The Evanston Community Foundation has funded a partnership this summer between the Evanston Public Library and the Youth Job Center to help provide basic literacy skills to Evanston 4-and-5-year-olds to prepare them for kindergarten.

The program, called ABC Boosters, has been in operation at the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center and at the Robert Crown Community Center.

Two kindergarten teachers from Willard Elementary School, Lara Galicia and Maria Torres, wrote the lesson plans and trained two groups of six teenagers each from the Youth Job Center, who are paid to provide the service.

Each morning begins with the teens teaching the kids their ABCs and how to write their names, while the final hour is spent reading aloud to the youngsters from books supplied by the library.

“Some of these kids have never been read to,” said Galicia, who attended Willard School as a child and now teaches there. “Being read to is a big help in developing early literacy skills,” she added.

Each child is evaluated at the beginning and the end of the summer program to determine, among other things, how many letters of the alphabet they have learned to recognize.

“I’ve noticed a huge improvement in their skills,’ Galicia said.

Top: Reading aloud to youngsters at Fleetwood Jourdain. Photo by Genie Lemieux of Evanston Photographic Studios.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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