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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Meet Tashina Foust, Book Babies intern

Editor’s note: This week, we had the opportunity to interview Tashina Foust, our Book Babies summer intern. Although we can’t invite you to stop by our closed office and meet her in person, we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on learning a little bit more about this wonderful member of our team!

Book Harvest:  Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family. 

Tashina: Hi, my name is Tashina! I am an early educator, and I have worked as an infant teacher for almost four years now. I am a mother of two lovely daughters, and I am currently getting my master’s in Educational Leadership specializing in Early Education public policy and advocacy.

BH: How did you first get connected to Book Harvest?

TF: When I had my youngest daughter, we were on Medicaid, and because of that they send a worker in to tell you about many things in your community that may help you with your new beautiful bundle of joy. One of the things they told me about was Book Babies. They walked me through and helped me sign up and everything. Then [Book Babies home visitor] Kenitra came to my house and brought us some books. I thought that was all it was, but she talked to us, she introduced us to high contrast books and how they are helpful to infants. She read books to my daughters, and my eldest who had a speech delay just lit up. At the time we only had two books that the girls’ grandparents had bought and a few library books. To get that first set of books really helped my daughters. For the first time in a long time they had new bedtime stories. It helped their literacy skills, and it was a wonderful bonding time. Since then we have had the opportunity to be part of a parents’ book club and go to events they have hosted at Durham Central Park. It’s been really great for our family.

BH: Tell me all about your work with us this summer: how did the internship come to be? What are you working on?

TF: I started this internship after talking with Kenitra at a virtual home visit after COVID-19 hit. As part of my master’s, I needed a placement. I had been looking for something that would allow me to help the most children possible. I wanted to do something that would enhance my understanding of how I can help others in my community. Fortunately for me, Kenitra had a spot for me. I didn’t have a specific number of hours per week, but I had to do 100 hours over 8 weeks.

BH: Is there anything important you’ve learned from your internship so far? Any insight you’ve gained that you want to share?

TF: Through my internship I learned more about Dialogic reading. I read a few studies and found out that Dialogic reading is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to increase literacy over a four-week period from 25 to 54% when implemented by parents or teachers, although the greatest effect was with parents. In fact, studies show that children can even receive the increase in early childhood literacy if they watch videos of dialogic reading and they and their parents interact during the video. That was something I learned, but even more than that I learned how many people out there like me just need a little help, and a program like Book Babies and Book Harvest helped me in ways I didn’t even know I needed help with at the time. I learned how much I wanted to help others.

BH: What do you hope to accomplish through your internship, both for yourself and for Book Harvest?

TF: When I had started this, I had hoped COVID-19 would end and I might be able to get in and see how programs like Book Harvest run and how they help the community. I wanted to be more hands on. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still around, so my goals have shifted. I now just want to do the most I can to help the children of the community, even if I can’t get there in person. That is where the Dialogic videos came in. It gives me along with all the great people at Book Babies and Book Harvest an opportunity to reach children in new ways during this pandemic.

BH: Do you think your work with us this summer will impact your daily life beyond Book Harvest? How?

TF: I think it will continue to impact my daily life. I have already been in conversation with my supervisors at the child care center I work at to begin implementing Dialogic reading on a regular basis. I have also begin coaching our preschool teachers, and using dialogic reading in my classroom and at home with my babies. I chose this career because I just want to be able to help a larger number of people, and this program does that every day. It has been an honor to work with you all.

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