Meeting the Demand for Improving Latino Literacy

Patricia Montiel Overall
March 3, 2013

At a time when literacy is critically important to a healthy community and nation, the fastest growing population, Latinos, continue to fall behind.

According to national statistics, Latino youth are behind their non-Latino classmates in all subjects and continue to underachieve in reading and writing.

In Arizona, only 16 percent of Latino students are proficient readers.

“Tenemos que hacer algo para aydar a nuestros hijos” (we have to do something to help our children)," said a parent at an elementary school in Tucson. That’s why she is participating in an event which will focus on family literacy.

The 2013 Latino Literacy Roundtable coincides with timing of the Tucson Book Festival, and was established to provide an opportunity for authors, educators, librarians and community to meet, discuss, and share information about the development of literacy of Latinos in English and in Spanish. 

Literacy of Latinos should be a high priority in the community, which Latinos helped to build, and which continues to be a rich cultural center of bilingualism.

The focus of this year’s Latino Literacy Roundtable is family literacy. Parents, educators and librarians will discuss how parents, Latino children’s first teachers, can become involved in developing literacy.

Parents from Los Amigos Elementary School, Ocotillo Family Literacy Center and Santa Rosa Family Literacy Center will share their experiences as participants in family literacy programs. They are actively involved Spanish speaking parents who have much to share about the cultural differences they and their children face in coming to the U. S. from another country.

Also, Iliana Reyes, a UA College of Education professor, will share her insights and research, which focuses on bilingual, bicultural and biliteracy development. Reyes is well known in the community for her work with schools, Latino parents and children. Also, she serves as the director of the Early Childhood LiBRO (Literacy and Biliteracy Resource Office) project, a resource collection that provides undergraduate and graduate students and teachers with updated research materials and early literacy development bilingual books to be used in the classroom with preschool and elementary educators and children.

The full schedule is available online. Sponsors for the event include the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science, UA Libraries, UA Mexican American Studies, Pima County Public Library, REFORMA-­Tucson, and the City of South Tucson.

The 2013 Latino Literacy Roundtable will be held March 8 at the Sam Lena-­South Tucson Library, 1607 South Sixth Avenue, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Patricia Montiel Overall, an associate professor in the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science and chair and founder of the Latino Literacy Roundtable, can be reached at 520-621-3565 or



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