The Mississippi Humanities Council supports two family-based reading programs for literacy-challenged adult readers and their lower elementary school age children. It is common knowledge that Mississippi has an alarmingly high illiteracy rate (one of the highest in the nation), and a dearth of adequate funding available for remedying this problem. Considering the central role that the ability to read plays in any programming or even basic understanding of the humanities, the Council has developed reading programs that use the family unit to instill a love of reading, promote an interest in the public library, and most important, encourage families to read books and talk about ideas together.
What makes the MHC Family Reading Program unique is the emphasis on substantive content and exploration of ideas and concepts with parents and their children. These family literacy programs model good reading aloud skills and discussion techniques that stimulate interest and knowledge of the books’ content — helping foster a lifelong love of learning through reading. The programs present history, cultural values, and literature in enjoyable ways and relaxed settings. Participants experience animated story telling and open-ended questioning that lead to meaningful conversations, thus assisting families in moving from basic, functional reading to thoughtful literacy.
As the program has grown, the number of non-English speaking families in Mississippi, most notably the Spanish-speaking population, has increased. To address this situation, the Council introduced the Luciérnagas Family Reading Program, a dual-language, Spanish-English version of the Family Reading Bonds program.
For more information on the council’s Family Literacy Project please contact David Morgan, special projects coordinator, at the Mississippi Humanities Council, 601-432-6204.