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Family Fun Day promotes literacy among youth
Posted Nov. 26, 2007

Live animals, storytelling and crafts offered several opportunities for children to become more excited about reading at the Family Fun Days “Animals in Literature” program on Saturday.

The monthly event where families in Pomona are encouraged to attend to promote reading at a young age was held at the Cal Poly Downtown Center. This month’s theme for the Family Fun Day was derived by the novel  “Bless me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya.

A part of the Big Read Grant, the inclusion of the novel in the Family Fun Day ties in with the city’s initiative to promote stronger reading habits citywide.

“One of the needs for kids is to increase their reading skills,” said Jonnie Owens, director of community outreach for the college of letters, arts and social sciences at Cal Poly Pomona.

The four-hour event provided several activities centered on animals. Children were able to get their faces painted, work on a craft project, and look through the display of books available to take home.

A treat for the entire family was live story telling by John St. Clair, a member of the Inland Valley Story Tellers. St. Clair entertained the audience with different folk tales dealing with animals. The solo performer worked without the aid of props or costumes, but he had enthusiasm and range in accents and vocal tones.

“We had so much fun. The storyteller was great,” Donna Dolgovin, Pomona resident, said.

Dylan, Dolgovin’s 4-year-old grandson, was more interested in reading his new book than finishing his craft.

“He can’t wait to read the book, so that’s nice,” Dolgovin said.

After visiting the other activities, the children were able to be introduced to many animals from The Animal Guys. Various exotic animals were placed on display from an owl to an alligator, to a fox.

Student volunteers from the city and from Cal Poly Pomona usually run the different activities. Each session has a specific theme. Past themes include Dia de los Muertos, wellness and sea life. In one of the past sessions, Cal Poly geography students entertained the children with many activities relating to geography.

“Kids were learning geography without even knowing it. It’s a great thing for the kids,” Owens said.

While some volunteers come to help from the city and other organizations, others volunteer as part of several service learning courses taken at Cal Poly.

“It’s important to get the community involved in literacy again,” Amor Gracino, a liberal studies major at Cal Poly Pomona said. “It helps to bring literature back in children’s lives. It’s a good way to get them excited about books again.”

The Family Fun Days are offered every fourth Saturday of the month.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity and good promotion of reading,” Kristen Conway-Gomez, Pomona resident, said.

Andres Rivera can be reached at