“Read 15 minutes every evening.”
This is the advice that Fabi Harb, Multicultural Marketing Manager for Infinity Auto, gives to busy parents who may have difficulty supporting their children in school due to busy schedules, language barriers, or uncertainty on how to help. One of Fabi’s main responsibilities is managing Read Conmigo, Infinity Auto’s nonprofit arm that aims to provide free bilingual books to families with children in preschool and elementary school. Read Conmigo began in 2011 when, upon deciding they wanted to launch a program aimed at giving back to their mainly Latino clientele, Infinity ran focus groups and learned the main resource parents wanted was access to books and the possibility of a home library. Since then, the program has grown exponentially and now offers e-books and a Read Conmigo app in addition to the over one million books that have been shipped directly to participants’ homes completely free of charge.
Born in Mexico City, Fabi understands the personal benefits of bilingual literacy, especially in an increasingly global world that requires Spanish proficiency for many jobs. However, children’s books can be extremely expensive, and even major booksellers lack an extensive bilingual children’s book section. Although parents may have access to a community library, they have few opportunities to build a home library. By hosting “Back to School” nights and other community events to enroll families in the program, Fabi has been able to grow Read Conmigo’s reach and provide books to families throughout the California and Miami areas. Fabi hopes to expand the program to add more languages to make it more accessible to a wider range of families.
As a UCLA Volunteer Center Community Partner, Read Conmigo has provided 100 free bilingual children’s books to Project SPELL, as well as materials to instruct Project SPELL participants on how to enroll their families. Her advice for Project SPELL participants who struggle with English is simple: “Just keep going. Each session is one step forward. Que le echen ganas!”