Read Houston Read

 
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The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation is proud to be a strategic partner of HISD’s Read Houston Read program by providing funding, assisting with volunteer mobilization and management through Connect4Literacy.org, serving as volunteers and offering other supports.

Read Houston Read is a program through which volunteers serve as mentors and read to struggling first-grade students once each week for 30 minutes. Nearly 600 volunteers committed their time to serve as Read Houston Read mentors in person, using Focused Literacy Improvement Program (FLIP) kits designed by the Children’s Museum of Houston or virtually using an online platform called Tutormate, designed by Innovations for Learning.

“We are calling upon the community to come into our schools and help change the lives of children by helping them learn how to read,” said Dr. Terry Grier, former HISD superintendent. “There are so many children in our community who need an adult mentor and someone to spend time reading with them one-on-one. Read Houston Read provides them with these opportunities.”

Will you give just 30 minutes each week to read with a child?

YPG's Tacky Sweater Party

As we mourn the loss of President George H.W. Bush, we find comfort in knowing that he is at peace in Heaven with the love of his life and daughter Robin.

On December 4, we paid tribute to President Bush 41 and his incredible legacy of service to others by volunteering at our Fifth Annual Tacky Sweater book wrapping event at the Children's Museum of Houston. We wrapped home libraries for 1,600 Houston-area children through proceeds raised at the recent Jungle Book Gala.

In honor of our former President and his penchant for fun socks, participants wore crazy or colorful socks, along with tacky holiday garb.

In Loving Memory of George h.w. bUSH

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Today, we mourn the loss of President George H. W. Bush, yet celebrate and give thanks for his incredible life and steadfast service to our great nation.

President Bush was a beloved hero, a respected leader, and a devoted family man. He represented strength, courage, compassion, and all that is good in the world.

He believed, “Any definition of a successful life includes service to others,” and he exemplified this belief through his unwavering love for his country, generosity, and acts of kindness. His resolute drive to do the right thing and the impact he made on our country will remain an inspiration to us. We will forever honor his legacy and follow in his path to be kinder, more giving people.

President Bush recognized the value of community and sought to unify throughout his political career. “We are a nation of communities,” he described in his 1988 inaugural address, “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” He used the office of the presidency to call upon more people to become volunteers and in 1990, he created Points of Light, an organization dedicated to inspiring people across the globe to become volunteers and to engage in meaningful service opportunities to change the world.

While our hearts are heavy, they are also comforted in knowing that he is at peace in Heaven, reunited with his beloved Barbara and their daughter Robin. We send our thoughts and prayers to our founders, Neil and Maria Bush, and the entire Bush family.

Community Spotlight: Shelley Barineau from Missionary Village Apartments

by Shelley Barineau, Managing Owner of Missionary Village Apartments

When my husband and I took over managing ownership of Missionary Village Apartments, we aspired to create a new sense of community.  We wanted to improve the physical plant and facilities, and also reinvent the community as a place our residents would feel proud to live.  Often residents in low-income housing view these complexes as a place to stay - rather than a home.  We really desire to change that mindset.  In our opinion, the best way to reach the hearts of those in our community is through the children.  Most people at Missionary Village Apartments are motivated to help make a difference for the children who live there.

Literacy is a critical issue for the children, as most are either reading well below grade level or fighting functional illiteracy. So, we started looking for literacy programs.  After throwing a bunch of hooks in the water, and evaluating many programs, we were thrilled to learn about the Harris County Library’s Mobile Curiosity Cruiser.  It was perfect for an apartment community.  The Curiosity Cruiser is self-sustaining, and has a solid infrastructure including staff, supplies and a very cheerfully painted bus!  It is incredibly inviting, and the minute the bus drives onto the property it lifts spirits and escalates the expectations of our community.   

We were overwhelmed by the response to the first visit of the Curiosity Cruiser.  So many children wanted to participate and the first day was quite overwhelming.  We realized that we had recognized a need, but we had a lot to learn.  The first few weeks were pretty fluid with over 40 children of all ages pouring into our community room.  The interest was terrific – but needed to be contained. 

That’s when we learned of the professionalism of the Curiosity Cruiser staff.  They pulled in the resources they needed to make our program a success.  They brought volunteers from an affiliated organization that wanted to serve the community.  They increased their consistency and raised the expectation of the children.  Now, we have an established routine.  The children come in, sit down, enjoy the lesson and gain a hands-on substantive STEM learning activity.  We have built electric circuits, aluminum robots and engineered cool contraptions.

After the lesson, the group goes out to the Curiosity Cruiser bus to read and check out a book.  I love that old-fashioned library experience of physically browsing, selecting and checking out books.  Personally, that is a warm and fuzzy moment thinking back to my own childhood library experience.  It is a big deal for these children to have an opportunity to choose a book, and the responsibility to bring it back.  For our population, it’s a bigger deal for them be able to have something of their own and keep it at home. The change in the feeling around the property when the Curiosity Cruiser comes is tangible and happy – simply extraordinary.

One boy comes to mind when I think of the Curiosity Cruiser’s impact.  He always walks around the property in a sweatshirt with the hood pulled up.  One of the first weeks he came to the community center and just watched – never taking off his hoodie.  Several weeks after that, he participated but did not take off his hoodie.  Last week I saw his face for the first time, hoodie off, smiling and talking to a younger child while they were working on the lesson.  It was magical!

What we have learned is that the value of this program is not just about reading.  The Curiosity Cruiser is consistent and stable. The same people show up each week and truly invest in the children, modeling proper behaviors and school room etiquette. It provides the kids an opportunity to connect with another person who cares about them learning.  However, probably most importantly, the Curiosity Cruiser’s greatest value is that they have committed to our community for 12 weeks.  The children rely on the Curiosity Cruiser.  They ask about it.  They are excited for the activities and engagement. They are enthusiastic and eager to participate. The Curiosity Cruiser has developed a serious following!

The entire community depends on the programming. It’s building and elevating our expectations for the community, young and old.  In fact, a woman who has lived in the complex for over 30 years stopped by the other day to donate books. That’s terrific!

What the Curiosity Cruiser is doing is truly important!  We are so grateful for the professionalism, structure and consistency.  It is something special!

Jungle Book Gala raises nearly $300,000 for childhood literacy initiatives

The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Young Professionals Group hosted its 4th annual black-tie Jungle Book Gala on November 9, 2018. This year’s event was held at one of Houston’s newest venues – The Revaire. The event, chaired by Amy and Kyle McCully, Morgan Stautzenberger and Cameron Stubbs, was attended by a record breaking 400 guests.

The event raised nearly $300,000. All proceeds benefit the childhood literacy initiatives led by the Young Professionals Group in support of the Foundation’s mission. YPG seeks to engage young professionals in Houston’s ongoing literacy crisis by creating opportunities for members to read, lead and serve our next generation.

Shop for a Cause

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GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on November 27 and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back. Stay tuned for more information!

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In the meantime, you can shop for a cause year-round through our partnerships with Amazon Smile, iGive.com, Kroger Community Rewards Programs and Randall’s Good Neighbor Program. The Foundation receives a portion of the proceeds from purchases at participating stores. Learn how you can support us with every-day purchases: https://www.bushhoustonliteracy.org/shopforacause/

Share your story

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We would love for you to share your story with us! Like so many others that have appeared on our blog, we think your story is worth hearing. Tell us about your passion for service and literacy, how literacy has impacted your life and how you are now making a difference in the community through the power of literacy. Please share below!

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Bubbles & Books

Ladies for Literacy Guild members and invited guests gathered for the group’s fall Membership Drive at River Oaks Book Store hosted by Ginger Blanton and Pam Sengelmann, co-vice presidents of membership. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by the Curiosity Cruiser, a one-of-a-kind mobile library that travels to low-income Houston neighborhoods providing books to children in need. During the event, attendees learned more about the impactful work being done by the Guild, while shopping the store and enjoying light bites and champagne. Attendees had an opportunity to join the Ladies for Literacy Guild. In addition, author Julie Manier and her son Grant, eco-artist and illustrator of the book Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe, were on hand with a selection of his artwork, books and Giraffe products. Guests also had the chance to purchase limited-edition aprons that had strands of pearls printed around the neck, a staple in Barbara Bush’s wardrobe, and featured one of her most famous quotes: “The most important things in life are faith, family and friends.” It was a fun event with guests surrounded by books and sharing the power of reading and service to others.

10 Ways to Foster Family Literacy

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For nearly 30 years, our beloved Barbara Bush was a champion for family literacy across our nation because she believed reading learning to read begins in the home and that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher. November is National Family Literacy Awareness Month, so we wish to spotlight the importance of family literacy and provide you with ways to foster a literacy-rich environment in your own home.

Family Literacy is a type of literacy education that emphasizes bringing reading and writing into the home and making it a family activity. Research presented by the National Center for Education Statistics has proven that family engagement is one of the most important factors of literacy development, and that children enter kindergarten at a higher reading level when they have a positive learning environment at home. When literary success is highly encouraged and supported by the family, children are more likely to want to read, enjoy reading, and excel academically in all subjects.

The best things you can do for your children for academic success are also the simplest and most natural. Below are ways to foster family literacy in your home.

1.    Let your child see you reading.

2.    Read more than books together -- read road signs, food labels, etc.

3.    Let your child pick out the books you read together.

4.    Visit the library together.

5.    Ask your child questions about the books or pictures.

6.    Find ways to relate the stories to your child’s life.

7.    Create and tell your own stories.

8.    Sing songs and rhymes together with your child.

9.    Write notes to each other and to others.

10.  Create a special place for books and reading time.

“You know, sit with your arm around a little kid. It not only teaches them to read, but it keeps the family strong.” Barbara Bush