Family library encourages parent and child reading time

Every day before 4-year-old Carlina Martinez goes home, she grabs a book from the family library at her child care center, Bright Stars Academy in north Houston.

“My little one loves the library” said Carlina’s mother Gracie Martinez. “It’s her ritual. She checks out a book and when we get home she has me read the book to her. Then she has her sister read it and then she has her dad read it. She has developed a love for reading.”

The family library is a gift from Collaborative for Children. Every child care center that participates in the agency’s College Bound from Birth program, receives a library stocked with children’s books and activity packets to encourage family engagement around early learning. The library also provides books for children who might not have access to books in their home or neighborhood. In low-income areas, research shows there’s one book for every 300 children.

Having its own special library is one of several changes at Bright Stars Academy since Martinez’s two older daughters – now 11 and 14 – attended the center, Martinez said.

Family engagement is an important component of the College Bound from Birth program because we know parents play a significant role in their child’s educational development. Participating centers, with support from Collaborative for Children, are encouraged to host parenting sessions, resource fairs and family activity nights throughout the year. Bright Star Academy has just completed its second year in the program.

“It’s a great program,” said Martinez, who has attended some of the parent activities at Bright Stars Academy. “You have to be involved in your child’s learning for them to succeed and be a positive influence in society.”

During a recent parenting session, Martinez said she learned how to reinforce good behavior and how to redirect her child to lessen temper tantrums. At a resource fair, she received a list of recommended books on best practices to use when teaching your child letters and numbers.

The mother of three encourages every parent to participate in family engagement activities at home and at their child care center. It’s an opportunity to network with other parents, learn new information and build parenting skills that can help their child learn and have long-term success, she said.