Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Literacy Does Not Stop at Kindergarden

Very few families know what the definition of "Family Literacy", and it is probably a safe bet that very few actually know that they are practicing random acts of "Family literacy" everyday. November 1st marks the awareness of Family Literacy. As a profession, librarians should be educating families coming into the library on the importance of family Literacy and that is is a life long journey with their child. Ways to share this information is through handouts, programs, and readers' advisory. Using one or all of these methods will encourage parents to become active participants in their children's reading habits.

Family literacy is a springboard for babies and tots to be ready for their school years. Early introduction to sounds, print recognition and books are critical to aiding a child's learning experience. At this time, the statistics of how children who are read to do better in schools than their counterparts who are not read to will not be repeated. The numbers have been used time and again, with the conclusion being a "no brainer" Of course, a child who is read to succeeds in school What the numbers don't reveal is "why" some children are read to and other are not. Is it based on social/economic issues? Is it the education level of the parents? Is it that parents don't feel there are enough hours in the day to add one more activity? While we can not change any of these factors, librarians can provide positive examples of how to fit in little moments "literacy" everyday. Some quick examples are reading a recipe together, while driving reading street signs or simply talking with children about their day. All of these activities help children to read, express themselves and explore their world.

One very important factor to remember is that family literacy does not end at kindergarden. The nights of cuddling up with your youngster with a favorite book may change a bit over the years, but it is important for parents to be active in their child's reading habits. In most cases, when children get too "old" to be read to, parents assume that its time for children to read on their own. Yes, it's true that children relish the independence of reading a "big kid" book alone but it's a shame to not carry literacy further. For example, children and parents can discuss the book's plot, characters and message. This adds to the literacy and comprehension by allowing children to relate to the story in their own words. As librarians, challenge the parents who bring their children in to read the books their children are reading. If they take the challenge they will be "clued" into what their children are thinking, what they are curious about and who the "top" literary character is in modern Children/YA literature. Hey, it may be even become a "badge" of coolness for parents to wear proudly.

There are literally hundreds of way to share the love of reading with children. It can either be with playing a game as a family or reading the comics on Sunday morning. By practicing random acts of "Literacy" parents are preparing their children for school, work and life. Communication is everything, and knowing how to gather information and communicate with others is vitally important. The key to "success" for all children has been and always will be Literacy. Remember, the family that reads together, learns together.
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