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Helping Families Raise Readers

Pacific, community leaders launch summer workshops to boost early literacy
Jun 14, 2013

A series of workshops aimed at encouraging parents to read with their children - and giving them the tools to support literacy at home - will launch on June 21 and continue throughout the summer.

The Family Literacy project, led by University of the Pacific and its partners in the Beyond Our Gates early literacy initiative, is jointly funded by First 5 San Joaquin/Human Services Agency.

The series will include eight to 10 workshops offered in English and Spanish and hosted by nonprofit agencies, faith groups and other organizations throughout San Joaquin County. Focused on families with children up to 5 years old, each workshop will feature a presentation on the importance of early literacy, and will offer guidance to parents and caregivers on how to help children develop literacy skills. Participants will receive a high-quality children's book to take home, as well as a collection of literacy resources including a nightly reading log, a directory of local literacy programs, and a guide to free and low-cost educational opportunities for children.

"We all want our children to do well at school and in their lives ahead," said Jennifer Torres Siders, community relations manager at University of the Pacific. "Reading aloud not only nurtures the bond between parent and child, it also lays a strong foundation for future academic success."

The first Family Literacy workshop, hosted by El Concilio, will be June 21 at a dairy in Escalon. Members of the media are invited and should contact Torres Siders for event time and driving directions.

Education advocates around the country acknowledge June 21 as Summer Learning Day, an opportunity to spread awareness of the need for summer learning opportunities. Studies have demonstrated that children - especially low-income children - lose months of learning when school is out of session and educational activities are not available.

"When families read together, especially during the summer months, learning continues even after classes stop," said Linda Mora, vice president for program development at El Concilio.

The next workshops in the series will be June 24 and June 26 in Stockton and will be hosted by Visionary Home Builders.

The workshop series supports the goals of Pacific's Beyond Our Gates early literacy initiative. The ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade is a critical indicator of a child's future educational success. Research shows that children who aren't strong readers when they leave third grade fall behind - and many of them never catch up. Unfortunately, last year in San Joaquin County, fewer than half of third graders were proficient readers.

The problem is serious, but not unsolvable. Through the Beyond Our Gates initiative, Pacific and its local partners are building a collective strategy to improve early literacy in San Joaquin County.

Tips for Reading Aloud - First 5 California


  • Read just a few pages at a time. Babies have short attention spans so it's OK to put the book aside when your child loses interest
  • Choose brightly colored board books that have pictures of familiar objects, like toys or animals.
  • Cuddle while you read to help your baby feel safe, warm and connected to you.


  • Read the same stories over and over again so your child can start making connections between words and pictures
  • Encourage your child to turn the book's pages.
  • Ask your child to name what's in the pictures.


  • Have your child follow along by moving your finger under the words as you read.
  • Ask your child which character they like best or what they think is going to happen next in the story.
  • Extend reading time by sharing a related activity together, such as drawing a picture that describes the story.

Contact at Jennifer Torres Siders at 209.946.3134 or jtorressiders@pacific.edu for more information.


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