Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Share Curiosity

The Library of Congress (bless them!) has chosen to encourage parents to read with their children in a new series of public service announcements featuring Curious George!

How I missed this fact until today is beyond me.  Thankfully my friend Cindy was kind enough to bring it to my attention. The ads are wonderful (both print and video) and bring me endless joy but the information on their website is golden.

Many middle class families assume that sharing a bedtime story with a child is a given but the fact is that there are many, many families out there who do not engage in these literacy practices.

The reasons can range from lack of interest, lack of resources or from a feeling that they are not doing it right. Shirley Brice Heath's seminal study provides a stunning example of the nuisances at play here.

The point is to read!  The Matthew effect kicks in because the more you read the better you become as a reader and the better reader you are the more you want to read.

I applaud the Library of Congress for their clear message and for choosing Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat to help spread the word.

Share Curiosity.  Read Together.


Barbara said...

Some families don't read to their children because they don't speak or read English well. We are in the process of providing a first computer to such a Hispanic family. My husband discovered a software subscription called "One More Story" which will allow young Margalen to listen to stories being read to her with the ability to follow along on the screen. It allows her to choose from a huge library of books. It may not be as intimate as having a parent read a bedtime story, but it sounds like the next best thing to me!

Gary said...

Barbara - That is yet another reason. They could of course read in whatever language they know but I do find that in America many families feel 'less than' because they are not fluent in English. And culturally many families feel it is best to leave it to the teachers because that is their job.

One More Story is wonderful. Our school has a subscription to it that we all use. Also take a look at I watched Betty White read Harry the Dirty Dog today.

Barbara said...

Unfortunately many immigrant families have very little education in their native language. Margalen's mom attended school through 3rd grade in Guatemala, so I'm guessing her ability to read Spanish may be not be much better than her 4th grade daughter's ability to read English.

Thanks for the "storyline" link. I think this may be an excellent idea for us!

Pauline said...

Some of my second graders say the read aloud stories we share in class are the only ones they hear - makes me sad. I remember the winter my kids and their dad and I spent in the basement as we built our log cabin over our heads. In the light of a kerosene lamp we read 123 books aloud. Some of them were picture books read by the youngest, some were classics like Huck Finn, and some were random choices from the library. We all took turns reading - all my kids are readers still :)

Gary said...

Barbara - That does seem to happen quite a bit also. I have had parents over the years who have come to this country because they wanted their children to have a better education than they did. I see them make sacrifices to do this and I see how powerless they feel sometimes. Quite a struggle.

Pauline - What vivid imagery you have created here for me (you always seem to do that). I love the picture I get of your family reading to each other, taking a little peace amongst all of the chaos of building. Everyone loves to hear stories and being read to is an enjoyable experience. I have had talks with other educators who mourn the fact that we stop reading to students when they get older. There is so much of it in the early grades. I remember my 6th grade teacher would read to us and that was one of the highlights of school for me. You brought all this back - Thanks.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

kudos to the l.o.c

somehow i missed this campaign too! thanks for the head's up!

and it doesn't just have to be parents reading to children! takes a village!!!

i'm a frequent visitor to the children's area at my library and when i start to read aloud (quietly of course) to ms t or another child that is with me, we're like magnets and soon there are other kids sitting around listening to the story. it is such a joy not just for the kids but for the reader as well.

Gary said...

Kimy - A village indeed! Lauren and I took our class to Barnes & Noble a few years ago and we sat them in the 100 Acre Wood reading area to tell them a story (she signed, I voiced) and slowly all of these children and their caregivers sat down to join us. Some even left their kids there and walked away! They thought we were B&N employees, not teachers with our students. We had fun that day and always enjoy reading stories for children. You are welcome to read another mouse tale on your next visit. xo


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