Family Voices

BULLETIN: Today is the last day to vote for the August Hall of Fame Poet!! If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to pick your choice and vote before 10:00 p.m. EST. Go to this link,, click in the circle by your choice, and click on vote at the bottom of the box. If you want to reread the poems, they’re listed below the ballot box.

I’m involved in a project to stimulate parents to read more often to their preschool children. We’re in the process of recording voices of area celebrity readers to create a library of good books read on a CD. When we’re finished, we’ll add the voices of parents to personalize each CD, then give it and a free book to the family. Here’s an article that appeared in Springfield News-Leader last week.

FAMILY VOICES, Connecting Generations with StoriesThis fall, several child advocates will launch a project called Family Voices: Connecting Generations with Stories. The goal is to help your children succeed in school. We’re going to do it by reading stories to them.

Sound radical? It is in many homes.

Only 54 percent of our nation’s children under age 5 are read to at home on a regular basis. That drops to 36 percent in families living at the poverty level; 31 percent when neither parent is a high school graduate.

That’s like withholding tools a child needs for a good life. Literature’s words through stories build a child’s language skills, and kids who are good with language are more likely to succeed in school. Poor readers at the end of first grade are likely to remain poor readers after fourth grade, and become prime candidates for dropping out of school.

Family Voices is an effort to make more parents aware of the positive long-term effects of reading daily to their preschool children. Beginning this fall with a trial effort at Boyd and McGregor elementary schools, project volunteers will record parents reading to their preschool children. Age-appropriate books will be selected by children’s librarians and provided at the recording session.

The parents’ voices will be preserved on a CD along with the voices of more than a dozen community leaders reading more stories. The result will be a treasury of more than one hour of stories for young children, read by adults who want kids to grow up loving books and literacy.

Each participating family will receive the CD that includes their own voices, and one free book for each child under age 5 in the family. Even when a parent is unavailable to read to a child, the CD will provide opportunities to listen to good stories read well, and help the child develop a love for books and the magic of words.

Family Voices is an independent committee of literacy advocates whose members represent Drury University, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield-Greene County Library District, Parents as Teachers, and community leaders. The project is sponsored by Drury University’s School of Education and Child Development and chaired by its poet laureate, David Harrison.


One comment on “Family Voices

  1. David, what a wonderful program. The other day in a store I overheard a grandfather talking to his granddaughter in the book area. She wanted a particular book. He picked it up and told her to read it. She had difficult pronouning the first few words. He angrily remarked, ” You can’t read. You better have a baby book.”

    My heart went out to her and I wanted to say to her grandfather, “Why don’t you teach Her.” But no, I turned and walked away. This will alway haunt me.

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