Head Start students Alessandra Franco, Jayla Baker, Kameon Copeland and Jayden Carlos are thrilled with their new reading room full of books, thanks to a generous donation from the Joliet chapter of the National Hook-Up of Black Women. | Supplied photo
Updated: August 13, 2013 6:01AM
It’s the end of a long day, so while Rosie Sanchez of Joliet is washing the dishes, she calls to her son Dylan Sanchez, 4, to start getting ready for bed.
“He wants his story time,” Rosie said. “Sometimes, if I’m not able to read to him, my 11-year-old Daniel will.”
Through a generous supply of 2,500 books from the Joliet chapter of the National Hook-Up of Black Women, three Head Start sites of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet now have libraries where both the students and the adults can check out and keep books.
Unlike traditional libraries, returning these books is optional. The hope is that families will grow their own collections of reading materials, said Deborah Summers, president of the National Hook-Up of Black Women, so they can read their favorites over and over again.
“We want to build family literacy,” Summers said. “That’s why we’re in the business of giving out books.”
The sites that received these books are the St. John’s Center in Joliet, Broadway Center in Jolie and Good Shepherd Center in Bolingbrook.
To help promote family-style reading, the National Hook-Up of Black Women will occasionally offer workshops to Head Start parents to encourage what Summers calls “intergenerational reading.”
Lou Ann Johnson, president of the Joliet chapter, said the workshops not only foster reading as a whole, they also provide tips to encourage the habit of reading and ways to help a child struggling with the skill.
“Our motto is that the parent is the first teacher,” Johnson said.
Furthermore, Summers said, if children see the parents happily engaged in reading, they too will understand the importance of reading and long to hold a book between their hands. Reading can also strengthen the bond between parents and children, especially when parents read to their young children.
This last is especially important, said Ericka Williams, manager of program recruitment, because many financially struggling parents have no access to even free books. They may live far away from a library and be unable to afford the out-of-district fees.
“When children have access to books, either to read individually or within families, it promotes early learning in order for them to succeed later in life,” Williams said. “It also gives Spanish-speaking families greater comprehension of the English language.”
Since many of the books are bilingual, even non-English-speaking parents may strengthen their reading skills and then decide to return to school for their GED and to advance their career development, said Mary Ann Pinkney, manager of education services for Head Start.
Because Sanchez’s children are living in a bilingual home, Sanchez believes that books that include both English and Spanish words foster fluency in dual languages.
“Dylan is getting good at learning both languages,” Sanchez said.