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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe library literacy workshops enhance skills and tribal way of life

​​Amalia A.M. Reyes always knows when the literacy workshops for parents are working. Reyes, who supervises the Dr. Fernando Escalante Community Library and Resource Center, sees parents return with their young children on days other than when the classes are offered.

“One family in particular, they come regularly to the library,” Reyes said. “The mom and dad are both here with the daughter. She started out with our workshops, maybe in 2013.”

Reyes watches as the preschooler makes an effort to find a book and the mom reinforces her search by asking questions. “Are you sure that’s the book you want to read? Let’s count how many books you have.”

The First Things First Pascua Yaqui Tribe Region funds parenting education, which includes the 12 session literacy workshop program at the library. The activities are designed to increase the knowledge and skills of parents and families to promote positive parenting practices that result in enhanced child health and development.

In addition to the story time, Reyes and the literacy specialist always try to follow up the story time with an activity that relates to tribal heritage or the Pascua Yaqui way of life.

For example, after reading a story about making tortillas, they create tortillas out of felt, to place on a felt board.

“We’ll show them how to expand the tortilla going back and forth as they clap their hands,” Reyes said. “You have to stick to an evidence based curriculum, but at the same time, you have to make it an activity that parents can relate to, learn from and utilize things at home.”

Andrea Romero, who worked as a literacy specialist at the library, said she hears from parents who would use the workshop skills at home.

“I think it has a great impact on the parents who come and bring their child,” Romero said. “They get that one on one conversation and engagement with the child, along with us helping. A lot of times, parents don’t like to talk or ask questions. But here, it’s friendlier and inviting. If they do have a question, they feel safe asking it. No one is going to make them feel ashamed for not knowing.”

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