Monday, November 2, 2009

What is Literacy? describes literacy as "the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read or write."  I would go further to say that literacy also includes speaking and listening.  But, literacy isn’t just about the physical act of reading, writing, speaking, and listening; it includes the enjoyment of and the engagement in reading and writing.  Literate children find reading fun and exciting.  They use reading to learn about a wide range of subjects and they use writing to share what they learn. 

As a teacher, it was my goal that students left my classroom better readers and writers than when they first stepped in.  In order to accomplish that, we immersed ourselves in literacy.  We read, we wrote, we spoke, and we listened.  But, we also immersed ourselves in books.  It wasn't just about academics, it was about becoming engaged readers because we wanted to read, not because we had to read.

I have done the same at home.  My children have been immersed in books since they each joined our family.  I've read to them every day since they were born (and really before, if you count the reading I did when they were in utero).  We talk about the books we read.  We look forward to and enjoy our reading time together. 

It is my belief that parents are children's first teachers.  If we don't entice our children with literacy in the first five years, it makes it a lot harder for children to become engaged readers when they begin formal schooling.  It is so important that we model for our children the importance of reading every day.  We can do this by being readers ourselves.  But, we can also do this by reading to our children.      

Two fantastic resources to guide parents (and teachers) when reading aloud to children are: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox.

In future posts this month, I hope to share some ways that my family incorporates literacy into our everyday lives.  In the meantime, what ways do you incorporate literacy into lives of children from birth to age five?

Happy Reading,

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