Staff from the Early Learning Coalition, a nonprofit group dedicated to early care and education for children in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, recently gave 400 books to youngsters during a “Read and Ride” event aboard Miami-Dade County’s Metrorail.
The “Read and Ride” on June 8 was to spread awareness of summer literacy, according coalition volunteers.
“We want to bring awareness for kids ages 0 to 5 of the potential loss in reading skills over the summer break,” said Adrian Alfonso, a certified public accountant at Kaufman Rossin who volunteers on the coalition’s board of directors. “It’s important to keep kids reading and learning throughout the break so they don’t fall behind when school starts up again.”
The youngsters and their parents or guardians rode on Metrorail from the Dadeland South station to the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami. The kids read children’s books such as Don Freeman’s “Corduroy” while riding in the train between the stations.
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Over the summer break, children can lose two months on average of reading skills, according to the coalition. The “Read and Ride” event, hosted by the Miami-Dade Public Library System and the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation, sought to remind parents to read to their children during the summer break to help combat the summer slide and the tendency for students to lose some of the academic gains made during the school year.
As part of the event, the library system gave riders at the Government Center station an opportunity to sign up for a library card. The library card would provide those riders who signed up access to read books throughout the summer, the coalition said.
“We want to equip parents with the tools they need to create at-home libraries and ensure that no children fall behind this summer,” said Evelio Torres, the coalition’s Miami-Dade/Monroe County president and CEO. “Parents are a child’s first teacher, and it is important that they stimulate development through continued education at home.”
The coalition asked parents who attended the “Read and Ride” event to take the “Unplug and Connect” pledge. If parents agreed, then they promised the coalition they would put down their mobile devices while out and spend time talking or reading to their children.
“Whenever I go out, I see everyone on their phones and not speaking with their kids,” Alfonso said. “This pledge will hopefully encourage those parents to interact more with their kids and become more involved in their development.”
To learn more about Children from the Early Learning Coalition, visit elcmdm.org.