Promoting Literacy In Children | A Blog for Principals and Teachers – School Matters

 
 

Promoting Literacy In Children

 
 

 

 
iStock 000007245500Small 150x150 Promoting Literacy In ChildrenHave you read a good book lately?  Not to yourself, but to your students.
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Promoting literacy in children must include reading to them. It is estimated that between 25 to 40 percent of American children have  difficulties advancing in their studies because of reading difficulties.  They lack the vocabulary, word attack skills, have a reading disability or just plain don’t read fast enough to be able to handle the material they are required to read. If our students are having trouble reading then Sustained Silent Reading isn’t going to cut it anymore. Literacy education must begin with modeling for our students a love of reading. What better way to promote early literacy than sharing a book with them?
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While technological advances have made access to some literature easier in the form of e-books etc., there is still nothing better than holding the real thing in your hands and sharing the author’s creativity with your students.  In particular, I find the wealth of picture books available extremely suitable for engaging students. The range of topics is wide and the types of illustrations vary from actual photographs, to collages and computer generated images. Since our students are growing up in a very visually oriented society, we can capitalize on their interest in images and share the wonderful language that accompanies them in these books. Many libraries have web sites which offer graded lists of books including a synopsis of the story and sometimes illustrations which can help you make your selection.
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While reading to our students we can enjoin them to make predictions; identify feelings; solicit empathy; recognize sequences; add new language to their vocabulary; even model use of word attack skills, all important components of a good literacy program. In addition, students can be given a journal writing assignment; research a topic such as historical background generated from the story; or even create a drawing, painting or three dimensional object based on an aspect of the book. The important thing is to let your enthusiasm and enjoyment shine through in your presentation of the book.
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Even older students enjoy being read to. Perhaps in light of the fact that one fifth of those students graduating from high school can’t read their diploma, we can encourage them to get involved in reading by reading aloud sections of the required literature materials. Even sharing a book based on a popular movie  can be used to help students identify what is different in the book, generating use of good language and literary terminology.
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Another good activity to promote literacy in children is to organize a book club. Children can be encouraged to read a certain number of books over the course of several weeks and then once a month the students have lunch together in the classroom with the teacher and discuss what they have read. This can be used even in early literacy programs with the children having their parents initial a list of stories which were read to them. (This is also a great way to involve parents in your literacy education program.) Alternatively, for older students, the book club can function in the traditional manner with all participants reading the same book and sharing their thoughts and impressions on what they have read.
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Another idea is to set a goal for the class of reading a certain number of books and when the goal is reached the whole class gets a treat. I know my young students love seeing our bookworm grow as he works his way around the room with each book read forming another section of his body. Older students can use a picture of a soccer field with increments towards the goal. This activity encourages all to participate without feelings of failure that may be present  when one child’s list of books grows longer and longer.
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Having your class write and illustrate a book together is another good way to encourage literacy.  In the younger grades this can be done fairly easily and the books can then be put into “circulation” with the students taking turns bringing the volume home to share with their families. This is one project that can make good use of technology in the classroom as if it is produced on the computer; it can be shared with everyone quickly and easily through the class’ Web site.  Storybird.com can help you and your students get started and as they become more proficient they can develop books on their own. As language experience taught us; what they write, they can read.
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Literacy education is a major part of our jobs as educators.  Reading to our children and promoting independent reading activities will help them to gain an appreciation of language, encourage early literacy and develop an enjoyment of reading. As we prepare the future work force for our society, we need to hold ourselves accountable for striving for higher levels of literacy in children.
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2 Comments

  1. Mohd Rosli Saidin says:

    Perhapsthe most useful aspect in every line of interest is to know why or how to do it.So,a child must know why they should read and how they should do it. A curious child could read about how aeroplanes fly and be obsessed about it the minute they see the picture of a plane. The reason for the child to read is he wants to know how aeroplanes fly-simple,isn’t it? Reading should be made purposeful along the childrens’ line of interests.

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