The Jardin de Los Niños Literacy Program operates from the belief that cultivating a love for books and reading is an essential part of a young child’s development. Not only is reading a major cornerstone of literacy but it also aids in nurturing communication skills, confidence, imagination, vocabulary, etc.
Our literacy program is dedicated to the development of early literacy in children from infancy to school age. Through the use of a language-rich curriculum, family and community involvement, and early literacy research, we aim to empower children experiencing homelessness and near-homelessness by helping to prepare them for school and to achieve academic success.
One of the best ways to promote this type of growth is by reading aloud with children, from their infant days through their young school-age years. Our program strives to build a strong foundation for literacy in our children and provides their families with materials and resources relevant to their child’s age group that will support them in jumpstarting the process. These materials include books to read, tips for reading with one’s child, information on recent studies regarding the importance of reading to children, and fun ways to get started.
One of our main ways of promoting reading among our kiddos is through our “reading challenges.” During these “challenges” each child receives reading punch-cards. Each time that they read with a family member that can fill out a box on their punch-card. When they fill in all the boxes, they can turn in the cards to the Literacy Program Coordinator, who will award certificates and prizes for each child’s literary achievements. We encourage our families to read aloud with their children at least 5 times each week.
Our primary goal is to make reading time a FUN TIME! Creating this positive association with reading at an early stage in a child’s life will have constructive reverberations throughout their lives!
The Jackson Whelpley Memorial Library
On August 20, 2014, Jackson Whelpley was struck by a bolt of lightning. Whelpley had just registered at his new University in Missouri and was looking forward to his career as a collegian. The lightning bolt was a freak and random act of nature. By all accounts, Jackson did not fit the norm. That is what his friends say was the best thing about him.
“Jackson was just so random,” recounts Blair Hartley of her “bestie” since grade school. “He was always texting with random thoughts and ideas,” she recalls. But he was deep, and he was funny, he loved to read, and he was loved by many.
By unanimous vote of the Board of Directors of Jardin de Los Niños, the center named its Giving Library for the late Jackson Whelpley. A short ceremony, followed by a ribbon cutting and reception took place on Thursday, November 13, as part of the Noche de Luminarias celebration planned for the holiday season. “This is a great way to honor my late son,” says Jackson’s father, Keith. “We are very proud of this endeavor.”
In response to Jardin’s plan to rededicate its library local elementary schools, the Communication Studies Graduate Student Association at NMSU, and multiple other community members collected and donated over 2,500 books! Jardin’s children and their families are regularly encouraged to visit the library at their leisure and check out books. Studies have shown that children experiencing underprivileged and/or unstable living situations have very few books and that presenting them with the chance to choose their very own book is extremely valuable and influential. As such, the fact that each can select their own books to keep from the Jackson Whelpley Memorial Library is huge! In 2019, our Literacy Program continues to grow, with partnerships that include donations from Peace Luthern Church, New Mexico Battle of the Books, and many other wonderful community organizations and individuals.