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Reading Solution

Reading options are popping up all over the place thanks to community involvement

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A walk around your block may reveal a new construction the size of a small cupboard in your neighbor’s front yard. On closer inspection, you’ll see books and magazines inside. The beauty of these tiny cupboards of books is that they belong to everyone. Anybody is welcome to take a book or leave one.

Little Libraries (LL) are sprouting up all over. Recently, Cesia Otero of Doña Ana County Libraries and Pantries (DACLLP) invited 40 families to construct Little Libraries for their homes. Rio Grande Rotary Club and Lions Club sponsored this make-and-take event. Children’s Reading Alliance (CRA) participated with a Pop-up Book Fair table and shared nearly new books you and your friends have donated.

Each month a pop-up book fair (book distribution) occurs at the Boys and Girls Club and Jardin de Los Ninos. Sponsoring a Pop-up Book Fair is easy.  A book distribution request form is located on our website. https://www.childrensreadingalliance.org/. To suggest a good location for a surprise Pop-Up or if you wish to sponsor a book fair, email Duncan Smith at duncanstuartsmith@gmail.com or call the CRA office (575) 522-3713 to leave a message for Duncan. He will call back.

To contribute gently loved books, use drop-off bins at Boba’s Café on Espina, Planet Fitness at the corner of El Paseo and Idaho, and at the CRA office inside the Community Action Agency, 3880 Foothills Road. To sponsor a drop off basket at your business, call the CRA office or contact me at rmeasure@gmail.com.

Thinking about becoming a reading buddy? This is a good time to start your paperwork. Reading buddies are mentors for beginning readers most impacted by disrupted instructional time. Reading buddies are currently mentoring children at the Boys and Girls Club and six elementary schools. Many more volunteers will be needed when school resumes in July. If you would enjoy accelerating learning recovery for a struggling young reader contact Jan Reed at jgreed31@msn.com.

First Teacher/Primer Maestro classes prepare parents of children ages 3 through 5 to guide their children’s early learning through purposeful play. Demand for classes is surging. Volunteers are needed to prepare books and materials for hundreds of parents.  Future doctors at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and the NMSU Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) are assisting with processing materials and books.

While volunteers continue to be the backbone of community involvement, CRA’s explosive growth and the increasing impact of our programs requires organizational growth as well. We can no longer expect volunteers to provide all necessary services. Luckily, along the way some of our most dedicated supporters have become important staff members. Karina Carrillo, a long-time devoted CRA team member, is now First Teacher/Primer Maestro program manager and lead facilitator. Cassandra Reveles began as one of our gifted humanities scholars presenting Talking Stories/ Cuentos que hablan family literature events. She is now creative media lead.

New CRA Director Marisa DeWolf is leading community literacy initiatives into the next decade. Her broad vision for developing services will  meet the needs of more children.  As we expand so must our community’s capacity to make sure every child has what they need to develop skills for a lifetime love of reading.

For 10 years, you have been encouraging, strengthening, imagining and developing literacy for the next generation. You continue to share your treasure, your time and resources. This work is exciting and impactful. You are needed more than ever. Together, we are creating a community with a bright future for everyone.

Rorie Measure is president emeritus of Children's Reading Alliance, a grassroots initiative to encourage family literacy throughout Doña Ana County. She is a reader, writer, teacher, reading specialist and literacy trainer who can be reached at rmeasure@gmail.com.