Local parents bring literature to life at free classes | SkyHiNews.com
Anna Winkel
For the Sky-Hi News

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Local parents bring literature to life at free classes

Mothereads participant Becca Aithers (as Max) tells the wild things to “Be Still!” The program teaches parents new strategies to increase literacy at home.

A group of wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth on a recent Tuesday evening at the Fraser Valley Elementary School. But they were much taller and more mature than the character Max in Maurice Sendak's classic book, "Where the Wild Things Are." Their roaring and gnashing may have surprised a passerby because these wild things were not kids — they were the parents.

Currently offered at three East Grand schools for eight-week sessions, Grand County parents attend Motheread and Fatheread programs to make reading come to life for their kids. Preschool teacher Diane Jacobsen and kindergarten teacher Molly Rankin are two of the trained facilitators of the program.

"I was drawn to the Motheread-Fatheread program because it emphasizes reading to and with our children," said Jacobsen. "But it goes beyond that by giving parents tools to help increase their child's critical thinking skills."

Literature is central to the program. Parents explore one children's book per week through activities and discussion. Even parents who already read regularly with their children learn new strategies.

"I never read the authors of the books to my kids before," said Caroline Waldow, a mother of two. "And I would have never thought to act it [the book] out myself."

Mother of four Gabrielle Vogelbacher agreed. "I came because of my youngest," she said. "I wanted to see how I could spark his interest in reading more."

As discussions meander from the book's theme to broader topics, the group bonds about parenting, both its joys and challenges.

"I'm finding that it's as much about parenting as it is about teaching your kids to read," said Marie Sullivan of attending the program.

Free child care and dinner is provided during the evening sessions. The kids read the same book and work on a related project like a craft. And the parents get "homework" — a page of story extenders with discussion questions and more creative ways to engage with their children and the books.

Being taught for the first time in Grand County, the Motheread, Inc. program was founded in North Carolina in 1987. According to their website, "by teaching the 'why' of reading rather than just emphasizing the 'how' encourages parents to be reading role models for their children."

Jacobsen agreed. "Parents are truly the most important educators in their child's life. When parents and teachers work together, it greatly improves a child's chance for success."

Mothereads-Fathereads in Grand County is funded by the Northwest Colorado BOCES grant and Colorado Humanities, with local support from The Grand Foundation, Mountain Parks Electric, Remax Peak to Peak, and the Granby Rotary Club.