Appleton Ready to Read: Outreach program brings early literacy to Hmong and Hispanic families

Appleton Ready to Read banner

Appleton Ready to Read (ARTR) is an outreach program for Hmong and Hispanic families with children ages birth to five. The program is based on the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, which provides strategies that caregivers can use to develop children’s early literacy skills.

ARTR was created as a result of the Leading Indicator for Excellence (LIFE) study conducted by  United Way of Fox Cities. In 2011, the LIFE study found that third grade reading scores had declined every year since 2006. Among those with declining reading scores, 36% were Asian (predominately Hmong) and 38% were English language learners (ELL) who were predominately Hispanic. Since library staff and community leaders knew literacy skills develop earlier than third grade, they decided to target Hmong and Hispanic families with children age birth to 5.  

A Hmong family outreach specialist, Pa Ja Yang, and a Hispanic family outreach specialist, Norma Oliveras, were hired to work closely with local families. Their positions were originally funded through a grant from United Way of Fox Cities but they are now funded through the City of Appleton. Pa Ja and Norma educate families on the importance of building early literacy skills through five practices: reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing. ARTR’s goal is to better prepare Hmong and Hispanic children for kindergarten and school success. There are three components to the program

1. Home Visit:

Specialists meet with families in their homes to provide free books and educational information on reading, writing, and children’s brain development.

2. Library Visit:

Specialists meet with families at the library to discuss library services, programs, and resources. Families receive a tour of the children’s section, music CDs and information on the benefits of singing and talking with their children.

3. Participation in Play & Learn:

Families attend a children’s program called Play & Learn. Specialists incorporate early literacy skills and the five practices to discuss the importance of dramatic and imaginary play, as well as narrative skills.  

Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Pa Ja Yang, Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist
Norma Oliveras, Hispanic Outreach Specialist










The success of ARTR would not be possible without community partnerships, in-kind contributions from local businesses and continuous support from the city. Community partnerships include the Appleton Area School District, Outagamie Birth to Five Intervention, UW-Oshkosh Head Start, Fox Valley Literacy Council and a variety of other organizations. Contributions from Bouwer Family Foundation and Bob’s Discount Furniture have provided new literature, music CDs and coloring books for families. Since 2014, Pa Ja and Norma have served more than 230 Hmong and Hispanic families.

Play & Learn: Hispanic Edition is offered on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. at the Appleton Public Library and Play & Learn: Hmong Edition from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Visit the Appleton Public Library’s classes and events calendar for upcoming classes and updated information.

Looking for Hmong family resources near you? Check out some of these other websites:


La Crosse:  


Hmong National Development, Inc.:

Appleton public library ready to readAppleton Ready to Read programAppleton Public library ready to read program Appleton Ready to read