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Community Engagement Programs

Early Literacy and Family Engagement Intern

Southwest Human Development


At Southwest Human Development we strive to give all children an optimal start in life with opportunities for a bright and positive future. Several decades of research clearly demonstrate that each more


About the Internship


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I See Opportunity Looking at Me!

Are you interested in early childhood education, parent engagement, and children’s literature? Do you like supporting families? Do you love children? If you answered yes, then this is the internship for you.

YOUR ROLE: In this internship, you will help families learn the importance of early language and literacy as it relates to the lives of their children. You will help facilitate parent-child engagement, music and movement, reading, and craft activities. You will have direct hands-on experience in working with children and their families. You will help provide community resources and make links between a caregiver's strengths and their child's development.

THE PROGRAM: Raising a Reader is a national evidenced-based early literacy program for young children ages birth to five and their families. The workshops take place once weekly for a duration of eight weeks, always on the same day. For example, a session might take place every Monday at 10:00AM for the duration of the series. Each workshop is approximately two hours long, which includes a 15 minute window before and after the session for set up, clean up, and questions from families. The program is held all throughout Maricopa County, at apartment homes, mobile-home parks, public housing facilities, shelters, libraries, elementary schools, health clinics, and childcare centers.

THE CURRICULUM: The curriculum focuses on key areas of early communication, language, and literacy development, including; print awareness, print motivation, vocabulary development, the importance of creating a reading routine, instilling a self-determined habit of reading, pre-writing, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, story telling and narrative skills.

SESSION SNAPSHOT: Parents will be given a brief introduction to the key concepts of each module, and then provided with a demonstration of a shared book reading and play activity which exemplifies these concepts. Families will have ample opportunity to read and play with their child, and to try out the ideas which have been presented. You and a lead language and literacy specialist will circulate around and work with individual families to support them while they are reading and playing with their child. The Raising a Reader sessions also include snacks, music, and a chance for parents to talk with each other. The program is presented in a facilitation style by one literacy specialist and one intern. To make sure all families have access to the resources our community providers, we offer a ‘Resource of the Week’ component. We make referrals and recommendations to other programs such as Head Start, Healthy Families, Birth-to-Five Helpline, public libraries, ESL classes, computer classes, immunization clinics, WIC locations, back-to-school fairs, community safety events, food banks, and home visiting programs.
Please look at the following videos for more detail on what a Raising a Reader session looks like:

Population Served:

The Raising a Reader program serves families and their children birth to five years of age residing in Maricopa County. The targeted population includes low-income, non-English speaking, low-socioeconomic families, as well as communities identified as book deserts. The majority of the trainings are delivered in Spanish (70%) or English (20%), but we have also delivered Raising A Reader to more than 300 refugee families. To accommodate the linguistic diversity of these families, Southwest Human Development has also delivered Raising A Reader in Nepali, Burmese and French with the assistance of interpreters. We work with the International Rescue Committee to identify translators for other languages, including Arabic, to allow us to continue to serve new and emerging refugee communities. Many of the families we serve are living are in crisis (homeslessness, addiction, poverty, domestic violence), and we work directly with shelters to deliver Raising a Reader workshops.

Community Need:

Arizona is facing a literacy crisis. Recent census data reveals there are about 439,319 children under age 5 in Arizona. 40% of them are unprepared to enter school due to a lack of early language and literacy skills. 64% of Arizona’s 3 and 4 year olds are not enrolled in preschool. Only 21% of Arizona’s children ages 0-5 are enrolled in a quality learning environment. According to AzMERIT data, only 44% of Arizona’s third graders were reading proficiently in 2018. More than 1 in 4 Arizona children under 6 live in poverty. The Raising a Reader program addresses these issues by providing children and families with safe, interactive environments to learn and grow, by helping to establish a love of reading, by giving children and families access to books, by helping families learn the tools necessary to prepare their children for Kindergarten, and by providing ways to form connections and deepen community ties. In addition, parents are refered to programs and community resources that can support different areas of need, such as information on free GED or ESL classes.

Community Impact:

Interns will make a difference in our community by building relationships with families, supporting parents with the tools to be their child’s first and most important teacher, providing resources to link community services, and by helping to create and nurture a child’s love for reading and sharing books.