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Osborn families unify under Latino reading improvement program
Osborn family reading pic
Osborn Two-Way Academy parent Mayra Gonzalez and her daughter Kenna Cortez, 6, look at a “Family Stories” project at Osborn. The Family Stories projects are part of the “Cuentos Familiares” program, which improves Latino family reading, provides family bonding experiences and improves Latino parent involvement on campus. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

For Lissette Ruesga, a parent at Osborn Two-Way Academy in Turlock, involvement in her children’s learning is paramount to success and a gateway toward teaching her family the importance of their history and culture.

On Wednesday Ruesga and her daughter, Leandra Bonilla, 7, a second grader, joined  20 other Latino families who completed a five-month, family bonding and reading-improvement project known as Cuentos Familiares (Family Stories).

Cuentos Familiares is part of the Latino Family Literacy Project and the program uses books and literacy tools in English and Spanish to encourage parents and their children to improve reading and writing skills, as well as bonding experiences.

“The goal of the courses is to teach them strategies for reading at home. The books and projects associated with them are about the immigrant experience and families make a book about their family’s culture and experiences,” explained Osborn School Reading Specialist Erica Maldonado-Higle.

Osborn teachers and administrators have noticed a significant improvement in students’ reading comprehension abilities since the project started earlier this year.

Parents in the program attend a weekly two-hour class and are essentially assigned “homework” to complete with their families. All family members, such as younger and older siblings can participate, not just Osborn students.

Maldonado-Higle reported that the vast majority of parents in the program attended every single class. At the end of the project the parents were awarded certificates and, more importantly, smarter children and a strong family bonding experience.

“This project was started out of Los Angeles because there was such a large gap between Latino and Caucasian graduation rates. A lot of Latino families didn’t have the strategies and communication abilities to incorporate into their children’s learning,” explained Maldonado-Higle said.

Because of the program parents of Osborn students have become much more involved in school activities.

“Osborn is really welcoming to parents. We are asked to be involved much more than at other schools and we have a close relationship with our teachers and other parents now. My daughter attended another kindergarten and when she came to Osborn she was a full year behind but now she is caught up because we’ve all worked together,” said Ruesga.

Osborn plans to continue Family Stories next year.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail, or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.