Stories get Vail Valley kids ready for school |

Stories get Vail Valley kids ready for school

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado “-Vail Valley parents who read to their newborn children might not see the results of what they’re doing for years, but it doesn’t mean their efforts are fruitless.

Reading to your children is not only good for their developing brains, but it’s also a way for parents to bond with children, said Colleen Gray, executive director of the Literacy Project, a nonprofit based in Avon. That’s why Gray recently launched a national program, called Raising A Reader, through her organization.

The program provides bags of books to low-income children. The children take the bags home every week and when they bring them back they get a new bag. Gray can tell the children are reading the books because they’re so excited to get a new bag every week, she said.

Gray has visited many low-income families in the valley and found that many of them don’t have any books at home, she said. The borrowed books get the families into the habit of reading at home and reading together ” something statistically proven to help children develop their reading skills, according to the National Institute for Literacy, a government organization.

Children who are read to by their parents end up better understanding words in context, recognizing letters and understanding the sounds of letters faster than children who aren’t read to weekly, a National Institute for Literacy study shows.

The children love it, said Kathy Reed, assistant director of the Family Learning Center in Edwards, which participates in Raising A Reader. She has 143 bags with four books in each bag, and even though it’s a process trying to distribute and organize everything, Reed says it’s “so well worth it.”

“The children all ask when the next book bag is coming,” she said. “Parents are very pleased; I have heard many positive comments ” children tell me what book was their favorite book out of the bag.”

Delia Jimenez’s four-year-old son Andrew is loving his new reading habit, she said. Andrew has been asking his mom to read to him ever since he started bringing Raising A Reader books home.

“He enjoys it a lot,” Jimenez said. “We read almost all of them in one night.”

Jimenez usually reads to Andrew while they’re laying in bed ” she said he likes to sit next to her when they read. As for his reading progress, she’s says her son’s imagination is running wild.

“He’s not reading on his own, but he’ll go through the book looking at the pictures, and he’ll make up his own stories,” Jimenez said. “Then we’ll talk about the book and he lets me know what he likes about it.”

Raising a reader gives books in English and Spanish to children, which helps children become better readers and speakers in both languages, Gray said.

And children aren’t the only learners in the program ” the Literacy Project meets with the families of children in the program to go over different ways they can enjoy reading together, Gray said.

Jimenez loves that part of the program. She said the instructors in the Literacy Project’s Family Literacy Program at Colorado Mountain College, the program her son is in, give her new tips and ideas for making reading fun every week.

“It’s a really great program,” she said. “They take their time with the children.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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