For Academic Success, Let’s Start with a Good Book

The following guest blog post is by Nancy Alvarez, a PVF Parent Involvement Worker at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto.

When I was little, I always yearned for my parents to read me a bedtime story. Unfortunately, they did not have the knowledge or the tools to be able to read me stories or cultivate reading habits in me. As a parent I decided to prioritize literacy by reading to my daughters every day, and it has made all the difference. They love learning and enjoy going to school. I strongly believe that reading helps not only build bonds between parents and their children, but also leads to academic success in school. Reading every night has influenced my youngest, who has already decided that she wants to be a lawyer.

As a parent I decided to prioritize literacy by reading to my daughters every day, and it has made all the difference.

Thanks to the support of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, parents from East Palo Alto schools are able to participate in and benefit from a reading program designed to reinforce reading habits with their children. The program was created with one purpose: to help children succeed in school by promoting the importance of parents reading to their children. Parents are the first teachers in the lives of their children, who spend more time at home than in school. It is essential that parents have the awareness and the tools necessary for reading to their kids because a child’s success in school depends upon their reading abilities.

The program participants are selected according to their child’s reading level and need for improvement. Kepler’s bookstore has hospitably hosted one group of parents every month, which includes a tour of all the different books and a presentation on children’s books in particular. In the last visit, parents were so thrilled to discover the variety of books available, particularly dual-language books. A mom told me, “Now I will read in Spanish to my son and he will read to me in English.” It was such an extraordinary experience that another mom said, “I will come back to the bookstore and bring my niece.” These visits to the bookstore end on an even happier note, because they are able to purchase books for their kids. The parents walk away with homework: to learn their children’s reading levels and read to them at least 10 minutes every day. It is an eye-opening and unforgettable experience for them all.

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