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Parents Are First and Most Important Teacher

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Las Cruces, NM – On this edition of PUENTES, bridges to the community, host Emily Guerra met with Children’s Reading Alliance Programs Manager, Maria Zuniga, to promote children’s literacy in areas such as Chaparral, Sunland Park, Anthony, Vado, Hatch and Las Cruces. In 2011 the Children’s Reading Alliance began with a mission to engage families and the community to “raise readers together.” She says parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and should read with a child 20 minutes a day.

The first program they created in 2012 was “First Teacher/Primer Maestro,” a six-week class for families who are bi-lingual or monolingual in Spanish. Over 1,000 families have earned certificates since the program began. Zuniga says it is a bi-lingual program for parents with children ages 3 to 5 years old. They now have four programs, the newest is “Summer Book Buddies” where volunteers provide story time opportunities and distribute free books to encourage reading for pleasure during the k-3+ summer program at the Las Cruces Public Schools. Their goal this summer is to purchase 10,000 books to be able to give out 4 books per child. In order to accomplish their goal they have set up a special account at www.gofundme.com\givingbooks. The Children’s Reading Alliance is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, all contributions are fully tax deductible.

A third program is “Reading Buddies at School” which offers individual support to a struggling beginning reader in an elementary school setting. All Reading Buddies are volunteers who have submitted background checks required by the school district. And their fourth program is “Babies & Books”, a partnership with Memorial Medical Center Auxiliary to make sure new Moms know that it is never too early to start a read-aloud habit with their babies. For more information visit www.childrensreadingalliance.org or visit on Facebook at The Children’s Reading Alliance.