elementary School in Colorado to talk about reading. Tonight’s guest speaker is local physician’s assistant, Louise Middaugh, whose presentation focuses on the importance of reading to young children.
“Children’s brains go through a period of enormous growth in the early years. Reading to them helps to build a strong foundation for literacy and learning,” she tells the moms and dads. She uses “Chika Chika Boom Boom,” a children’s rhyming alphabet book to demonstrate interactive reading techniques that keep little brains engaged and invites the children in the audience to join her in doing the Chika Chika Boom Boom dance. The kids love every moment of it.
Alamosa’s Children’s Librarian, Becky Steenberg, is also here, as is Judy Duarte from Reach Out and Read, an organization that works to incorporate books into pediatric care and encourages families to read aloud together. Both women are members of the Alamosa Literacy Council, which helps Save the Children implement literacy-focused projects at its program sites in the San Luis Valley. “It’s all about creating a culture of literacy in Alamosa. The public library can only do so much. If we all work together, we are stronger,” librarian Becky Steenberg explains.
“Alamosa has many low-income households. We need to support the children here by giving them more access to books and as many opportunities to read as we can,” Judy adds.
Alamosa Mayor Pro Tem, Ty Coleman is also here, as is Chief of Police Duane Oakes. Both community leaders have come out tonight to chat to parents, read to the preschoolers in the audience and to support Save the Children’s efforts to promote literacy in one of America’s most remote regions. “We really appreciate what Save the Children does for our community,” says Mayor Pro Tem Coleman.