You don’t have to take my word for it, a quick search on the benefits of reading will show that it is considered the most important skill leading to success in school and life. Reading builds brains, developing connections that promote language and cognition while building social and emotional growth. Families that can provide or have access to early reading programs are in a better position to construct a cycle of literacy which helps to ensure a happier, more enjoyable life for all involved.
However, not everyone is so lucky. Larry’s parents were not able to take care of their child, so he ended up being cared for by his grandmother. There were no early educational experiences for Larry, and he never completely learned the skill of reading. Unfortunate circumstances led to difficulties in school, and he ended up being suspended for getting into fights and was caught shoplifting. At this point Larry entered the “system” of justice where each additional mistake leads to increasing penalties and negative experiences. In and out of trouble in the following years, Larry ended up with a wife and two kids. Fortunately for Larry, during his last brush with the law he ended up at the Southern Ute Detention Center where he was able to participate in educational programs provided by the caring staff for the benefit of their inmates.
One of these programs, Motheread/Fatheread is run by staff from the Ignacio Community Library with training and support from Colorado Humanities. The Motheread/Fatheread program works with inmates who have children, bringing them books, coaching them to read the book aloud for a recording and sending a copy of the book and recording to their kids at home. A new cycle of literacy has been planted and hopefully the seed will mature and blossom into growing opportunities for all the members of the family. Not only will Larry’s children receive educational opportunities that he did not have, but the themes and messages found inside the program’s books, as well as the instruction provided, will also give Larry new ideas and insights, and can assist in forming more positive choices for him in the future. At the conclusion of the program and upon Larry’s release he will return home and, with the collection of books provided by Motheread/Fatheread, the hope is he will continue to read regularly to his children and for himself.
Reading is a key to help unlock human potential and positive experiences. Creating access to materials, especially to underserved populations, is a vital part of the library’s mission. ICL staff is pleased to restart the Motheread/Fatheread program, which has been on a hiatus for the past few years due to COVID, as prior experiences with the inmates and their families have been mostly very rewarding. Your local library hopes that this program will benefit not only the participants and their families but all the members of our community by making this vital link between literature and life.