Reading to preschoolers: Cutest project ever?

perhaps my cutest peace corps moment

perhaps my cutest peace corps moment

Typically one has more project ideas than money to implement them. It so happened however that about one year into my Peace Corps service there was a grant opportunity whose size, around $200 made it so that I did find myself with potential money but without an idea. Although my Albanian “host” organization hadn’t shown interest in working with me, I figured why not ask my unofficial counterpart if she had any ideas. Lucky for me, she had a great one.

Albanian towns, like American ones, have day care/preschools for kids whose parents work. Typically supported by government funds as well as private funding from parents, they serve those few families in Albania whose mothers as well as fathers work. My project counterpart had a child in the preschool and wanted to spend the money there. Having just seen some documents about the importance of reading to children at all ages, we finally had an idea to go along with the money.

The project was straightforward and the director of the preschool was onboard as well. With the $200 we bought books and toys for the preschool. We gave a short training to the caregivers of the school to explain the importance of reading to children and demonstrated how reading sessions should be incorporated into the daily routine of the children. As a result, about 100 two and three year olds are now read to everyday at preschool.

My favorite part of the project came when my counterpart on the project and I went to demonstrate how to read to kids. To be honest, I had worked with kids before but they were around 8 and 9. Although I had read the science behind the importance of reading to very young children, I had never done it myself. When I finally sat down in front of a group of kids to read a book to them in my broken Albanian, I was pleasantly surprised to see how they were absolutely captivated by the images and the words. They were so happy to answer simple questions. Their captivated faces had made the whole project worthwhile.

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