Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Children and their Literacy Blanket

By Donna Klockars
Last week we listened and watched our young readers while they interacted with books of their choice.  We let the kids choose from some of their favourite read-alouds and we also provided a nice spread of books with lots of different topics that they had not seen before. We were delighted to see the joyful ways that the children approached this special time with books.
Early literacy events should be all about feeling warm and cozy and special.  Dear Reader, I love to talk about early literacy learning and how it starts long before we greet your child at the day care, pre-school or kindergarten door. It begins when your child is comfortably nestled in the in the crook of your arm, while sharing a book.  This precious book time is really all about the young reader knowing you care and that together you have lots of things to talk about.  
I like to think early literacy and feeling special, should always go together.  It is you, caring parent, grandmother, auntie, uncle, or loving friend of the family who must start the process of weaving a precious “Literacy Blanket”.  The Coast Salish weavers use many strands to create a blanket that is strong, unique and functional.  I would like to invite you to create a “Literacy Blanket” that you can create for your child.  Like the Salish Blanket, the Literacy Blanket  is  made up of foundational strands.  The first and most important strand is the relationship strand. 

 Every Child Needs a Literacy Blanket
Step One: The Literacy Relationship Strand:
No literacy program exists that replaces caring literacy mentors in a child’s life.  The relationship fostered between book, child and caring adult leads to children reading for the sheer joy of it.  Most importantly; it prevents reading failure. Our most practical and effective opportunity for creating self-motivated independent readers is to read to children every day.
Parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, elders, family friends and community members act as literacy mentors for our young readers.  We know that starting out right is important.  Children begin their literacy journey while they are still very young. Parents and other literacy mentors help children develop language and literacy skills by taking the time to have conversations with children and provide a sense of coziness and safety when they read aloud. They search for books that are of interest to the child.  They cherish and celebrate established favourite stories and are playful when it comes to enjoying the rhythm and rhymes. They find books that are visually pleasing and culturally relevant.  They allow lots of time for “grand conversations” that naturally bubble up from the reading experience.  They playfully point out letters on street signs and make a big fuss about how special their name looks in print.  
The vehicle for fostering and nourishing this important relationship is the Read-a-Loud.  Before a child can have an interest in reading, he must first have an awareness of it.  Caring adults make sure children are bathed in the riches of literature. This is how the legacy of literacy is passed on.  Our most practical and effective opportunity for creating self-motivated independent readers is to read to children every day. We always say “three books a day; that’s the minimum, not the maximum!”  Together we can weave this important Literacy Blanket.  When a child is wrapped in his or her own unique literacy blanket, he will grow up to love reading and learning.

This Wednesday we will return to our Three Stories a Day.  I will be bringing Elder Ray Peter’s, “Raven and Eagle”, story, and our visiting elder, Stella Johnson will add some of her favourite books.  Melanie and I will follow up with play-based small group activities that build and connect with the stories.  We will also provide some fun “Putting Pencil to Paper” activities that will help the children hold a pencil,  begin to write one’s name and to make simple pictures.
Hope you can join us at the Boys and Girls Club this Wednesday morning.

In friendship,
Donna Klockars, aka The Literacy Lady

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