Photos courtesy SISD

Latino Family Literacy Program families honored for commitment to improving reading skills

The Socorro Independent School District recently honored families who participated in the Latino Family Literacy Program this year during their eighth annual end-of-the-year celebration.

The drive-through celebration parade had a Cinco De Mayo theme and students and parents arrived in colorful ensembles. They were given books in both English and Spanish and goodie bags filled with Mexican treats and candies.

They paused briefly to take a photo against a Cinco De Mayo inspired backdrop and enjoyed the music provided by the Americas High School Mariachi ensemble.

More than 100 parents in 14 schools participated in the Latino Family Literacy Program during the 2020-21 school year. The program helps SISD families of English Language Learners bond and build routines at home that improve literacy and vocabulary.

Through the literacy program, families learn about Latino social and cultural customs and embrace English and Spanish literacy. Parents say reading in two languages has increased their children’s proficiency in speech and reading.

The program also has become a great way for families to spend quality time together.

“The importance of this program is that the parents are involved, and the students and their parents’ bond strengthen as they spend time reading together,” said Terry Saldana, SISD bilingual ESL facilitator.

Claudia Yanez, a parent and teacher from Mission Ridge Elementary, said she credits the teachers for making the program fun and engaging for students this year despite the hurdle of conducting the readings virtually because of the pandemic.

“The Latino Family Literacy Program offers a wonderful opportunity for families to listen to stories in both English and Spanish,” Yanez said. “I think that it’s very important to instill the love for reading at an early age and more so in both languages.”

Yanez said her children enjoyed relating to the stories and the characters that were introduced to them the most, which made them want to connect and participate. She noticed her children are more articulate now and can explain how they relate to what was going on in the stories.

Andrea Diaz, a sixth-grade student from Salvador H. Sanchez Middle School, said the program better prepared her for the future and liked that it is offered in both languages.

“I thought it was a cool experience,” Diaz said. “I liked reading the stories and seeing the characters progress.”

Robert R. Rojas Elementary School parent Edaena Rendon said she sought out a program that would connect her family with others within the district and was able to find a sense of community in the Latino Family Literacy Program.

She said her favorite part of the experience was when families shared about their different cultures and life stories.

“It’s important to learn about the cultures in both English and Spanish because that’s what you see here in El Paso,” Rendon said.