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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
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Promote family reading with these practical ideas and tips.
Parents can have a big influence when they spend time reading with their children. Family literacy begins in the home and can help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of families. Family literacy builds on strengths and addresses the needs of parents and their children. School library media specialists and teachers can help parents learn how to make the most of this special reading time with their children. Family literacy can take many forms: parents and children reading together, a family literacy night, or celebrating annual National Family Literacy Day on November 1. Family Literacy NightPlanning a family literacy night can be quite simple. I’ve used the schedule below for several years, and parents have enjoyed the 60-minute format, as it accommodates their busy home schedules. Parents leave with a simple message: read to your young children 20 minutes a day.Schedule
Goody Bag Resources
As part of the take-home materials, consider including downloadable resources from the National Institute for Literacy, available at www.nifl.gov. (Note that free copies of these publications may be ordered ahead of time through the institute’s Web site.) The “Shining Stars” publication series is aimed at parents and describes proven strategies on the teaching of reading. The booklets provide suggestions to help preschool to third-grade children learn to read. A story is included in each booklet, along with activities parents can use to build reading skills and a checklist of developmental skills. Fathers have a responsibility to get involved in their children’s reading development. “Dad’s Playbook: Coaching Kids to Read,” another downloadable handout available on the National Institute for Literacy Web site, provides practical ideas and information about fathers becoming literacy coaches. This publication features 20 real-life profiles of everyday dads who are helping their children learn to read.Also, don’t forget the public library and your local bookstore when planning a literacy night; soliciting their support and involvement will help make the event a success.More IdeasClosed CaptioningClosed captioning was first introduced as a service for the deaf and hard of hearing, but the National Parent Teacher Association, the National Education Association, and Action for Children’s Television have all endorsed captioning as a tool to increase literacy. The simple task of turning on a television’s closed-captioning feature can subtly increase a person’s literacy. As viewers watch a television show, the connection between hearing and seeing the words will increase and improve vocabulary. In classrooms, encourage teachers to turn on the captioning when watching DVDs, films, and videos and encourage students to do this at home. Begin an interesting program with the captions displayed. Halfway through the show, turn off the sound, and students will have to read in order to learn how the program ends.Reading OnlineChildren enjoy using computers both at school and home, and there are a variety of free online resources that will read books aloud. Consider presenting a staff development session on the online digital resources listed below and repeat the same for Family Literacy Night. The International Children’s Digital Library Web site at http://childrenslibrary.org offers nearly 4,000 books in 53 languages. This wonderful resource can enable families to read and grow together. Parents originally from other parts of the world can read aloud books about their native culture—sometimes in their first language and also in English. When they click on the “Read Books” icon on the home page, visitors are taken to a “Simple Search” page, which is readable in 16 languages. It is then possible to read or browse books in the visitors’ first language, or any other language the library offers, and read books onscreen.Other free sites include Big Universe (www.biguniverse.com), which features online books searchable by age, category, and language, and Reading Is Fundamental (www.rif.org), which has a “Leading to Reading” section with a variety of literacy activities in three age categories: Babies and Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Grown-Ups. RIF also features “Reading Planet,” designed for ages 6–15, with stories in which the text is highlighted as it is read aloud. Online reading resources that require paid subscriptions include Scholastic’s BookFlix, which pairs video stories from Weston Woods with nonfiction e-books, and PebbleGo from Capstone Press, a database that introduces early readers to research concepts through information on hundreds of animals. If funding is a problem for online subscription resources, check with your Title I person and request that Title I Parental Involvement funds be used.
Family literacy involves everyone. All it takes is a good book and time to read and share it. Make family literacy activities a habit in your home and school.
Literacy Development at Home
Involving Parents in Their Children’s Reading Development: A Guide for Teachers. By Bruce Johnson. 2008. 112p. Treasure Bay, paper, $19.95 (9781601152008). Full of practical tips, suggestions, and plans, Johnson’s useful guide will help teachers and librarians alike connect with parents and encourage literacy development in the home. A veteran reading specialist, Johnson offers advice for helping parents of prereaders, struggling and reluctant readers, as well as tips for maintaining reading skills through the summer. Johnson also stresses the importance of involving parents in the reading development process at school. Chapters feature reading-related games and activities, reproducibles, and sample scripts.Note that Treasure Bay also offers a series of more than 30 children’s books for K–2 readers and their parents called We Both Read. Titles in this series are designed for parents and children to take turns reading to each other, and the books include both fictional stories and folktales as well as factual titles on animals. Other books designed specifically for parents and children to read aloud to each other include Mary Ann Hoberman’s You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series, comprising four titles: You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together (2001); You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together (2004); You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together (2005); and You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together (2007).
For links to all of the online resources mentioned here as well as other Web sites related to family literacy, visit the Book Links’ October issue “Web Connections.”
Terrence E. Young Jr. is a school library media specialist at West Jefferson High School in New Orleans, Louisiana, and adjunct instructor of library science at the University of New Orleans.
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