Best practice for Literacy Volunteers: READ and TALK

An excerpt from a program I recently did for Literacy Volunteers:

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team of parents, educators, volunteers and caregivers, working together to make sure children acquire the early literacy skill they need to enter school and be successful learners. Children are made readers on the laps of their parents but when this is not the case, often the efforts of a literacy volunteer saves the day.

Children who come to school with well-developed skills in finding meaning from books are clearly at an advantage. Someone in the home read to the children, answered their questions, and encouraged them to read and write. The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2000) says parents and other regular caregivers in children’s lives are the ‘active ingredients’ of environmental influence on children’s development.   However sad the case, many children don’t get the support they need at home and the role of a literacy volunteer is the bright and shinning ray of hope for those children.

We know that a child’s desire to learn to read comes from being read to and the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. BUT being read to does not automatically lead to literacy. The real link seems to lie in the verbal interaction that occurs between adult and child during story reading. Talking with children had an even stronger effect on literacy learning than reading aloud to them.


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