Creating a Love of Reading – It’s Elementary, my dear!

Barb Holden, Principal, A.E. Bowers Elementary School – Each year, I enjoy meeting and speaking with our new Kindergarten children and their families. The first year in formal schooling remains an important milestone for every child and family.

It's exciting to imagine the possibilities for each child on the precipice of this journey – parents and grandparents alike are keen to encourage the children. We have a shared desire to optimize the love of learning and success for every child.

We appreciate the partnership of parents as we nurture and celebrate student Literacy together!

In Rocky View Schools, students are literate – by design. The RVS Literacy Framework represents a balanced approach to Literacy and emphasizes the need for students to engage in Literacy learning through the day and across environments – at school and at home.

Teachers support achievement by encouraging students to read at home and provide materials from the school ensuring access to a variety of books – at different levels and on different topics. Teachers celebrate family engagement in reading with and to their children. They often see that celebrating family engagement in reading goes hand in hand with celebrating student progress observed during Guided Reading lessons. Voracious reading of ‘good fit books’ is encouraged in our classrooms!

Reading is central to learning. Students learn to read by reading, and it’s important to set each child up for success.

A strong community partner, The Airdrie Public Library connects often with our schools to complement and support the development of readers in our community offering materials and programs that incite students to read, read, read!

The need to make time and space for students to read both at home and at school is clear.

Did you also know? Reading to students at home, as well as school, is key.

It’s true – reading to students at home is not ‘cheating’…it’s required for optimal achievement.

Anytime is a great time to re-commit to reading to our children – for as long as they will let us.

Why is reading to children so important?

  • Reading to children allows them to focus on the meaning – on understanding print material.
  • Reading to children encourages the development of imagination – critical and creative thinking.
  • Reading to children is a great 'together' activity…it's about making memories!
  • Reading to children shows them what good readers do – as they develop their own skill sets.
  • Reading to children provides them with a safe space to explore complicated topics.
  • Reading to children gives them access to books that would otherwise be too difficult for them.

(Burkins and Yaris. pp 34 - 36)

With busy lives, how do families fit this in? 

  • Listening to the author read a favourite – or new – book is a great treat!

    Parents will enjoy hearing stories read aloud before dinner – just as the kids will. School resources are available to students at home through Tumble Books, for example. Through Tumble Books, parents model the enjoyment of listening to reading and encourage students to engage with many different genres for a wider range of reading. Our dual track school is very appreciative of the French language titles allowing parents to learn correct pronunciations alongside the students – for that little something extra!

    The Airdrie Public Library is also a great resource for digital read-alouds, audiobooks and other media-rich resources.
  • Reading together on the couch encourages emerging readers.

    It’s a bit trickier – but after supper, consider turning off the TV and reading a book. With students just beginning to enjoy chapter books, look to discover the next captivating book series. Sometimes, the strategy of ‘you read a paragraph – I read a paragraph’ is the just right support for tackling a great story and supporting a new reader. The school Learning Commons offers many ideas for some really interesting chapter books to read aloud at home!
  • Bedtime stories are the perfect together activity to end a busy day!

    Evening routines are ideal for sharing a good book together. A good book can make an evening routine something to look forward to – although it will often make your evenings just a little bit longer! I know this after enjoying books at bedtime with my own sons. My husband and I – almost 30 years later – can both recite 'Peep's Bath' from memory – and the illustrations from Mrs. Wishy Washy still warm my heart.

From simple picture books to chapter books like 'Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,' we've enjoyed reading – laughing – and reading again. Together, we have built a bridge to reading with my sons – a bridge through which they were able to discover genres they still enjoy as adults and to explore their own interests and passions – the same interests and passions they now share with their own children.

If you choose one family goal this year, let reading with and to your children be that goal. There is possibly no better way to support your child’s growth, development and academic achievement in elementary school.

Happy reading!

Reference: Burkins, J., Yaris, K. (2016). Who's Doing the Work? Maine: Stenhouse Publishers. p. 34 - 36.

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