Early reading is, without a doubt, one of the best gifts we can give our children.

Reading benefits a child’s communication, thinking and language skills. Reading also teaches children about the world around them, introduces them to different cultures, and allows them to flex their brain muscles.

Summer is here and our kids are enjoying their breaks from school. There is no better time to perfect our family’s reading skills. Many local libraries offer Summer Reading programs but there is a program that has caught the attention of many Latina mothers.

The Latinas for Latino Lit Summer Reading Program is an innovative online program that recognizes today’s students are native to technology and, therefore, uses interactive web-based programs, apps and social media to help bridge the literacy gap.

In order to develop and maintain literacy skills such as reading comprehension and vocabulary development during the ten week program, children read eight books. Latinas for Latino Lit has designed reading lists with book titles in English and Spanish that feature Hispanic children’s authors and illustrators.

Reading lists are available for children:

- Under 4 years old
- 4 to 8 years old
- 9 to 18 years old

Latinas for Latino Lit, which is also called L4LL, is offering the L4LL Do-It-Yourself Summer Reading Camp, a pedagogically designed program for children in 2nd through 6th grade that, for a modest subscription fee, gives parents and students access to 10 themes such as art, sports, music and more than 100 pages of literacy-building activity worksheets.

After registering for the program and downloading the Summer Reading Camp package, participants can engage with Latinas for Latino Lit through interactive events including literacy and family-focused crafts, YouTube videos, Google+ Hangouts on Air, and at the end of the summer they can qualify to enter contests for great reading incentives such as a Google Chromebooks.

Latinas for Latino Lit is an education and literacy organization led by Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D., and Monica Olivera-Hazelton. With a combined three decades of experience in education, Viviana and Monica saw a need for culturally relevant content for Latino families.

In an NPR interview, Hurtado said: “It's important that Latino children see themselves represented in books, in media, in movies because that's the power of identification.”

Hurtado added that representation matters to all young children because it can “help students realize their ambitions and dreams, spark imagination, [and make them] want to go further with their professional and their academic goals. It's equally important for all children - white children, African-American, Asian and all of the mixed children that are out there - to see what other kids look like and their experiences.”

To register for the Latinas for Latino Lit DIY Summer Camp or to find more information about the organization you can visit the Latinas for Latino Lit website.