Read by 4th blog
By Deicy Mariana Pérez
Reading Captain, as well as an ESL Family Literacy Instructor at Beyond Literacy.
Reading to me is like getting the power to travel in time; it’s an escape from reality. In the small town in Colombia where I grew up, we didn’t have easy access to books. They were hard to come by, but when we did, I treasured them.
I’ve been able to engage with Read by 4th from two different perspectives: as a Reading Captain, and as a partner organization, through the Beyond Literacy’s ESL–Family Literacy Program.
Together with my colleague Mary Wilson, we have participated in different great workshops and training that have given us the tools to better serve our families. We have been able to enrich our curriculum by embracing Read by 4th’s mission and putting into practice all the great workshops and materials they have designed, such as the Early Reading Skills workshop, the activities to prevent the summer slide, the ABCs of reading and the Reading Promise.
We are also part of the Family Engagement Committee where we share ideas and get to know what other organizations are doing for early literacy around Philadelphia.
Getting involved in this work has been one of the best decisions I have made as an immigrant. It has allowed me to connect to the community, help promote literacy among families, and meet amazing leaders who are fighting for equity in education in their neighborhoods, and empowering parents to defend their children’s right to read.
One of my greatest experiences has been helping edit and translate into Spanish some of the materials from the Early Reading Workshops. This kind of material is critical, and in such short supply for the large and growing population of Spanish-speaking immigrants in Philadelphia. We need more translated materials, not just in Spanish but many more languages, too. We need more bilingual Reading Captains from more communities and ethnic backgrounds to work directly with these families. There needs to be more sustained, focused outreach in these communities where English is not the first language.
One of our Family Literacy Program’s goals is to help the families create a home library. We know how crucial it is for children to have books around in English and their native languages, and, as part of the collective group of Read by 4th partners, we have been able to achieve this goal.
Many immigrant parents don’t feel comfortable reading in English to their children, and if they don’t have books in their native language they don’t have the opportunity to read to them at all. These parents and children are losing communication and the great connection that arises when reading together.
Too often, members of our communities don’t have the information or resources to navigate the school system. Some parents may not fully understand their children’s school report cards or are not aware of the meaning of the independent reading levels, and how to support their children at home to help them read on grade level.
Fortunately, the partners of Read by 4th have created a complete Early Reading Skills workshop that goes along with a Take-Home Workbook and a Parent Guide for parents to know what their children are expected to know at the end of each grade from K-3rd, and activities support them, particularly during these times of pandemic. I invite parents to visit Read by 4th’s website and take advantage of all the resources available to help their children succeed in school.
I encourage other immigrants to join this wonderful campaign and become a Reading Captain to assist other families in their neighborhood to become strong readers.
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