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‘Family Voices’ Project Addresses Early Literacy

In this modern, fast-paced, society many of us tend to overlook the little joys in life. Reading to a child not only promotes a child’s literacy skills, but it also promotes cherished experiences and memories. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann with David Harrison, renowned child author, about a local project geared toward reigniting a love of reading.

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, fewer than half of the children nationwide, from birth to 5 years old, are read to by a parent. That number drops significantly in families where the parent has dropped out of school, or for those families who live in poverty. David Harrison is a spokesperson for a new project called Family Voices. This project is dedicated to increasing literacy in the Springfield area.“We have invited a number of known people in the community to each read a book, and we will record those stories. As a ‘coup-de-gras’ we will have the parent, or parents, to read a story also to their child [that will also be recorded], and that will be right up front on the CD. The CD will be personalized,” said Harrison.

The personalized CD will then be presented to the family along with a children’s book, with the goal of engaging both parents and children alike. Harrison says that today as much as one-third of the children entering kindergarten do not have the literacy skills in place to learn how to read. He stresses that this skill begins at home. This is a collaborative effort between Drury University, Springfield Public Schools, the Springfield-Greene County Library, and various individuals. We are still in the process of raising funds currently, as it is going to take $5000 to reach the first 1000 kids. Springfield has somewhere between 8 and 10 thousand children in the age bracket of infant to 5 years old,” Harrison said.

Harrison says recordings will begin with over the next several weeks, and the campaign will invite parents to participate once school starts. Harrison stresses that literacy is a skill that translates to all areas of life, and if children are to become successful they need to be encouraged in this area.

“Literacy is a real issue, and we hope the community will begin to discuss this a bit more. We haven’t invented the problem, and we certainly aren’t intending to be the absolute solution. The city has addressed this [issue], and the community has addressed it. This is simply a more tangible way,” Harrison said.

To find out more about the Family Voices project, or to learn how you can help, you can email David Harrison at: davidlharrison [at] att [dot] net . For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.