skip to main content


Children, Youth and Families Programs

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.


The foundation for literacy is built during the preschool years through reading. Time spent reading fosters children’s interest in reading and builds confidence, while helping to eliminate some of the severe consequences of poor literacy skills, including lack of grade retention, school failure, school dropout, delinquency, unemployment and underemployment.

The Nevada Literacy Coalition estimates that nearly 25 percent of youth and adults in the state have inadequate literacy skills, placing Nevada’s children at extremely high risk for developing illiteracy-related problems in the future. Studies show 51 percent of third-grade and 47 percent of fourth-grade students are below basic reading level. The percentage of Spanish-speaking immigrants is expected to increase in Nevada over the next 25 years, so it is likely that ever-larger numbers of children who are English-language learners and at risk for low achievement will be entering Nevada schools. Parents with limited language skills cannot always teach their preschoolers. Breaking the cycle is important to ensure that preschoolers have the reading skills needed to succeed.

What Has Been Done:

Family Storyteller is a six-week series of workshops targeting families at risk for low literacy and related problems. Each workshop includes viewing a 10-minute video, learning book-reading techniques, practicing reading to children and other literacy activities. A book and packet of materials go home with the parents and children so they can continue their reading and activities together.

The program has expanded statewide. In Las Vegas, it is taught in both English and Spanish — in homes as well as in group settings such as libraries, childcare centers, Classroom on Wheels and elementary schools.

There are four versions of Family Storyteller:

  • The original program for lower-literacy English-speaking families;
  • A second curriculum for English-language learners;
  • A third curriculum being developed for Spanish-speaking families who do not yet speak English; and
  • A fourth curriculum being pilot-tested for Native American families.

Children’s literacy and language skills have improved as a result of Family Storyteller. Results of a comprehensive three-year evaluation show both parents and children gained in English vocabulary and book knowledge. Program evaluations statewide show that, after participating, parents and children read together more often; their literacy and language activities increased; and parents used the skills taught in the program more often.

After participating in the program:

  • Parents and children read together more often;
  • Parents used skills taught in the program, such as encouraging their children to guess what happens next and to learn new vocabulary words;
  • Parent-child literacy and language activities increased; and
  • Children increased their understanding of book basics and their enjoyment of reading.

Spanish-speaking families improved as follows:

  • Children and parents increased their English vocabulary;
  • Parents increased their ability to use English;
  • Parents increased their knowledge of book basics; and
  • Parents increased their shared reading skills and enjoyment of reading with their children.

Family Storyteller has been directly taught to more than 11,550 Nevada families, of which more than 80 percent are Hispanic, by UNCE educators and by more than 325 trained volunteers. The curriculum was selected as a national Cooperative Extension program to be distributed across the country. More than 235 curricula have been purchased for use in 29 other states.

In 2007, this program received the Western Extension Directors’ Award of Excellence.


Nevada’s College of Education and Agricultural Experiment Station, the Northern Nevada Literacy Council, State Library System, Children’s Cabinet, Head Start, Even Start, Preschools and Private Donors.

See also: For additional information, visit the Family Storyteller Web site.

Contacts: Sally Martin, State Family Life Specialist, 775-784-7009,
Dan Weigel, Human Development Specialist, 775-784-4848
Southern Nevada: YaeBin Kim, Parenting Education and Child Development Specialist, 702-257-5521

Children, Youth and Families Programs

Programs Program Information

4-H Afterschool

All children face risks as they grow and develop, but children who live in low-income housing or are homeless may be at higher risk for participating in risky behaviors. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed the 4-H After School Club (ASC) to teach children basic life skills including math, reading, science, positive communication, goal setting, self-responsibility, decision-making and good nutrition. Youth who have these life skills are less likely to participate in risky behaviors.

4-H Youth Development

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

All 4 Kids

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by UNCE faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.


University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed Bootstraps, a high-risk youth program that helps teens return to school and/or gain meaningful work.

Calming the Waters: Learning to Manage Western Water Conflict

Conflict has surrounded the Truckee, Carson and Walker River Basins for decades. Key issues include historical use on tribal lands, historical and current water rights, threats to water quality, and wildlife habitat protection. This program teaches youth about Nevada’s water issues and helps them develop the skills needed to address future water conflicts.

Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A Workforce Readiness Program

The Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! is a workforce readiness program for high school students focused on skill development for workplace and job success. Career Edge helps high school students prepare to get their first "paying" job while working toward their dream job or career. Career Edge provides information and training on interview skills, résumé development, filling out applications, finding job leads and selecting appropriate clothing for the workplace. In addition, many "soft skills" needed in the workplace such as decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are integrated throughout the program.

Caring 4 Kids Self-study Guides

Child Passenger Safety Program

Churchill County Community Readiness Network

Nevada communities need rapid access to information during an emergency. In an effort to enhance community preparedness, safety and available resources and by using GPS and GIS mapping, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth and adult leaders in Churchill County are working with community emergency managers to address evacuation and shelter mapping.

Exploring Your True Colors: Building an Effective Team--Team Development Course

Exploring Your True Colors is a fun, dynamic and interactive personality program that is based on the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey-Bates studies. Individuals explore and discover their basic temperament and characteristics associated with that temperament. Through personal assessment and experiential activities, participants acquire a deeper understanding of themselves and those they work with. They also discover valuable insights that have innumerable applications in work, family, and personal relationships. The Exploring Your True Colors program encourages teamwork, promotes effective communication and enhances customer service and overall workplace productivity.

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

Fun To Play

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Fun To Play program targets families where, due to the young age, inexperience or limited resources of the parents, young children are placed at-risk for developmental delays and later school difficulties. Fun To Play is a series of weekly infant/child sessions aimed at improving the parenting skills of young parents by increasing the amount of learning activities and interaction they provide their children.

Heart and Shield

Parents and children who have experienced domestic violence in the past participate in hands-on activities to foster family bonds, enhance communication and problem solving skills, and focus on healthy relationships. Parents learn about their child’s development, parenting styles, guidance, coping skills and health and wellness while children and youth build friendships, listening and other social and emotional skills. Each session of the 12-week program includes a healthy snack or meal, separate parent and child meetings, family-based activities, a health and wellness tip and a closing activity. Parent interact with one another during the parent meetings through group discussions, role play and other experiential-based activities. Children and youth learn important skills through play, group discussions, theatre arts, games and other hands on activities.

Keeping Kids Safe: Recognizing, Reporting, and Responding to Child Maltreatment

Preventing child abuse and neglect is a high priority in Elko County. Child caregivers, youth workers, volunteers and anyone interested in learning what they can do to prevent child abuse and neglect can attend this workshop. Participants learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, understand their reporting requirements and their role in preventing child maltreatment.

Little Books and Little Cooks

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Little Books & Little Cooks program is a national ward winning program (from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) to address parenting and nutrition information. The program teaches both parents and their young children (ages 3-5) important milestones of early learning and literacy, school readiness and good nutrition through a seven-week program. Topics for seven weeks include: proper hand washing procedure, food safety and kitchen safety rules, USDA MyPlate (five food groups), benefits of cooking with children, multicultural foods, parents’ feeding style and hunger and fullness cues, picky eating behaviors, and importance of eating fruits and vegetables. Reading children’s books about nutrition and healthy eating as well as cooking and eating together allow both children and parents to learn about healthy eating and nutrition and gain positive parent-child interaction skills. This program offers children a way to learn important pre-kindergarten skills, including math, science, physical development, health and nutrition, literacy development, social development and creative arts, as well as to try new, nutritious foods.

Nevada State GEAR UP

Partners in Parenting

Partners in Parenting promotes positive parenting and child health and development, thereby preventing child abuse and other poor childhood outcomes.

Project MAGIC

Project MAGIC is an innovative, collaborative program designed to help juvenile offenders leave the criminal justice system and become productive members of society. While participating in the program, young people ages 12 to 18 learn: positive communication skills, team building, problem solving and decision making, self-responsibility, conflict resolution, aspiration building and goal setting. Youth also select and conduct a service project designed to benefit their community. Parent sessions include the same life skills.