CLiF knows that parents have a tremendous influence on the likelihood that their child will grow up a strong reader and writer. That’s why we strive to include parents whenever possible in our programs.
In all of CLiF’s Year of the Book schools, for example, parents are asked to sign a Read to Me contract agreeing to read with their child at least twice a week all year long. If 80% of the parents in a school sign the contract, CLiF funds a celebratory Family Literacy night with food and activities.
This Wednesday night, I visited Johnson, VT where almost 50 parents and their children attend one such event at the Johnson Elementary School.
While kids played in the gym the parents joined me in the school library where I gave a 40-minute interactive seminar on the vital importance of reading with children on a regular basis, the impact reading has on a child’s development, and ways to make reading with a child fun and easy even if a parent isn’t a strong reader. The parents were enthusiastic, asked lots of great questions and made many thoughtful observations.
When the seminar was over parents were able to select two new books for each of their children from hundreds of titles CLiF had provided. Volunteers wrapped books on the spot, giving parents to get an extra jump on holiday gifts, and providing the books with that extra spark of excitement that children naturally assign to a beautifully wrapped gift.
After the wrapping was complete, everyone enjoyed a dinner CLiF provided, and then I wrapped up the evening by gathering all the children together and telling them a story.
Johnson’s principal David Manning was delighted: “I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this event. There were parents in attendance who had children in all eight grades at JES, from pre-school to Grade 8. I was very impressed with the level of engagement of the parents to the materials Duncan presented… They were thrilled to be able to obtain new books for their children. We were truly able to reach members of the community who will be able to benefit from the reading strategies and the free books. Thank you so much for making our event tonight a huge success.“
CLiF held similar Parent Literacy events during the previous week in Pittsfield, NH, and Berlin, NH. One mother in Berlin was overheard telling the school principal: “This was the best event we’ve ever had at the school. Let’s do it again!”
That’s music to our ears.