contributed by Jennifer Bethel, FCPL
Our Literacy Team has been hard at work this past year, continuing working with families, individuals, and tutors to learn the technology skills needed to meet online and continue to develop literacy skills during the pandemic. The team recently wrapped up a 5-week series on Zoom called “Families Learning Together” which brought together families from across the County with children of all ages registered as a unit to set literacy goals for their families. Each family received their own copy of the picture book Dreamers by Yuyi Morales about a young family who discovers opportunity and hope through books and reading at their local public library. The narrator of the book tells us after a visit to the library: “Books became our language. Books became our home. Books became our lives. We learned to read, speak, write, and make our voices heard. Someday we will become something we haven’t even yet imagined. But right now…We are stories. We are two languages. We are lucha. We are resilience. We are hope. We are dreamers, soñadores of the world. We are love, amor.”
Families in the program are encouraged to write the dreams and aspirations they have for their family inside the cover of the book as a keepsake and a reminder of their goals. Over the course of the program where the families attend each week, they play games like Loteria, which is a Mexican game similar to Bingo, but instead of numbers drawn from ping pong balls, a deck of cards is used with images on each card: El gallo (the rooster), La Dama (the lady), El Tambor (the drum) and many more. In between the games which keep the kids (and adults!) attentive and in good spirits, the Literacy team engages each family to talk about progress on literacy goals and practice. As the weeks progress, the families become more comfortable with the program but also with each other and the technology. During each online session, the team reminds the participants how to navigate Zoom, how to use the chat feature, to share their screens, to use the whiteboard, and builds in opportunities to practice these new skills. The Literacy team notices that by the end of the program series even the shy participants have their cameras on, speak up more, share progress freely, ask questions, and are eager to continue working with the library. The combination of literacy skills, goal setting, and working with technology gives everyone confidence that isn’t always apparent at the start of the program.
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