Farmersville makes collective impact toward childhood literacy

Farmersville’s Boys and Girls Club on Avery Avenue in Farmersville, Ca. (Rigo Moran)

Farmersville organizations work together for 10 years to provide more opportunities for kids to read and increase childhood literacy

FARMERSVILLE – Farmersville knows the third grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn. Now Farmersville collectively created more opportunities for kids to engage with reading in everyday life through their Lea Conmigo program.

A cohort of organizations have spent the last 10 years trying to increase the literacy of children in Farmersville. By giving them more opportunities to read as well as normalizing reading everywhere they go, it encourages kids to read more often.

“According to research, if kids don’t read at grade level by the third grade, they struggle in school, the rest of their school career,” Galen Quenzer executive director at Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sequoias said. “That’s such an important milestone.”

One of the main goals of the program is to have children reading at their grade level by the third grade. According to the former president and coordinator of teen parenting and headstart programs for Read For Life, Deborah Lagomarsino, the third grade is an important milestone because reading is foundational to all the new material in school after the third grade. So being able to learn the more advanced curriculum without proper reading skills makes it difficult not to fall behind.

“Lea Conmigo” translated to “read with me” emphasizes the impact of community and family involvement. The program is an ongoing effort and commitment from the community to make engagement with reading more normal and accessible to children, as well as encourage families to read to children.

“We try to target areas where families go together like sporting events… where they’re engaged with family being there, and the children can have that experience with someone reading to them,” Lagomarsino said. “Also getting to take a book home, which has more interest for them, can keep them coming back a second time.”

The Farmersville Lea Conmigo program includes organizations such as Read for Life, the Boys and Girls Club, the City of Farmersville, Farmersville Unified, Farmersville Branch Library, Boys & Girls Clubs, Save the Children, Tulare County Office of Education, Family Healthcare Network and Proteus. The point of working together on the program and sharing resources is that it takes a “collective impact” as a community to improve the literacy of kids.

“We’re really here for all the organizations to work in a community-based way instead of working individually or, operating in silos that have similar goals,” Lagomarsino said. “We’ve just found that the collective impact has been far more resourceful, and we really act more as a resource center for Farmersville because they do not have one yet.”

Some of the projects done by the program include: supporting the Farmersville Branch Library as it got established, stocking and creating four Little Free Libraries, providing reading corners in businesses, as well as organizing Sports Reading Corners at community football and soccer games.

The program gauges its success based on the involvement they have in its programs. While the programs did have a dip in attendance from the aftermath of the pandemic, the engagement with the program is increasing again.

“COVID hit and we were kind of stopped for a while,” Lagomarsino said. “Now it seems like all of our numbers as of actually, are up tenfold.”

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