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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Is access to books enough? Nope.

June 10, 2011

Far too many children within the U.S. and abroad live in homes with little or no access to books. Among other things, no access means no reading materials for the summer months. Grass roots efforts like summer reading bags and neighborhood book swaps, public libraries, and organizations such as First Book and Book Ends in Southern California all operate with a goal to increase access to reading material for kids in need. David Bornstein quoted Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, as writing "simply providing access is the first and most important step in encouraging literacy development."

If access to books is the first step, parent education and a child's motivation must be steps two and three (and I'm not sure of the order!). Once we're able to get books into the hands of young readers, we need to:

  • Make sure parents understand some basics about reading with kids. For example, parents should feel comfortable letting a child to reread a book several times. I've had parents tell me they think it's "cheating" for their child to reread a book they already know how to read. There are lots of tips for parents out there.
  • Encourage parents to talk about the book before, during and after they're reading and how to make the most out of the interesting words within books
  • Make reading a priority every day. It's not a choice between TV and a book. It's a book, and then see what happens!
  • Mix it up! Let's encourage kids to read widely this summer.
    Share lots of different kinds, or genre, of books with our readers to expose them to different words, different pictures, and whole new worlds. Mixing it up is sure to spark new motivation in your reader.

Summer officially started at our house today — here's to lazy, hot days with a good book for all kids!

Comments

Fantastic post! I wanted to let you know about great organizations like the Parent Child Home Program (pchp.org). Their very mission is to provide parents with not only the books and toys to build a home library but also the tools and modeling to make parents their child's first and best teachers. Check PCHP out- it is a wonderful program

Thank you for this wonderful post. Campaigns that provide books to children often don't realize the importance of motivating young readers by introducing them to characters that they can identify with. This is especially the case with children from minority groups in the US and the developing world who have to work twice as hard to understand the language AND the predominantly western society depicted in most donated books. One Moore Book is an organization that is committed to producing culturally sensitive books to children from minority backgrounds and countries with low literacy rates. OMB recently completed their first installment of books dedicated to children from the west African nation of Liberia. Please visit their website for more information http://www.onemoorebook.com/

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb