Anne Daniel sitting at Families Read display.

Center for Young Children (CYC)

CYC Families Read


Family Reads program administrator talking with child

About the Program

The CYC Families Read program, now in its twenty eighth semester, has evolved from a reading get-together opportunity among a small group of CYC Purple Room families during the summer of 2003 to its present form: a school-wide sharing of books and reading experiences. That the program has been sustained over this long time is in great part due to the efforts of Kathy Hedge, the parent “founder”, who nurtured the program from summer 2003-spring 2006, and all subsequent parent “coordinators”. During this time, over 250 quality picture books of various genres have been shared and enjoyed by participants. A little language of its own has emerged: you’ll hear children talking about “punch cards” and “pom poms” and “book reports”.

During spring 2004, nineteen (19) children at CYC finished reading all twelve books selected for that first semester’s school wide introduction to the program. We now average about 90% participation by families. Generous support by the CYC PTP, as well as continuous participation from returning families each year and their helpful gestures toward “new” families discovering the program for the first time, have assured the program’s success. It helps mightily that children enjoy the many distinct elements of program participation.

The CYC Families Read program was featured in a breakout session at the 2005 NAEYC conference. It was included in the winter 2009 issue of TERP magazine, as part of an article exploring “reading clubs” on campus, and generated many phone calls and emails of interest from Maryland alumni looking for great books to read to their children/grandchildren. A DC homeless shelter modeled its own family reading program after a CYC parent had visited and talked about our program. Clearly, what began so simply in the summer of 2003 has taken hold, has assumed a life of its own, and has become, as one father at CYC commented, “a signature program here at CYC.”  We appreciate that Target Corporation provided a generous grant to support this program for five years.

How CYC Families Read Works

Book Selection

Each semester a collection of picture books are selected by the CYC Assistant Director, a former children’s literature instructor here at the University, for families to read. These books represent all genres of picture books and may be classics or recent publications, may be written by favorite authors, or by new authors hoping to become future “legends” in the field. Varying styles of illustration and book formats are highlighted, acknowledging children’s ability to recognize story narrative through text AND illustrations. Interactive game-like and wordless books are often featured. Quality and appeal are the guiding principles of book selection, with the CYC community of children and families ever in mind as books are chosen.


Bunnies reading

Fall 2019 Families Read Book List

The Donkey Egg by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummell

Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

The Crayon Man by Natascha Biebow

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

Hello Autumn by Shelley Rotner

Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby

The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems

The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry


Program Steps

Every semester, each child is provided with a “punch card” to use as program books are read. These are kept at school in a basket provided for each classroom. The card is laminated for durability. Your child’s name is written on the front, and book titles and authors are listed on the back.


Dad reading to child

Multiple copies of each book are provided for checkout each semester in the Great Room area at CYC as follows:


  • Select a book.
  • You or your child should write his or her name (and date) on the check out card in the back pocket of each book. Note that your book and check out card will have a matching “copy number”. This is important to note when returning books after reading.
  • Place the card in the corresponding card sleeve on the bulletin board.
  • Take the book home and enjoy reading it together. Return the books within two days. This keeps books circulating and helps eliminate disappointments!
  • When you return the book, find the card with you child’s name on it (matching the “copy numbers” on the card and book), write the return date on the card, return the card to the back of the book, and reshelve. It is now ready for someone else to check out.
  • Once you have returned your book, you may check out another book if available. One book per family at a time, please!
  • Your child can select a pom-pom from the box on the white bookshelf, and place it in the corresponding jar…indicating that she/he has read that book. All readers will be doing the same…and the entire school will be able to gauge the community’s reading as the jars fill!
  • Please let Mrs. Daniel, the Assistant Director, know that your child has read the book by writing your child’s name and the book(s) read on the small clipboard hanging on the right hand side of her office door.
  • Mrs. Daniel will find a time to meet with your child as soon as is possible to talk about the book(s) and punch their card. She will also have your child put the pom poms in the jar if he/she has not already done so. Book conversations give your child a chance to express thoughts and opinions about these books. These are NEVER forced conversations, and Mrs. Daniel is always guided by how each child wishes to respond. Ms. Daniel can most often punch cards on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Help your child fill out a book report form, if you like. A supply is kept in the folder on the Families Read bulletin board. You may leave the completed form on the left side of the folder.
  • When your child has finished all the books, she/he will be given a “certificate” indicating completion of that semester’s program! Congratulations!