Volume 7, Number 1
Reading is Relative--Supporting Family Reading
Information & Assistance Team Leader
Mid-East Area Agency on Aging
A child’s interest in and ability to read affects all aspects of
his/her education and sets a foundation for a lifetime of learning.
In addition, a family that reads together may develop a sense of
Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (MEAAA) is sponsoring a program called
Reading is Relative which encourages and supports family reading. In
addition, the program encourages and supports relative caregivers in
their sometimes daunting task of raising grandchildren, nieces,
nephews and other relatives. The Reading is Relative program is
funded by a grant from the Brookdale Foundation and receives in-kind
support from Mid-East Area Agency on Aging.
MEAAA identified school districts in St. Louis County which had a
high concentration of households headed by a relative caregiver.
With the assistance of Early Childhood Education Departments and
Parents as Teachers Parent Educators, we recruited families with
children ages 0-5 years.
A wonderful partner emerged from our local Gateway Grandparent
Kinship Network, and a relationship was forged between Mid-East Area
Agency on Aging and the Parents As Teachers National Center’s
Curriculum Developer. Her expertise in the field of child
development has proved invaluable in planning and carrying out group
events with our participants. In addition, she has the knowledge to
respond to questions posed by the group regarding children’s
behaviors and growth.
Our Reading is Relative group meets every month at Senior Towne in
Northwest Plaza. Participants are encouraged to bring the children
in their care if possible, to allow for
interaction between all families. Incentives are offered such as
books, tote bags and notebooks. Other activity-appropriate items
such as pizza gift cards to support a “family read in” and bookstore
gift cards to help our families fill their own bookshelves are given
to those attending our gatherings.
In the months that we do not plan a gathering, a newsletter is sent
to each household. This one page bulletin allows for a recap of our
last get-together, details of our next event and a “Spotlight on
Resources” corner. We’ve found that offering a fun, activity-filled
event, lends itself well to being an ideal way for caregivers to
relax, discuss, ask questions and support each other.