The Reading to the HEART program is a comprehensive, research-based, leisure-time reading program designed to enhance youth reading habits during non-school time and to help parents organize literacy-rich home environments. Two elementary schools in Madison Parish and two community centers in Rapides Parish are the program intervention sites. The target reading audience is 40 fourth-grade children selected each year over a five-year period in each parish. Parents, teachers, adult leaders, teen volunteers and other collaborators in the communities are involved in support, advocacy and enabling roles. When you and other family members or friends read with your children, help them with homework, talk with their teachers and participate in school or other learning activities, you are giving your child support to succeed in life. We look forward to all Louisiana communities starting their own programs and encouraging families to "take the reading challenge."
Louisiana CYFAR Sustainable Community Project (SCP)
Reading to the HEART: A Family Reading Program
Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~
The Louisiana Sustainable Community Project -- Reading to the HEART, a partnership between the LSU AgCenter and local agencies -- targets youth and families in two Louisiana parishes: Rapides and Madison.
About the Program
The Reading to the HEART Program is a comprehensive, research-based, leisure-time reading program designed to enhance youth reading habits during non-school time and to help parents organize literacy-rich home environments. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase independent reading for youth of all achievement levels while improving attitudes toward books and reading.
The program seeks to:
- Motivate children to read for fun and fall in love with reading and books
- Actively engage parents as partners in their children's education
- Conduct literacy workshops to inform youth development partners on the latest reading research
- Develop community partnerships that support literacy
- Provide opportunities for children to develop advanced reading skills
Drawing on the latest research in reading motivation, the project seeks to help children develop specific reading development skills and educate parents and guardians on ways to support their children’s literacy advancement. The project is a reading-intervention program designed to provide standards-based instruction aligned with two of the essential dimensions of reading as identified by the National Reading Panel: vocabulary development and comprehension. To accomplish the project’s goals, 4-H teen leaders, parents or guardians, teachers and other adult volunteers will work with youth age 8 to 12 to conduct one-on-one reading tutorial activities, after-school reading activities and community-wide literacy events. The project focuses on the National CYFAR Outcome: School-age (K-eight) youth will demonstrate knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior necessary for fulfilling contributing lives.
The program focuses on providing youth with books and other educational resources and engaging them in: (a) motivational reading activities to support the development of improved reading skills and (b) workforce readiness “soft skills” – basic communications, technology and problem-solving – for increased parent/guardian and youth interactive literacy activities in the home and other learning settings.
Program activities are conducted in homes of participants, at schools, during after-school programs and in faith-based and community-based settings. Youth will read books, write book reviews, participate in book discussions, demonstrate reading comprehension through oral presentations and development of computer-generated products and develop portfolios and arts-and-crafts projects on the books read. Teen leaders and adult volunteers (parents/guardians, teachers, peer teachers) will work with the younger children to conduct classroom-based group and one-on-one peer-teaching tutorials, after-school reading activities and community-wide events.
- Book Distributions: Children enrolled in the program have an opportunity to choose books to take home, keep and read -- at no cost to the family.
- Family Literacy and Motivational Activities: Community-wide literacy events are held to provide opportunities for youth and adults to participate in Readers Theatre, Literature Circles and strategies to motivate families to spend more time reading and having fun together.
- Parent and Family University Workshops and Training: Parents and guardians have an opportunity to attend Parent and Family University where they can learn about recommended reading strategies and where to find suggested book list for children and to motivate their child to develop a love for books. Parenting for Academic Success, Partners in Print and other research-based programs will be presented.
- Reading Challenge: Reading to the HEART is a program that brings children and youth together with family and friends to encourage participation in reading activities to build literacy skills. The main focus of Reading to the HEART is a two-week reading challenge. During the reading challenge, participants may read on their own or with family or friends. Listening to someone else read -- in any language -- or reading to someone else also counts toward the total minutes children read books, newspaper or magazine articles, comic books, newsletters or other materials. Participants keep track of the number of minutes they read at home and submit the reading log to receive a mini poster highlighting their accomplishments.
Reading to the HEART Program Staff:
Juanita Johnson, Project Director
Satish Verma, Project Evaluator
Johnny Morgan, Communications Director
Program Site: Madison Parish
Berteal Rogers, Co-Community Site Coordinator
Karol Osborne, Co-Community Site Coordinator
Program Site: Rapides Parish
Ophelia Allen, Community Site Coordinator