Thursday, August 6, 2015

Appleton Ready to Read (Part 2 of 2)

Guest post by Tanya Misselt, originally written in July 2013 as a resource for the Growing Wisconsin Readers website.

This post is a continuation from Appleton Ready to Read (Part 1 of 2)

Hmong families visit the Appleton Public Library
Hmong families visit the Appleton Public Library
(author's image)
Community Partners
Hmong families with children from birth to age five are referred to Yee Vue by the Appleton Area School District (AASD), Outagamie County Birth – 3 Early Childhood Early Intervention Program and the Fox Cities Literacy Council.   Yee is asked to help with AASD  3-5 year-old developmental screening of children whose primary language at home is Hmong.  Yee also refers families to take advantage of this screening opportunity.  Through this referral network and community trust, Yee has been able to help children get placed in Title 1 programs, Head Start and Even Start.

What we have learned?
The Hmong language has only been a written language since the 1950s.  Many Hmong people do not read Hmong.  Although providing signage and flyers in Hmong is a nice gesture, it is often not a reliable tool for communication.  The multi-generational experience of reading books to our children while they sit on our lap is not the multi-generational experience of the Hmong people.   Also, I am told that there is no history of Hmong nursery rhymes and little if any history of children’s music in the Hmong language.   We have met with Hmong parents who are illiterate.  Some young Hmong parents, who attended high school in our area, are not confident readers.  Many of the families that we have worked with have few to no children’s books in their home.   Board books, wordless picture books, picture books with companion CDs and beginner readers with companion CDs in our collections have been very helpful for these parents.
Early literacy activities led by Yee Vue, APL's  Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Early literacy activities led by Yee Vue, APL's
Hmong Family Outreach Specialist (author's image)

Some young Hmong parents do not speak English or lack confidence in speaking English.   Some Hmong children who speak both Hmong and English at home, lack the depth of one language that helps them be prepared for kindergarten.  Several experts tell me that it is more important that children entering kindergarten have depth of language in their primary language than lack depth of language in two languages.

What’s next?
While we are completing our LSTA grant year, we are also looking for funding to sustain this program and build a Hispanic Outreach Program with a half-time Hispanic Family Outreach Specialist.  We also seek to add a strong university backed research component to our work.  These are big ideas, but with the strong support of our Library Director, Library Board, Friends of the Appleton Public Library and many others, I believe that we can make a difference in our community.

Written by:
Tanya Misselt, 
Children’s Services Supervisor

Note--For more information about working with the Hmong community, or general library outreach to cultural groups, view the recording of Yee Vue's webinar "Library Services for the Hmong Community" hosted by UW Madison's School of Library and Information Studies

Institute of Museum and Library Services logo
The Appleton Ready to Read project was made possible by a grant from
the Institute of Museum and Library Services.