Archive | Unite for Literacy

Navajo Reservation Sign

How to Become Proficient in English…or Not

A few years back I spent time in Navajo schools, working for various teachers, coaching them on literacy instruction and inserting as much support as I could for their ongoing professional growth. One visit coincided with the annual English Proficiency Test administered to students. Hearing that, my first response was, “Wait! These kids were raised speaking English. […]

African American Family Eating Meal At Home Together

The Cost of Free Books

I’m currently working with the Kentucky Humanities Prime Time Project in a school in my home town. The fabulous librarian coordinates this project which has invited 40 of the school’s Hispanic families (parents AND kids) to enjoy a light meal, some picture-book read-aloud time and participate in demonstrations of humanities-based conversations about the books once a week. Humanities conversations focus […]

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First WHY, Then HOW

It seems that these days every news or scholarly article about literacy development contains the word “skills.” Reading and writing skills, to be exact. We want to teach children to read and write, but instead we teach reading and writing SKILLS. What’s up with that? I believe it’s because skills are easier to measure than lifelong learning habits. Skills get attention because […]

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What’s Your Family Culture?

Culture is everything in creating family connection. Members of most cultures share values and commonly admired lifestyles to which others in the same culture aspire. In multi-cultural settings like the United States of America or Canada where hundreds of languages and cultures create a shared community, it is difficult to assess a single value placed on […]

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When Is It Time to STOP Reading?

How do adults decide when a child has read enough? How much is enough as part of homework, or a read-a-thon of  Harry Potter or other popular books, or interesting websites? There are lots of folks waving red flag figures targeting what is too little time for children reading on their own. One common recommendation is for primary and […]

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They’ll Watch Us Digging

My neighbor’s kids gave her a truly precious puppy for her 85th birthday. Right. My thought exactly. Why not a sweet, older, house-trained dog?! But she seems thrilled and has escape proofed her picket-fenced yard with chicken wire and filled it with balls to entertain Coco. As we observed her active new companion, my wife and I […]

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Children’s Questions Guide Literacy Development

Children signal a preparedness to learn to read and write by carefully observing what older kids and adults do and then asking questions. They carefully observe mature models of literate behavior who make themselves available during daily reading times and in the sharing of letters and birthday cards. Writing interest is reflected in children’s curiosity […]

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Practice Makes Perfect? Not.

Children and adults that bemoan being poor readers and/or writers seem to have either missed out on or forgotten the golden rule of human learning. While nothing a human does ever makes things perfect, despite what the old saying says, enjoyable practice always leads to improvement. Always. Erin never was and never will be a particularly good […]

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How to Turn Little Readers into Big Readers

I recently read about hyper-successful people who are considered Big Readers. They all, happily, read a lot…every day. There were also lists of books that rich and/or successful people (e.g., Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey) recommended. Almost all of the books were specifically focused upon developments around the success which for each famous […]

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Talking about Talking about Books

“Read to your kids!” That directive echoes down the halls of every maternity ward, is heard in the waiting rooms of every good pediatrician’s office and is certainly in every school classroom, regardless of the age of a student. But that statement packs so much more meaning, and too often the larger message is lost, turning what […]