Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan - December 2016 Newsletter

every child ready to read

Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan  -  December 2016

In This Issue:

This Month's Wisdom...

"...early literacy practices are natural things to do with children that will lay the important foundation so that a child will be able to learn to read easily when arriving at school."

~ Sue McCleaf Nespeca


Training Staff on ECRR Principles


One of the workshops in the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) Manual is a workshop to train library staff, including the library director and other administrative staff, youth services staff, and others who may be involved in planning for or delivering early literacy programs. The workshop is intended to last under an hour and incorporates background information on ECRR and an overview of the Parent Workshop. Here are just a few key points that are covered in this workshop:

A. To become successful readers, children need an understanding that written letters (a code) represent spoken sounds.

B. Children also need comprehension skills to understand the meaning conveyed by print.

C. Children develop decoding and comprehension skills through interactions with adults and their environment.

D. Learning letter names and sounds is critical to learning how to decode, or read, words.

E. Print conventions like knowing how to hold a book, turn pages, and follow sentences on a page help a beginning reader, but they are not a predictor of later reading achievement.

F. Experiences that develop oral language, phonological awareness, and letter knowledge play an important role in helping children get ready to read.

G. Reading together with children continues to be one of the most powerful ways to develop early literacy skills

H. How parents read to children makes a difference. Talking about books and extending the conversation about a story by asking and answering questions leads to greater learning.

I. Repeatedly reading the same book helps children learn vocabulary, how stories are structured, and other literacy skills.

J. Reading and writing go together. Writing activities help children learn about letter names and sounds, that print has meaning, and that writing has a purpose.

K. The environment influences learning. Spaces at the library (and at home) can be organized to support the development of early literacy skills. How space is arranged and used affects how often and how long children engage in early literacy activities.

For more information on this workshop (and to see actual PowerPoint slides that are included) you may wish to listen to the webinar that was offered in March of this year and that was recorded. You can find the webinar here: http://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-62245-370596--,00.html  (March 8, 2016 recording.)

New Books of the Month

Todd Parr

Be Who You Are! Todd Parr. Little, Brown, 2016. 
ISBN: 978-0-316-26523-2. $17.99.

It’s true that Todd has addressed this theme before with his 2001 book It’s Okay to Be Different, but quite frankly, I have not seem much of a change from 2001 with children in relation to issues of bullying or accepting others that are different from them in some way. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a need for this book.

Parr’s usual bright colored child-like appealing illustrations are in evidence here too. The last page of the book pretty much sums up the rest of the text. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, where you are from, or who’s in your family. Everyone needs to be loved. Always love yourself and just be who you are!”

Bill Martin Jr

Lift-the-Tab: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 50th Anniversary Edition. Bill Martin Jr. Holt, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-62779-723-8. $13.99

Why buy this version of Brown Bear…? I think this version will be perfect for children’s narrative skills (child participation.) Let’s face it --- when you ask children “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” you have to turn the page before children can answer that question (unless they already have the book memorized.) Now, you do not have to turn the page --- you simply point to the tab (red bird) and they can guess the answer before you turn the page. Granted, this is just a slightly larger board book size, so it might be better for one-on-one reading or for a small group, unless you have the funds to buy multiple copies and parents can share with their child in storytime while your read the book. On another note, because of the 50th anniversary, a new board book version has been released also. It is slightly larger than the original board book (which is great) but the cover is also padded. What a wonderful gift this would be for a baby! 

Website of the Month

Reading Rockets

Often library staff that are not children’s specialists will need to assist patrons/parents who have children and will be asked for reading tips for their young children. When training or sharing information with other staff members, you might want to recommend the excellent Reading Rockets website. If you are not familiar with Reading Rockets, you might want to spend a little time exploring their site as there is an incredible amount of useful information. Reading Rockets is described as “a national multimedia literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.”

The following links would be useful for ALL library staff to be aware of, but also the tips could be reproduced on bookmarks to hand out to parents or distribute at programs.  Most importantly the information is given in numerous languages including Spanish, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Korean, Navajo, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.  

Here are just a few tips under each age group.

A.  Reading Tips for Parents of Babies:  http://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-tips-parents-babies

A few of the recommended tips:

1. Keep books where your baby can reach them

2. Talk with your baby all day long

3. Develop a daily routine (and make reading a part of it)


B. Reading Tips for Parents of Toddlers: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-tips-parents-toddlers

1. Don’t expect your toddler to sit still for a book

2. Keep reading short, simple and often

3. Encourage play that involves naming, describing, and communicating


C. Reading Tips for Parents of Preschoolers: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-tips-parents-preschoolers

1. Read with fun in your voice

2. Talk about writing too

3. Point out print everywhere 



Justifying Early Literacy Training to Library Directors or Administrators

Just this month (December) I completed several days of training to librarians that were from various library systems in the state of Florida. On the first day, I stood dumbfounded when an attendee said that her library director reluctantly allowed her to attend my workshop because he felt early literacy training was not necessary. In his opinion, a child would be taught how to read and write when entering school and there was no reason to “teach” the child before arriving at school. For one of the first times in my life, I was speechless. This was a library director of a large public library system who made this comment. For the rest of the day, whenever I made a point, or quoted relevant research, I would find myself saying “You need to tell your library director this.” Just to be clear, I also agree that we do not “teach” a child any of the early literacy skills. The early literacy practices are natural things to do with children that will lay the important foundation so that a child will be able to learn to read easily when arriving at school.

Seriously though, if a library director feels this way, then it will be very difficult to center your programming for young children around early literacy practices. In this small space, it is difficult to list all the reasons why early literacy programming is important, but here are just a few statistics from research that might be useful.

1. “Roughly 35% of children in the United States enter school without the skills necessary for learning to read.” 

Carnegie Foundation of New York. Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children. Waldorf, MD: Carnegie Corp of NY, 1994. 

2. "Research shows the development of early literacy skills through early experiences with books and stories is critically linked to a child’s success in learning to read. Children who are read to from an early age have a larger vocabulary and better language skills when they start school. “

Contacts of Literacy: What Children Learn from Learning to Read Books in W. H. Teale Emergent Literacy: Writing and Reading, Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1986.

3. “Research shows that children with larger vocabularies have higher school achievement.”

 Duke, Neil and Annie Moses. 10 Research-Tested Ways to Build Children’s Vocabulary, Scholastic Professional Paper. Scholastic, 2003. 

4. “Children's phonological awareness begins to develop during the preschool years. Unless children are given help from teachers, parents, or other adults, those with low levels of phonological awareness will continue to be delayed in this skill from the late preschool period forward.”

Marilyn Adams. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.