*Note: This visit with Traveling Stories was back in January 2020, before health precautions were necessary. Traveling Stories currently has opportunities to participate virtually! See their website for more details at www.travelingstories.org.
The Traveling Stories’ StoryTent at the City Heights Farmers Market is a busy place on Saturday mornings. Children, parents, and volunteers fill the welcoming StoryTent that is full of a variety of books to choose from. Children who live nearby come to this StoryTent with their family. They visit the farmers market or have parents who are vendors at the market.
Kimberly, the StoryTent coordinator, says, “I love it, it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy the organization.”
Click here to see a quick video of the StoryTent in action!
Children are invited to take the initiative at the StoryTent. Kids pick out the books that interest them the most. They can read books on their own or choose who they want to read with. Steven, one of the story tent volunteers, has decided to invest some of his retirement time to Traveling Stories. He had been looking for a nonprofit organization to help in the San Diego area. He chose Traveling Stories because it is a great way to have a direct, positive impact in the community.
Dorothy, another volunteer, recognizes a child from a previous day. She exclaims, “You’re back! How are you?” She is excited that the kids can come to the StoryTent and have a space to read.
“I really enjoy that I can help kids grow their confidence,” shares Hezhi Naseem, Director of Programs for Traveling Stories.
What do you want people to know about your program?
Founded in 2010, Traveling Stories wanted to provide a program for at-risk kids that would not only help them learn to read, but also help them fall in love with reading. In 2011, Traveling Stories created the StoryTent: a mobile literacy program that would provide one-on-one reading support and motivational incentives to kids. For every book read, kids earn a Book Buck, which can be redeemed for prizes. This keeps the kids excited and motivated to learn, as well as teaches them money management skills.
Traveling Stories serves kids between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. From birth until 3rd grade, kids are learning to read, but from 4th grade on, kids are reading to learn. Kids in low-income households who can’t read proficiently by 4th grade are 15 times more likely to drop out of school. Sadly, in the U.S., 82% of disadvantaged kids can’t read at grade level. Traveling Stories currently serves over 3,000 local kids a year through their weekly programs in El Cajon and City Heights
How can people get involved and support the program?
Traveling stories accepts donations of prizes for the StoryTents (participation is now available virtually). Donations of new Spanish, Arabic books, Vietnamese, and dual language books are welcomed. Once StoryTents are able to open again in public spaces, volunteers are encouraged to participate at the different StoryTent locations throughout San Diego.
Contacts and Links:
2801 Camino Del Rio South San Diego, CA 92108 Suite # 302
Literacy Coordinator: Hezhi Naseem