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Community Bedtime Stories

Hartford Public Library

Innovation Summary

A radio program to promote and engage Latino families in library and literacy services through innovative media outreach using community readers.

Problem Statement

Low literacy rates in the Latino community are creating intergenerational social problems in the community at large (crime, teen pregnancy, addictions, and unemployment). The Latino community represents 43.4% of Hartford's total population of which 38% speak Spanish at home).


During the last week in March 2012, the Library’s Park Branch produced a reading program on the radio featuring members of the community who read a story. The community was invited to tune in for 5 days a week at the same time each day. The goals of the program were to promote reading with children and their families with an emphasis on bilingual literacy, to increase awareness of the many resources in the city that assist the public in developing literacy skills, and to celebrate culture and heritage through stories promoting bilingual literacy in a multicultural society. The community-based reading program was created to celebrate children, reading and bilingual literacy. In effort to encourage families to come together around books, we invited the entire community to tune in every night for a week, listen to the story read by their neighbors in Spanish and English and to have conversations about the stories at home. Creating this literacy outreach program required: • Collaboration with a local radio station • Recruitment of families and community guests to pre-record a story read in English and Spanish to be played every night for a week in 15 minute segments • Registering of families to tune in every night at the same time, listen to the story, have a conversation about the story and bring in a drawing or written summary of the story to their local branch for prize


The outcomes are seen in the number of registered families before the program and the drawings and summaries received from the listening audience to redeem prizes throughout the week during which the program airs. As a result, we registered 120 new cardholders and received dozens of inquiries about library and literacy services. There are broad opportunities for collaboration with this program.