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  • Writer's pictureEllis

Raising a Reader


In March Ellis began an exciting new early literacy partnership that fosters reading skills by engaging families in the pleasures of reading to their children. All Ellis children ages 4 weeks to 5 years in all three sites are participating, and the initial response is overwhelmingly positive.


Raising a Reader provides colorful red bags of developmentally-appropriate books that reflect many cultures, languages, and themes. Each bag provides a selection of four books, and every week a new bag offers new choices. Books are provided in a variety of languages with an emphasis on what’s known as dialogic reading. In simple, everyday terms, that means talking with children about what they see on the page, regardless of the words that are written.


One Ellis mom shares, “The red book bags create a lot of excitement at home. Each night my daughter is eager to read a new book from the bag with me. I love engaging with her in this way, and it really feels like the library comes to us!”


The program gives parents basic suggestions about how to make this time satisfying and educational. Ideas include:

  • Let your child take an active part in choosing books from the bag and the time to start and end the activity. This independent role helps the child be more engaged and empowered.

  • Describe and ask questions about what you see on the page. When you talk about how a story connects to your home life and your child’s experiences, you bring the story to life even more.

  • Use different voices, act out scenes, share songs, or play games along with the pages to make the book experience more playful and active.

This close engagement of parents and children over books requires no special skills, simply a shared interest in talking about what they see. Raising a Reader makes this pleasurable activity easy for busy families by bringing books right into the home. The activity can give structure and focus to the end of a busy day and bring parents and children closer together.


The benefits outside the family are also significant. Research shows that dialogic reading fosters language skills and a love of reading. In this way, the program helps prepare children for future success.


Ellis is constantly seeking additional ways to enhance its program offerings for children and families, and Raising a Reader’s early literacy focus is a perfect fit.


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