Grant will aid area libraries Motheread/Fatheread program

By Rozella Hardin

   Local public libraries, schools and literacy programs will have new tools to work with as a result of a significant grant from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
   The grant of $18,000 in federal funds under the Library Services and Technology Act will enable area librarians, teachers, and literacy workers to become certified trainers in the Motheread/Fatheread program.
   Motheread/Fatheread is a curriculum based family reading and literacy program which uses quality children's literature and the power of sharing these stories within the family setting to help parents read effectively with their children. The program teaches adults how to use reading aloud to build literacy and critical-thinking skills in children. The storysharing curriculum is based on 108 titles and focuses primarily on the needs of children from birth through 11 years of age.
   "It's a program that teaches parents how to be great readers with their children," said Joyce White, director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library. "As I understand, it focuses on skills of both children and adults through reading classes," she said.
   There are classes for adults to learn how to use the Motheread books for communication, problem-solving and to help instill a love of reading in their children. Story-sharing activities bring children and parents together to discuss and enjoy the same book.
   The grant for the Motheread/Fatheread Program was written by Jane Garrett, director of the Unicoi County Library. The grant was written with a truly regional scope. Public libraries in the six countries served by the Watauga Regional Library System will have an opportunity to send staff, volunteers and community representatives to an intensive four-day training session in mid-November. Training will be conducted at the Johnson City Public Library, which will receive and administer the grant funds.
   White said two people will be sent from the Elizabethton Library to take the training. "Right now, we are just getting our ducks in a row in preparation for both the training and the administration of the program," she said.
   The four-day institute, titled "Using Story as a Way to Teach" helps participants learn how to integrate Motheread's approach and materials into their existing program. The institute offers librarians, educators, and social service professionals the philosophy, structure, materials, and curriculum needed to develop parent and child literacy programs in a variety of communities.
   Garrett said that in past years, the only training for Motheread facilitators was held in Nashville, which made it difficult for small libraries and agencies to afford to send many people to the training.
   "To have this in Northeast Tennessee is really spectacular," said Garrett.
   Training costs about $600 per person and Garrett said the grant will provide free Motheread facilitator training for about 20 people. After attending the institute and earning their certification, the new Motheread/Fatheread instructors will begin Motheread programs in their own communities.
   The grant also provides $300 for each partnering agency to purchase Motheread start-up books. At the end of the program, each participant receives a book of his or her own. Motheread/Fatheread Tennessee, a major focus of Humanities Tennessee, provided financial support for this training and for start-up collections of books to be used with the program.
   Longtime children's classics such as "Where the Wild Things Are" and "The Runaway Bunny" as well as newer multicultural titles such a "The Invisible Hunters (Los Cazadores Invisibles)" and "Nine-In-One, Grr! Grr!" are part of the curriculum.
   The Motheread/Fatheread approach was first developed in 1987 by literacy specialist Nancye Gaj, who continues to operate Motheread, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina.
   "Hopefully, after we take the training, we will be more educated about it, and share more about it with the public. After the training, we will know what we can do and decide how we can best incorporate it into our services locally," White said.