Changing Lives

The magic happens at home.

It’s not just a priority; it’s personal.


Every family has a story

Every family we serve has a story, and below are just a few stories that highlight the impact of our work in the communities we serve. We work closely with families – to gather stories, to share experiences, to form the relationships we know can lead to brighter futures.

Empowering Young Readers

Sharon is a teacher at a transitional kindergarten in San Francisco. She interviewed her students to find out what the StoryCycles™ book bag program means to them. Her students were eager to tell her how they read books with their families at home.

“My mom reads one book before bed!”
“My dad reads me all the books when I get up in the morning.”
“I like to read to my baby sister!”

Sharon wrote down the student’s comments on the board, then asked, “What is one word that you would use to describe StoryCycles?”

The children raised their hands.

“Super cool!”

Sharon acknowledged the children and wrote each of their words on the board. Then Jason spoke up. “Superman!”  Sharon smiled and wrote that down too. Again, Jason was waving his hand. “Yes, Jason?” “Batman!” Confused, Sharon thought, “Maybe I’m losing them.” But her instincts as an educator prompted her to explore the child’s meaning. “Jason, why did you say Superman and Batman?”

Jason beamed. “Power! Reading gives me power!”

Building a Lasting Bond for Father and Son

Eddie, the father of five-year-old Michael from Oakland, had gone to prison shortly after his son was born and had just recently been released. He was excited to learn Michael participated in a program that brought books into their home each week, and saw a real opportunity to take advantage of the chance to rebuild his relationship with his young son.

“I read to my son every day now,” he remarked. “I cherish the 15 minutes we spend together every day reading and bonding over StoryCycles books. Reading those books made me finally feel like a father.”

Eddie is proud that even though Michael started the school year with no knowledge of English, he was reading fluently by the end of the year.

Overcoming Barriers, Building Excitement

Alisa, a deaf mother, sat in on a Tandem parent interactive reading workshop at her child’s school and had another parent write everything down so she could understand the content. Because she is deaf, she cannot speak to her three-year-old son and communicates by signing or writing things down.

After the workshop, Alisa approached the Tandem presenter and expressed her concern about not being able to read aloud to her child. The Tandem presenter reassured her that signing the story to her child offers all the benefits of book-sharing – her son would not only learn American Sign Language, but he would learn more vocabulary words, practice letter recognition, and grow confident in his ability to express himself.

Alisa’s face lit up when she realized that her current routines were, in fact, helping her son to learn and grow. No longer did she worry that her son was “missing out” from not hearing his mother read aloud to him.

Overhearing the conversation, another parent chimed in to ask if Tandem could provide ASL books, so all the children at the site could join in learning to sign.

Engaging Students through Interactive Reading

Three-year-old Sam usually arrives to school later than the other students. One morning, Sam arrived to school in tears and didn’t want to speak to anyone. During the day’s Read Aloud, she refused to participate in the songs and hand movements that accompanied the story. She didn’t want to sit, though another three-year-old classmate kept offering her a chair.

When the teacher turned the page to reveal a drawing of a little white dog, Sam leaned forward. Noticing Sam’s interest, the teacher asked, “What sound does the dog make?” Sam’s younger classmates didn’t respond.

Suddenly, Sam began enthusiastically barking. As the teacher encouraged her participation, Sam’s entire mood began to change. She accepted the seat her friend offered, and remained excited and engaged throughout storytime.

Once the story was over, she eagerly waited for the next activity to begin. “Interactive reading is a great way to get through to my students,” the teacher shared. “They feel so confident when they help me share a book with their classmates.”

Share your story

We want to hear from you! Contact Emily Thompson to share your Tandem story.


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