FCG Read-Aloud Caravan, powered by Carrefour (October 2016 – June 2017)

Language development is affected by everything that happens to a child – including whether the child is read to or expected to ask and answer questions and engage in dialogue.” O’Day & Smith

OvidiuRo will bring the Poftă de Carte children’s literature and healthy food choices project to over 10,000 children and their parents this school year. The main objectives are to:

  • Demonstrate good read-aloud techniques to teachers & parents.
  • Investigate the reach of the program in the community.
  • Involve local leaders in the implementation process.
  • Identify children who are not enrolled by going door-to-door with the local social workers inviting children and parents to come to the kindergarten for a “Read Aloud” session.
  • Inform parents of the importance of kindergarten and help the school staff register children.
  • Review the project status with the mayor, school director and other members of the local implementation team.
  • Report to county authorities on OvR’s findings and discuss options for addressing any problems that come to light.

The reading caravan really demonstrated how hungry children in poor communities are for picture books! Most of these kids had never seen a picture book before and they were fascinated – and loved being read to. Even the older kids loved it,” declared Leslie Hawke, OvidiuRo’s cofounder.
“Picture books are not that common in most rural kindergartens so one of our goals is to model good read-aloud techniques to both teachers and parents – and to leave them with some high-quality picture books to use in their classes”.

The Read Aloud project design is two-fold: 

1. To raise awareness of the importance of reading to children, and

2. To educate parents and children on the elements of a healthy diet.

The Read-Aloud Nutrition Caravan is a natural continuation of the Summer FCG Caravan which visited 99 rural communities in 15 counties and distributed 6000 books to children and teachers.

How it works: Preschool age children, whether enrolled or not, are invited, along with their parents, to attend a read aloud session at the local kindergarten. Afterward they get a book of their own (“Să mâncăm multe culori”) to take home, which the teacher writes their name in. This year’s theme is about nutrition and healthy foods and uses a book, originally published in English, that OvidiuRo has adapted for Romanian children. 

Why it’s needed:

Romania has the second highest rate of socio-economical inequality in the EU (with a Gini index of 34%). According to the ELINET Literacy in Romania Country report, Romania ranks 23rd (out of the 24 EU states participating in the 2011 PIRLS tests), in literacy with over 35% of fourth graders struggling with reading (and poor readers in primary school are at the highest risk of school abandonment).

A third of Romania’s children live in severe deprivation and have less than 10 books at home, the highest percentage in the EU 24, which means a lot of children never even see a book until they enter school. This results in the biggest literacy-score-gap in the EU between the poorest children and those in the top quartile. Coupled with one of the lowest adult literacy rates in Europe, this means that poor children’s chances to overcome the literacy gap lie in the hands of policies and projects that actively recruit and support the most marginalized children.

Carrefour also funded the FCG Summer Caravan, through which 6000 books were distributed to preschoolers and over 3,000 parents were taught about the importance of early education and reading aloud to their children.