Foreground: Jasmine, age 8 and her dad, Carlos, create a Rudolph puppet.

Madison-Oneida BOCES Literacy Activity

Laughter and singing could be heard from the Jervis Library auditorium in Rome on December 11 as children and adults gathered for a “When in Rome R.E.A.D. Center Learning Experience.

Children and parents interacted together to make puppets by tracing their children’s hands, sing the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer song and make musical instruments out of boxes, string and other household items. Approximately 12 families participated, with a total of 40 people in attendance. “This is the best place I’ve ever been,” said 8-year old Paul Medina who made Rudolph hand puppets with him mom, Brenda Diaz. Another parent, Carlos Perez, said his daughters, Jasmine and Samantha are doing better in school, especially in reading. They attend Gansevoort Elementary School in Rome.

Early Childhood Coordinator, Larry Heldman said that singing songs as a family encourages reading and helps to develop reading skills such as rhyming, pacing, intonation, decoding and comprehension. Family Literacy Educators also at the event were: Katie Parker, Jason Stefanski and Sue Miller.

The program is made possible through a Safe Schools/Healthy Students three-year grant that was awarded to the Rome City School District. It is designed for families of the Rome City School District who have children under age 8, with a focus on birth – 5 years old. The literacy program is run by the Madison-Oneida BOCES. When in Rome R.E.A.D., an innovative literacy program for families in Rome, integrates early childhood and parent education into one program. The purpose of the program is to assist families in creating a literacy rich environment for their children, by encouraging families to interact, play and read to their children.

For more information on the Family Literacy Program contact Larry Heldman, Early Childhood Coordinator at 334-1226 or email Liz Miller at

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