Latino Family Literacy Project staff members pose at the last meeting, December 10, 2012 at Kuser Elementary School. Pictured are (back) first grade teacher Mary DeRose , principal Roberto Kesting and Mary Jane Flaherty of Title I (front) fourth grade teacher Diana Alessi, second grade teacher Krystal Kanickij , Transitional first grade teacher Jen Kolesar and basic skills teacher Dawn Goeke.

Latino parents learned how to promote reading within their families with the help of bilingual teachers.

This past fall, Greenwood, Kisthardt, Klockner, Kuser, Lalor, McGalliard, and Wilson elementary schools took part in the Latino Family Literacy Project, a national campaign that was created to provide a literacy program tailored to meet the needs of parents and children in growing Latino communities.

The goals of project participants are to establish a family reading routine, improve English language skills, improve Spanish literacy skills and strengthen parent and child interaction.

Parents met with a school-based bilingual teacher to discuss parenting concerns, education, family goals and traditions. Wilson’s bilingual facilitator, kindergarten teacher Florencia Norton, said the meeting provided a necessary outlet for Latino parents.

“It is so important for Hispanic parents, who came to this country for better opportunities for their children, to not only see that they are not alone, but also to gain as many resources and ideas as they can to help their students,” Norton said in a statement.

Each meeting centered on one bilingual children’s book, including A New Sun, Just Like My Sister, Family Stories, The Shark That Taught Me English and Teo and the Brick. The program lasted 10 weeks from October through January.

Parents made a family tree, wrote a letter to a family member and wrote a creative description of their children. Meeting activities were meant to help participants strengthen understanding of their role in helping children learn at home and empower them participate in their children’s education.

Additionally, facilitators helped develop parents’ home-school connection by discussing events, how to properly fill out forms, school procedures and parent-teacher communication.

Throughout the program, parents created family albums using photos taken with disposable cameras distributed at an early meeting. Parents made an album with construction paper, binders, stickers, templates, stamps, markers and other materials.

At the last session, parents and facilitators celebrated with a pot luck dinner. Each family shared a food reflective of their culture and presented their albums to the group.

The Latino Family Literacy Project is part of U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I, which sanctions funding schools with a high percentage of low income students.

More information is online at latinoliteracy.com.