The Cortez Family

Raising A Reader


As a child, Yazmin wasn’t read to by her family and feels this is one of the reasons she never enjoyed reading. For her three-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, she and her husband, Horacio, had a different plan. In 2011, they enrolled Jocelyn in Southwest Human Development’s Raising A Reader, a program designed to educate parents about the importance of early literacy and teach them how to use books to strengthen their relationship with their children. Families participate in language and literacy activities, including storytelling, music and dance.


“One of Jocelyn’s favorite parts is the music,” said Yazmin Cortez, Jocelyn’s mom. “She loves to sing the songs and dance.”


With the help of Southwest Human Development’s Raising A Reader program, planned reading time is now part of a typical Cortez family day. With both parents working and Jocelyn in the care of a babysitter, it was challenging to find time to read together. Raising A Reader helped Yazmin and Horacio learn skills to help them truly engage Jocelyn through books and reading and they noticed that Jocelyn responded through better attention during reading activities. The program also helped Yazmin learn how to be more patient with her daughter when she wasn’t paying attention during storytelling.


“I see a big value on getting her started with learning her colors, numbers and letters,” added Yazmin. “I’ve seen her vocabulary grow so much. Kids at her age don’t speak as clearly as she does.”

To date, the Cortez family has participated in three separate eight-week Raising A Reader sessions. Prior to joining Southwest Human Development’s Raising A Reader program, Jocelyn showed little interest in books, but thanks to the program and the support of her parents, Jocelyn now reads books on her own. Through Raising A Reader, families take home a bag of books to read together at the end of each weekly workshop. Then, the bag of books is exchanged the following week, exposing children in the program to more than 40 books. At the end of the eight weeks, families are able to select four children’s books to start a home library. Now, some of Jocelyn’s most valued possessions are her books from the program.

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