What do you get when you put a Summer Reading Program, a Family Read Aloud Project, and a local food pantry together? Energy, inspiration, and togetherness, in spades!
Cazenovia Public Library has been a proud partner of Cazenovia’s local food pantry, CazCares, for nearly a decade. Betsy Kennedy, Director, says she is “happy to share the way we’re working together to transform people’s lives.”
How do you stock literacy in a food pantry?
In addition to offering food, clothing items, and other support services to local residents, CazCares delivers on its motto, “We stock LITERACY in our food pantry!” While parents receive services, their preschool age children can play, interact, and learn in the Story Room, a wonderful language- and literacy-rich environment sponsored by the Cazenovia Public Library. In the summer months the Story Room is opened up to school age children to help maintain and boost their literacy skills outside of the classroom. “Students get a real head start on the school year when they’ve continued reading and writing over the summer,” says Literacy Coordinator, Carla Zimmerman. “Our joint program at CazCares offers free books, support, and fun literacy activities to keep students involved and excited about learning all summer long.”
Tell us more about your Summer Program
The Summer Program was a little different this year; for the first time, participants were offered a bonus “Family Literacy Project,” designed to facilitate the creation of a “togetherness literacy culture” at home. CazCares Director, Gigi Redmond explains, “In March of this year we discovered a grant opportunity through the CORE Federal Credit Union. CazCares and the Library applied jointly and were fortunate enough to get funded for our Summer Program.” As a result of this initiative, twenty families received copies of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, along with parent read-aloud tips, a special Charlotte bookmark, and a “web” for logging family read time. As an additional bonus, families were invited to a Charlotte’s Web Pizza Party held in celebration of their great accomplishments.
What did the families say the most important thing about reading aloud together was?
- “You know your parents care about you,” explained a 3rd grader.
- “We get to spend time together,” wrote one family.
- A mother and daughter noted, “You’re not all by yourself. You’re all sharing something together.”
- “You go into different worlds together. You learn more about animals, science, and the world,” said a family of six.
- A ten year old piped up to say, “It’s fun switching voices from character to character.”
- “It’s fun not to think about anything but the book in front of you,” a single mom glowed. She continued, “And there’s always another book!”
Thanks to the Story Room at CazCares, there is always another book …