Family Voices waves goodbye

Hi everyone,

Yesterday morning Family Voices held its “Waving Goodbye” celebration on the campus of Drury University. It was a beautiful day and we said our goodbyes with full hearts and high spirits. I wanted to share a couple of pictures taken by Jackie Rehwald at News-Leader.

Of the nearly eighty people who participated in some way over our seven year run, twenty signed up to attend. Considering that we held the event at 7:30 in the morning, I thought that was a remarkable percentage!

We gave away our remaining books to students at Shady Dell Elementary and received some sweet thank you notes and pictures. Then Laurie Edmondson and I, on behalf of Family Voices, presented to Cindy Howell our remaining funds of $1,046.05, which she accepted on behalf of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Thank you, dear hearts all, for our work that reached into 1,000 families, preaching our gospel about reading to young children. We can’t know if we did any good. But to think we did not is unacceptable.

We said this was going to be our “Waving Goodbye” party, and we meant it.

Now spread the word: READ TO YOUR KIDS!

Farewell to Ozarks Family Voices

Hi everyone,

Today is the final day for Family Voices. In some ways it’s a sad day, but we elected to leave on a high note rather than dwell on our decision to discontinue our organized efforts to remind parents to read to their children. Here’s what I sent out to the eighty or so people who participated one way or another in Family Voices since 2009 when I proposed the idea to Laurie Edmondson, Dean of Education and Child Development at Drury University, shown here at a different party when we introduced the book and DVD series that we co-authored — LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. David and Laurie

Family Voices to hold “Waving Goodbye” party

Ozarks Family Voices reached its final chapter this year. To celebrate, remember, and remind, Family Voices is having a “Waving Goodbye” party on Tuesday morning, Nov. 29, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. with a brief ceremony at 8:30. The celebration will take place in the Ballroom of Findlay Student Center on the Drury campus.

We’re inviting everyone who has had a hand in making Family Voices successful. Guests of those involved and media are also welcome. Light breakfast will be provided.
We’ll announce at the party that we’re giving our remaining 243 books to children at Shady Dell Elementary School and donating our remaining funds of $1,046.05 to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, enough to sponsor more than 40 children for one year.

Read to your kids.

For the past seven years Ozarks Family Voices has urged parents to read to their children routinely. As we hand off the baton to other agencies with similar goals, we do so with pride in having reached roughly 1,000 children with free books plus personalized CD collections of stories read by local leaders and celebrities.

Read to your kids.

Family Voices has been 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 was sponsored by Drury’s School of Education and Child Development. Since we began, 80 people have been involved serving on the steering committee, our advisory panel, or as celebrity readers. Many of us are involved in other literacy projects so we’re not going away. We’re retiring the name Family Voices, not its spirit.

For further information, contact David Harrison (417-881-0084) or Laurie Edmondson (417-873-7569).

Read to your kids.

As a permanent reminder of our mantra and mission, we’ve established a Facebook page at It’s still in progress but I hope you will check it out and like it. And tell everyone you know: READ TO YOU KIDS!

Revamping Family Voices

Hi everyone,
We started Family Voices in 2009 as a means to reach out to parents of children five or under and inspire them to read to their children every day. To do this we created a CD collection of children’s books selected by librarians and recorded by community leaders. When a parent or other family member comes to let us record them reading a story, we add it to the CD to personalize it and give the CD to the parent with a free book for each child in the family under five. We also established a website, OZARKS FAMILY VOICES, where anyone can hear the recordings. We recently added a second and third group of recordings.

The importance of reading to young children is well established yet fewer than 50% of families read to their kids on a routine basis. Family Voices has been working to make a difference for seven years now and I can tell you that it is difficult and time consuming to reach anywhere near as many people as we need to.

Today at 12:30 I’m meeting with a subcommittee to see what we might do to streamline our efforts going forward. We have some ideas that may help us reach more of our targeted audience. I hope so! I’ll let you know how it goes.


The trials of making a video

Hi everyone,

Wintry day with sleet in the forecast. Let’s hear it from everyone who likes winter.
Sony Hocklander
Yesterday my friend Sony Hocklander came to the house to make a video of me promoting Ozarks Family Voices. Here’s the script for the three minute project.

Hello, I’m David Harrison for Ozarks Family Voices, a program run by literacy advocates who know how important it is to read to children on a regular basis during their years of fastest development – from birth to age five.

When you make reading to your child a nightly routine, you’re doing more than sharing precious quiet time with your little one. You are also providing one of the best gifts any parent can give a child. When kindergarten rolls around, children who have been read to at home are better prepared to learn than those who have not.

Learn more about us on our website. (
Here is how you can become involved with Family Voices.
Call Gail Gourley at The Library Center on South Campbell. (417-882-0714.)
Or call Cathy Farr at The Library Station on North Kansas Expressway. (417-865-1340.)

Make a date to go in and read a book for your child under five years old. Bring your own book or let us provide one to read. We’ll record your voice and add it to the first track of a free CD containing 25 other stories recorded by community leaders. Not only that, we’ll give you a free book for each child in your immediate family.

When you’re too busy to read to your child, play the CD or download all twenty-five stories from our website to your computer or other device. Almost 1,000 parents have already recorded their voices and collected their free CDs and books. Please join us! It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s free, it takes only a few minutes, and it’s oh so important.

On behalf of Ozarks Family Voices (and your child), we thank you.

During the course of making the video, we paused more than once for flocks of geese flying past the patio gabbing among themselves loudly enough to be heard on the recording. We took down the wind chimes in the back yard for the same reason. Finding the right space with the right light on a gloomy day required moving some furniture: sofa, chairs, lamps, and such. The phone rang twice. Once was from a neighbor telling me that the bald eagle had returned and was perched at the top of a tree at the north end of the lake. We broke for that! I’m eager to see the pictures that Sony took with her Canon camera. Later Sony returned to the yard to collect pictures of dozens of geese easing across the ice covered lake.

Although the script is short and I wrote it, I perform better when freewheeling than when reading from a prepared talk. We decided it would be better to shoot in short sections and I would talk to the camera instead of working from the script. That went better if you don’t count a lot of start-overs for one slip of the tongue or another. I’m grateful to Sony for her patience. I’m sure she hadn’t scheduled so much time into her Saturday afternoon for this little project. I hope the shots of eagle and geese helped make it worthwhile for her!

Meanwhile, Family Voices will soon have a new video to go with one made earlier at The Edge in Springfield’s Midtown Library. Both will be available to help us continue our efforts to attract as many parents as we can to let us record their voices and encourage them to read on a nightly basis to their children. It’s that important.

Family Voices

BULLETIN: The blog hit the 200,000 mark yesterday evening around 6:00. Thanks to all and a special thanks to Kathy Temean who created my blog as well as my website in 2009.

Hi everyone,

You’ve heard me talk about FAMILY VOICES before. Here in Springfield we’re working hard to encourage families to read to their children, especially kids under five. In this month’s issue of 417 Magazine we got a nice boost for our efforts. Here’s the link for anyone interested in seeing the article.

Family Voices is currently preparing a second CD of twenty-five readers each reading an age appropriate book for children. This CD will join the original one and all 50 books will be available on the FAMILY VOICES website. Here’s the link to that.

The CDs are free to the family that participates in the program by letting us record someone (mom, dad, older sibling, grandparent, etc.). We add that voice to the CD to personalize it and also add a free book for each child in the family under five.

If you know anyone in Springfield with children under five who has not yet participated, please tell them about this and urge them to call The Library Center to make a recording date. Thanks!