SMEA assists Henry Ford Health System with child literacy program

March 26, 2012

School of Education logoJessica Stafiej knows the importance of being read to at a young age. For her, books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Giving Tree provided time with family members, while she developed critical literacy skills.

Now, she and other members of University of Michigan’s Student Michigan Education Association (SMEA) are working to help others learn the value of reading to young children.

SMEA is assisting the Henry Ford Health System with the implementation of a reading program at Fairlane Clinic designed to promote early literacy for all.

The clinic is participating in Reach Out and Read, a program that gives new books to children and advises parents on the importance of reading aloud. Because the program is based within pediatric exam rooms, it builds on the relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills.

SMEA will use funds obtained through a grant from the Michigan Education to provide the clinic with bookshelves, beanbag chairs and wall murals. Members of the chapter also have collected more than 120 new books since December to donate to the program.

“The renovation will supply children with the necessary means to support literacy development and help create an atmosphere focused on reading,” said Stafiej, president of UM-Dearborn’s SMEA chapter.

According to the Reach Out and Read website, research shows that children who have participated in this program are better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies, stronger language skills and a six-month developmental edge over their peers as they enter kindergarten.

“Through their efforts the members of the SMEA are helping young children and their families establish a strong basis for lifelong learning and academic success,” said Ed Silver, dean of the School of Education.

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