Family engagement is at the core of Raising A Reader Massachusetts’ (RAR-MA) model. Our mission is to close the literacy opportunity gap among children from birth to age six in high-need communities. RAR-MA reduces the literacy gap by helping families develop, practice, and maintain shared reading habits. In response to the current pandemic, RAR-MA has pivoted to implement creative strategies to continue to meet families’ literacy needs as the typical methods to access books are limited. In addition, staff members have connected much more intentionally with program partners in the field to learn how to best collaborate to support families. Most recently, RAR-MA attended The Pauline A. Shaw School’s (Dorchester, MA) Monthly Learning Kit distribution event to share dialogic reading strategies and gift families with tablets preloaded with an early literacy and family engagement program through The Family Learning Company. This generous gift was supported by a grant awarded to RAR-MA through The Vertex Foundation social innovation located in Boston.
As a result of this collaboration with the Vertex Foundation, RAR-MA was able to distribute 60 tablets to families. This opportunity further expands our mission as The Family Learning Company software program both increases access to books and promotes family engagement. Preloaded onto the tablets are 32 levels, including 290 e-books and 5,500 activities for children and adults. This is especially critical and supportive for families that do not have books in their home. According to Morgan Keohane, Librarian at The Pauline A. Shaw School and a dedicated RAR-MA Program Partner, “Giving out these tablets, especially to our youngest learners will be transformational for how they are able to engage in learning at home. I know these tablets will make online learning a more enjoyable experience.”