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Building a literate community

Throughout the school year, teachers and students work together to build a learning community where everyone shares in the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom. Here are some ways to think about involving parents, students and community members in helping to promote the importance of reading and writing within a community of learners. See if there are one or two ideas that you would be willing to try this year. Remember, any idea can be modified to fit your context and your students’ needs. Plus, you might have another idea of your own to add!

Involving parents

  • Ask parents to come in and bring any reading materials with them. These can be favorite books from childhood or adolescence, magazines they enjoy now, or a manual they use at work. Anything they read that they can use to explain some type of reading behavior to the children. Other school staff or local community members could also be used for this purpose.
  • Send home a survey with the children that asks questions about the reading and writing that takes place at home and/or at their parents’ work. Discuss these in class.
  • Brainstorm different reading and writing behaviors with the students. Then create a chart with these ideas and have the children tally those they see at home. This can be done for a week or a month.

Involving children

  • Have the students bring in their favorite books from when they were younger. Set aside time to have the children share the books and why they are special to them. If students do not have the book at home, they can borrow it from the library or draw the cover.

Involving community

  • Invite librarians or bookstore owners/employees to discuss their work and how they help people with books and other reading materials.
  • Invite local authors to talk about their writing process. These do not need to be nationally published authors, just anyone who writes for personal reasons or who has been published in a local paper, magazine, etc.
  • Have the students brainstorm questions to ask these visitors and ways to record and use the information they hear.

    Key words: community, parents, reading, literacy