Meeting families where they are
Right now, 4 out of 5 young children in our community do not have access to high-quality early education. We're committed to giving young children the quality early educational experiences they deserve. We travel out into the community to provide our Family Education and Literacy programs where families already spend their time. Through our Family Education and Literacy programs like Project 110, Cover to Cover, and Raising A Reader, we provide a two-generation approach where children and parents learn together each week. Children are engaged in shared reading and literacy activities with their peers while parents gain skills and tools to help their children thrive in school and life. Stories like Veronica’s are evidence of the real impact for children and entire families.
"This experience has given me a lot of tools to help my kids develop and grow. It's helped me learn about taking the time to talk and tune-in to my kids. I think that being a part of Make Way for Books helped my daughter’s social development because she got to be around other kids. Now she’s in kindergarten. She’s only 4 but she was ready for school and she’s taking off! I really think that Make Way for Books has had a huge impact on her. It has really helped her imagination and vocabulary grow."
At each session, families received books and literacy resources to continue learning at home. For families like Veronica’s, these books are powerful tools. "Make Way for Books has built our home library and we share those books every day. Stories like 'Words in Your Heart' are the stories we share in terms of lessons about how the words that you say can impact someone else’s heart, good or bad. The books you give us really are tools for us to talk to our kids about emotions and the world that we live in,” explained Veronica.
Empowering educators through The Story Project
"Our classroom environment has changed to fit the children's literacy needs in ways we were not always aware that they needed."
With your support, Make Way for Books provides comprehensive early literacy programming for thousands of young children, families, and educators through The Story Project. Last year, we provided professional development workshops and coaching for 943 early childhood educators throughout southern Arizona. Our highly-experienced Early Literacy Specialists provided books, resources, and support to ensure educators have strategies, tools, and confidence to support the early literacy and language-development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in their care. Through workshops covering topics including STEM and literacy, social-emotional skills, effective book sharing, emergent writing, and more, our Early Literacy Specialists work to address the specific concerns and needs for support of children and educators in our programming. Because of your support, we can tell stories like these:
"Thanks to Make Way for Books we are given books, bookshelves, and an abundance of support and guidance. With the supplies and ideas given to us we have been able to create a small but cozy reading area so the children can have their time if they want to read, calm down or just read with their friends. Our classroom environment is an encouraging, intellectual, and loving environment thanks to the support and guidance we have gotten. The children have more opportunities to feel comfortable and confident in themselves."
"This program has helped us a lot― myself and my husband, as we are first-time parents― to help our daughter when she enters kindergarten...."
The leap into kindergarten is a big transition. Thanks to supporters like you, we can help make it a smooth one. Through our Make Way for Kindergarten programming, we focused on skills children will need when they enter school and prepare little ones (and their parents) for success! According to participating parents:
"They helped us walk them through what they’ll do from the beginning, where the library is, the cafeteria, what they’ll do, where they’ll go if they get sick, how to ask for help, and how to communicate with their teachers. I’m very grateful…many thanks for this program and for offering it in Spanish and English."
The latest science indicates the importance of early literacy and language support for children ages birth to three. We worked to harness the incredible potential for learning during the first three years of a child’s life, ensuring infants and toddlers in our community are surrounded by literacy and language-rich environments that foster healthy literacy, language, and brain development.
“I learned that everything we do throughout the day gives us a new opportunity to help my daughter grow and develop language. Before I would be very intentional about when learning time would take place. I would say, 'Now we’re going to do shapes, or colors, or letters.' But now I know that learning happens whenever I talk to her!”
3 years and 19 neighborhoods
Through Neighborhood School Readiness, we focused literacy programming at and around local neighborhood schools where there are low third-grade reading scores and high rates of children living in poverty. The project provided professional development for educators as well as family engagement programming for children without access to high-quality early education to a total of 19 neighborhoods during the three-year project.
Across all project components, 97% of children developed emergent literacy and language skills, 98% of parents indicated they gained skills, knowledge, and confidence in supporting their children’s early development, and 98% of educators gained skills and resources to better support the early development of children.
Demonstrating long-term impact, a study of a sample of children in the project found that 75% of children who participated in the project during their Pre-K year went on to score at or above benchmarks on the school district’s standardized reading assessments given in kindergarten, first, second, and third grades.
The impact of our Neighborhood School Readiness Project is best seen in the stories of children and families.
“Being a part of this community with families gave me more ideas, more confidence. The experience is beyond what I expected. It brought us together. I worried my kids would struggle in school like me. This experience helps kids learn how to focus, to be engaged with books and each other. My son [Julian] never went to preschool but he got those concepts and was ready for school because of this. He loves school. He loves reading. And he is excelling in everything!”
Julian just started first grade. According to our data and a follow-up with Julian’s teachers, Julian’s DIBELS scores are in the top percentile and he is a top student in his classroom, demonstrating strong literacy, language, and comprehension skills as well as well-developed social-emotional skills and approaches to learning.
Last year, 411 volunteers dedicated their time delivering books, reading to children, creating puppets and resources for teachers and families, and more. We couldn’t have made such an impact for children without every one of you.
Students from the ACT program at Tucson Unified School District are among our most dedicated volunteers, visiting our office each week to process, sort, clean, and deliver books for our Blue Book House Project. Through the ACT program, students with disabilities gain experience with job tasks and transferable vocational skills that prepare them for future jobs. Volunteer Dyai shared,
"We love helping here. My favorite thing is helping with donations, sorting and cleaning books, and just helping children to read more. At Make Way for Books, I feel happy, I feel calm, and I feel focused. I like coming here to help people."
Through collaboration, we are building a stronger system that breaks down barriers to ensure that young children have early literacy and learning experiences that are the foundation for future learning and success. Last year Make Way for Books partnered with more than 400 organizations and agencies throughout Arizona. According to Arizona State Literacy Director, Terri Clark,
“When I think of the literacy landscape of Arizona, there are few early literacy organizations that have made a footprint on the state like Make Way for Books. Make Way for Books has been effectively targeting the birth through five literacy space and is making a real difference; they have a track record for improving literacy outcomes and they have developed strategies that are data-driven, strength-based and culturally relevant to our unique communities here in Arizona.”
For longtime supporters, Jim and Dee Ann Sakrison, giving children the chance to become lifelong learners and readers has been a priority for more than a decade. Dee Ann became a Storytime Volunteer in 2001, sharing,
“I was so impressed with the vision for Make Way for Books. The growth I’ve seen has been unreal. We value Make Way for Books’ mission and see it in action around the community. Everyone at Make Way for Books is so enthusiastic and new ideas are implemented exceptionally. We value their partnerships with other organizations. The particular need in our community that they are tackling really touches our hearts.