Bring me a Book Foundation gives kids an early start on reading
By Rich Archbold
Five-year-old Abigail Villegas’ eyes lit up when she was asked about “Caps for Sale,” a popular children’s book.
The book, a 1938 classic written by Esphyr Slobodkina, tells the story of a cap salesman who has his hats stolen by monkeys, but he outsmarts them and gets his hats back.
The story teaches children about how to solve problems.
It was one of Abigail’s favorite books in a unique parent-child reading program developed by the Bring Me a Book Foundation.
“My daughter and I developed a super bond, having time to read books together,” her mother, Christian Valeria Sandoval, told a packed auditorium at McBride High School in Long Beach.
Abigail and her parents and grandmother were celebrating her graduation from a 30-week, in-home reading program completed by more than 400 YMCA children and families from five YMCA Greater Long Beach Early Childhood Education sites.
Bring Me a Book Foundation, founded in 1997 by Judy Koch, a former junior high school English teacher, provides books and other material to help preschool children read.
“Most of the families we serve do not have easy access to books,” said Andrea Sulsona, executive director of the YMCA early education program. “BMAB meets that need.”
Barbara Egyud, a BMAB staff member, said reading and literacy can be life-changing for low-income families.
“If parents are the child’s first teacher, then the home is the first classroom,” Egyud said.
There’s no question about the importance of early reading.
“Study after study proves that children who have exposure to high quality books, and who are read to on a daily basis, do better in school,” said Dale Petrulis, Bring Me a Book’s Southern California’s regional manager.
She said that, by the first grade, most middle-income families have read to their child for an average of 1,000 hours, but, for low-income children, that number drops to 25 hours.
Petrulis provided another startling statistic: Only one in 10 children who do not read on grade level by the third grade will ever achieve reading proficiency.
At the graduation ceremony, Beverly O’Neill, former Long Beach mayor, congratulated parents on taking the time, at least 20 minutes a day, to read to their children.
“What you are doing is so important for your children and yourselves,” O’Neill said. “It’s a win-win-win.”
Abigail’s mom said having different kinds of books about history, fantasy and adventure in different languages was “awesome.”
Another mother, Sarah Grimsbo, said her favorite part of the program was drawing and writing about the stories she and her daughter, Bernice, read in a journal.
“I was surprised and impressed at how much she was actually learning from what we read together, and I was able to see how much she is learning in school as well,” she said.
This is the YMCA’s first year in participating in the Bring Me a Book program. Other participants in Greater Long Beach include Young Horizons, Un Mundo de Amigos and Preschool Without Walls at Burnett and Mark Twain Library.
Egyud said the foundation also is about to launch its program with the Long Beach Unified School District’s Early and Head Start classes.
“This is a huge project that will reach over 2,200 children and parents,” Egyud said.
These children, like Abigail and Bernice, will be fortunate to have the resources of the Bring Me a Book Foundation to help them read, a necessary and enjoyable skill that will pay off for them the rest of their lives.
Author: Rich Archbold
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