New Haven, CT – An Urban Community with 19 Distinct Neighborhoods
Celebrating it’s tenth year with READy for the Grade, New Haven Free Public Library’s Wilson Branch resumed full onsite programming in 2022 with more hours and unique educational activities and partnerships. Educators offered sight word practice with live musical accompaniment, bi-lingual reading aloud, and movement and arts-based literacy activities, plus family nights, puppet shows, and health and nutrition tips.
Also in 2022, NHFPL launched READy for the Grade at the Stetson Branch located in the Dixwell Q-House Community Center. Stetson’s programming included 45-minutes of individual instruction per child per week, plus small group learning, mindfulness techniques, parent engagement, and take-home books and activities.
NHFPL Wilson Branch ran 330 hours of programming over 7 weeks, offering a total of 33 hours of programming per child.
13 children participated an average of 31 hours, including family nights.
100% of children who attended RfG Wilson Branch retained or improved their reading skills during the 7-week program, though 4 must continue enhancing their skills to meet grade level standards.
New Haven’s Stetson Branch offered a total of 52 hours of programming to 8 children over 6 weeks.
Using Pioneer Valley assessments, Stetson Branch staff tested 6 children at the start and end of summer. 100% maintained or increased their reading skills.
What New Haven Parents Say
“I would make RfG
more frequent! Every day if possible.”
“My daughter gained a great deal of confidence. She’s still shy, but I see her raising her hand more often.”
“I like that he
learned lots of words,
even before kindergarten.”
Activities start on a high note at the Wilson Branch today, as “Miss M” sings and plays guitar to accompany a group rhyming and spelling activity. This uplifting exercise prepares children for an activity many adults find scary: public speaking. Now, with help from program leader Miss Geoconda, students present the projects they completed at last week’s family night.
As their energy settles, the children are primed to focus on Biblioburro, an illustrated true story about a man who creates a mobile library for children in remote Colombian villages, using his donkeys and a collection of books. Instructors read Biblioburro aloud in Spanish and English and lead a group discussion about the story.
After the story, the children break into small groups to work on literacy activities targeted to their skill levels. Everyone reconvenes on the big rug, where each child explains their work to the group, then hangs it on the wall. Next up is Sight Word Rap, a fun movement-based activity that gets kids singing, spelling aloud, jumping and dancing to the words and images projected on a screen.
Recharging with a snack gives these rising K-3rd graders the mental stamina to enjoy another book: I Like Myself. The reading naturally leads into a conversation about which aspects each child likes about themselves. The day ends with sight word reading, a final song to practice rhyming words, and a sounding-out activity.
A Window Into
READy for the Grade 2022
Today’s lesson is about the L sound. But teacher Shefau Dabre doesn’t dive into the material. Reading requires focus, which can be especially challenging for children experiencing heightened excitement or stress. So this 45-minute one-on-one session begins with a relaxation exercise in which teacher and student stand and face one another. Ms. Dabre has the child place one hand on his heart and one on his belly. While the teacher expands and contracts a therapeutic breathing ball, she instructs the child to inhale as he watches the ball open and exhale as he sees it close. When the student feels more relaxed and focused, they sit together and open the story At the Library on a tablet.
First, they look at the title page, noting the names of the author and illustrator. The teacher reminds the student to listen for the L sound as she reads a few pages aloud. She pauses frequently to ensure he understands the story. Now, she invites the child to read to her, and stops him occasionally to offer reading tips. The student does a great job identifying L sounds in the story. Together, they review a worksheet about the L sound that includes a series of images. The student’s challenge is to identify which pictures depict a word that begins with L. He sails through the activity.
When they finish reading, they discuss the concept of a main idea. While the student completes a worksheet to solidify the concept in his mind, Ms. Dabre encourages him with comments about his specific way of working. “I loved the way you looked at the pictures – good readers do that,” she says. “Good job looking back in the book to help find details. It’s like doing research.”
The student decides he’ll illustrate each detail about the story’s main idea at home. He’ll also bring home a printed copy of the book to read to a family member, along with the main idea worksheet. A third worksheet will help him practice writing sentences with periods.
For details, download the independent evaluation of READy for the Grade.
All Kids Need to Read
READy for the Grade serves a diverse population, with programs in rural, suburban, and urban communities. The challenges of living and learning with low income vary by setting. Click the site name for details.