(National Native News)
The Indian Health Service is working to provide tens of thousands of children’s books to Native families across the country. The federal agency gave a $200,000 grant to Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit that integrates reading into pediatric care. The group will use the money to buy more than 30,000 children’s books. They’ll be handed out to Indigenous families during well-child visits at dozens of Indian Health Service clinics. That includes 11 in New Mexico, one in Colorado, and one in Wyoming.
Marty Martinez is Reach Out and Read’s CEO. He says the books feature Indigenous characters and are written in half a dozen different Native languages. “To give families a book for a two-year-old or a three-year-old that’s related to their culture, that ties in a Native Illustrator or author or a great story – and celebrates that – is so meaningful.” And helpful to their development. The group says about one-third of young children – and half of those living in poverty – start kindergarten without the skills they need to do well in school.
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