Quick Guide: How to Effectively Promote Literacy in the New Year
We know that everyone is busy. With family, school, work and community responsibilities, invariably many things are sometimes moved to a "back burner." In the New Year, we all too often make plans or resolutions to re-address those back-burner items on our lists and follow through with their completion. What about your plans for more and better literacy in the New Year? Have they been placed on a back burner in recent years because of other duties? Has there been just too much to read or has screen time taken over in your life and that of your family?
Well, this can be the year to change all that---not only for your own personal literacy, but also for your family's literacy as well as literacy in your school, your workplace and in your community. We can show you how, too, with some relatively easy tips to make it happen. Happy Reading AND Happy New Year to everyone!
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Home
1. Read to Them Daily! It’s never too early to read aloud to your child. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to children in infancy! This special time actually promotes healthy brain development and serves to bond parent and child closer together.
2. Read in Front of Them, too. – If parents “practice what they preach” about the importance of reading, it sends a loud and clear message to their kids that reading is, in fact, valuable.
3. Create Space for Reading and Writing. One way parents can make literacy appealing to children is by providing an inviting place to read and write. A desk with pens, pencils, markers and paper nearby will encourage your little one to hone his writing skills. A small bookshelf filled with books, with a comfy beanbag close by, will promote reading.
4. Take Advantage of Windows of Opportunity. Parents should look for natural opportunities throughout the day to support literacy development. Have your kiddo write the shopping list for you, read the traffic signs as you drive, and name all the things in the kitchen that start with the letter R.
5. Be Involved with Your Child's Homework. If your little one is school-age, then be available to help with homework. Children often feel overwhelmed and unsure about their assignments. Your presence can help to alleviate their anxiety as well as remind them that you place a high value on their education.
For MORE Literacy Tips for Your Home, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your School
1. Set aside time for independent reading. Time for reading independently doesn’t just happen. Plan for it by making it a priority in schedules across K-12 classrooms. You may need to get creative by stealing minutes here and there, but find at least 15 minutes a day (20 recommended) for self-selecting, independent reading.
2. Create Literacy-Rich Environments in every K-12 Classroom. A literacy-rich environment – full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials – not only supports the Common Core standards, but also provides a setting that encourages and supports speaking, listening, reading, and writing in a variety of authentic ways – through print & digital media. Make it a priority for every K-12 classroom to be an inviting, print-rich environment that supports independent reading and student learning.
3. Support High-Quality Classroom Libraries. Students need access to interesting books and materials – both in print and online. When students are provided with well-designed classroom libraries, they interact more with books, spend more time reading, exhibit more positive attitudes toward reading, and exhibit higher levels of reading achievement (NAEP, 2002). Additionally, research-based classroom libraries support balanced literacy instruction. Support teachers in building classroom libraries through budget dollars, grants, and book drives.
4. Encourage Read Alouds. In the Becoming a Nation of Readers report (1985), experts reported that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Not only did the experts suggest reading aloud in the home, but they also suggested reading aloud in schools. Read alouds not only allow teachers to model that reading is a great way to spend time, but also exposes students to more complex vocabulary than they typically hear or read. Remember to read to older students, too. Occasionally reading more difficult text aloud provides opportunity for rich discussion and vocabulary development.
5. Create a “Caught Reading” Campaign that features Teachers as Readers. Creating a school-wide reading culture is important to promote reading as a lifestyle. Students need to see their teachers as readers. Create posters of teachers and staff reading their favorite books and display them in hallways throughout the schools. You can also produce bookmarks that feature teacher’s favorite book picks to help guide students as they select books for independent reading.
For MORE Literacy Tips for School, click here.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Workplace
1. Start a Book Basket in Your Office. If you do not have a basket you can use a box or bin instead. Make sure you place it in a high traffic area, such as the mail room, the lunch area, or where everyone signs in and out. The idea is that these books are easily accessible by any colleague in order to promote leisurely reading. Bring a few books that are laying around your house that you have already read and donate them to your workplace. Everyone can take a book as long as they promise to bring at least one back to share. When the book has been read, it should be brought back so someone else can enjoy. This will also hopefully inspire some collaboration and discussion about the books.
2. Write a Weekly Reflection or Newsletter. Writing is a great way to reflect on what has happened and can help you plan out for the days or weeks to come. It also provides a sense of accomplishment once you realize all the things have been completed. This is also a great vehicle for mention of a favorite book or article read by you or a co-worker. It can keep everyone at work in the literacy loop!
3. Practice Reading or Writing Yoga. Read or write silently for at least ten minutes per day. You can easily turn your workplace into a relaxing yoga studio by dimming the lights or adding party or holiday lights. Turn on a wax burner or oil diffuser to stimulate your nostrils (as per office or workplace policies, of course). Play some instrumental music to set the tone and perhaps bring a rug, beanbag, or pillows to allow you to get more comfortable. You can even brew some hot tea or make some hot chocolate to stimulate your taste buds, too! This environment will really help relax all your senses and provide somewhat of a mental break from the stress and workload that you may be faced with each day. Try it out! You and your colleagues will be amazed on how energized and relaxed you will feel afterwards.
4. Write a Thank You Note. Many times we get caught up with work that we forgot to thank those around us. We take for granted those people that mean the most to us and those whose work goes unnoticed. Take a few minuets to write a small thank you note to someone that you work with that has done something for you or that rarely gets noticed for their hard work (the janitors, cafeteria ladies, security guards, and secretaries are a great place to start). I guarantee this small act of kindness will mean the world to whomever you deliver it to. Let them know that you care and you are grateful to work alongside them.
5. Create a Book Club in Your Office. Get a group of colleagues to commit to read a book that everyone agrees upon and set weekly or monthly expectations for what should be read. Try to meet over breakfast, lunch, or happy hour to discuss. If everyone is crunched for time, you can start a slow twitter chat and pose questions to each other regarding the book.
6. Start a Gratitude Jar. Take some time to write down what you are thankful for on some Post-It Notes. Keep them in a plastic or glass jar and place it near your computer or someplace in your office were it is easily noticeable as a daily reminder to constantly write and add to our growing gratitude jar.
Tips to Help Promote Literacy in Your Community
1. Educate Yourself and Others by Researching Literacy Websites. Start by researching some of the online resources available to you and then share them on social media or anywhere else you think they will help. Some are comprehensive directories that can help you identify help in your own community.
2. Volunteer at Your Local Literacy Council. Your local literacy council is there to help adults learn to read, do math, learn a new language, anything literacy and numeracy related. They can also help children keep up with reading in school. Staff members are trained and reliable. Participate by becoming a volunteer or by explaining the services to someone you know who might benefit from them.
3. Find Your Local Adult Education Classes for Someone Who Needs Them. Your literacy council and/or your local community college will have information about adult education classes in your area. If not, simply search online or ask at your local library. If your own county doesn't offer adult education classes, which would be surprising, check the next closest county, or contact your state education department. Every state has one.
4. Ask for Reading Primers at Your Local Library. Your local county library has resources available and can recommend special books to assist you in helping a friend learn to read. Books on beginning readers are sometimes called primers (pronounced primmer). Some are designed especially for adults to avoid the embarrassment of having to learn by reading children's books. Learn about all of the resources available to you. The library is always an excellent place to start.
5. Hire a Private Tutor for a Challenged Reader. Give the gift of reading to someone who needs it. It can be very embarrassing for an adult to admit that he or she cannot read or work simple calculations. If the thought of attending adult education classes freaks someone out, private tutors are always available. Your literacy council or library are probably your best places to find a trained tutor who will respect the student's privacy and anonymity. What a wonderful gift to give someone who won't otherwise seek help.
10 Tips to Promote Literacy at Home by Jennifer Campbell, Red Apple Reading Blog
25 Ways Schools Can Promote Literacy And Independent Reading by TeachThought
Promoting Literacy in the Workplace posted by Alejandra Guzman, High Five Science
5 Ways to Improve Adult Literacy by ThoughtCo.