4 Free Summer Early Literacy Programs for Preschoolers 

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ISU Extension and Outreach Offering 4 Free Summer Early Literacy Programs for Preschoolers

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach in Polk County will offer four free early literacy programs this summer for preschoolers and their parents or caregivers. There will be two sessions, one in Spanish and one in English, of the online early literacy program Our Bookshelf beginning July 7 and two in-person sessions of Raising School Ready Readers beginning July 11 at the Runnells Community Library and July 25 at the Des Moines East Side Library. All programs require pre-registration, and families will also receive free books to go along with their learning!

“These interactive early literacy programs help give upcoming preschoolers a head start if they begin school in the fall,” Michelle Schott, family wellbeing educator for ISU Extension in Polk County said. “Our Bookshelf and Raising School Ready Readers provide caregivers or parents fun and practical tools, techniques, and resources to incorporate in their day-to-day interactions and activities. Not to mention, it reminds participants that reading with kids is a great indoor activity to do in heat of the summer!”

Our Bookshelf

The upcoming four-week series of Our Bookshelf will be offered in both Spanish and English beginning Thursday, July 7. This weekly virtual program is intended for parents/caregivers with children ages three to six and focuses on dialogic reading, a research-based process for enhancing pre-reading development and reading skills. During the 30-minute virtual sessions, participants will learn how to: 

  • Plan a routine for daily reading
  • Learn techniques for reading aloud
  • Have conversations about language and books
  • Extend the language learning through play

Our Bookshelf participants will receive a free reading guide each week and a free book. Parents and caregivers interested in Our Bookshelf must register online by June 28 for the Spanish or English program. 

“In follow-up surveys from the April 2022 sessions of Our Bookshelf, the majority of parents and caregivers reported they changed their behaviors or reading strategies as a result of taking the class,” Schott said. “It’s fulfilling to know that these programs are serving their purpose and having a positive impact on participants.”

Raising School Ready Readers

This 90-minute, five-week in-person series is for parents and/or caregivers with children ages three to six. The first session will begin Monday, July 11, at 9:30 a.m. at the Runnells Community Library, 6575 SE 116th St. in Runnells, and the second session begins Monday, July 25, at 3:30 p.m. at the East Side Library, 2559 Hubbell Ave. in Des Moines. 

Both sessions will focus on developing the six core literacy areas that support school readiness including:

  • Concepts of print
  • Phonological awareness
  • Letter-sound knowledge
  • Oral language
  • Comprehension
  • Writing

Raising School Ready Readers provides participants simple ideas to turn everyday experiences – like fixing meals, giving baths, or riding in the car – into learning opportunities,” Schott said. 

Registration closes on July 5 for the Runnells session and July 18 for the East Side Library session.
For more information about early literacy, these programs, or another family programming, visit ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County at www.extension.iastate.edu/polk or call at (515) 957-5760.


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