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March 2, 2016

Instilling a Love of Literacy and Creating a Community of Readers

Contributed by Angela Frost, Cheektowaga Director Assistant

Schedules, assessments, transitions…a Doodle day is full of many different elements that keep teachers very busy; sometimes it can be overwhelming! Often times, we need our classrooms to be calm for a few moments so that we can all take a moment to regroup before moving onto the next activity. At times like this, it may be easy to tell our kiddos to have a seat and take out a book. While creating multiple opportunities for our children to get their hands on books is important, we need to be careful about the message we are sending about literacy to our students.

Henry Adams once said “A teacher effects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” The role that a teacher plays in a child’s life is one of great significance. In early childhood, children are developing an understanding of the world around them that will carry through to their lives in later childhood and even as adults! Children are receptive to every interaction that they have. As teachers, every interaction we have with books sends children a powerful message about literacy. We need to be mindful of how BIG of an impact we are having by the SMALL things we do each day.

In honor of National Read Across America Day, let’s reflect on the message we are sending to our children about books! The way that we talk about and interact with books in front of children will have a substantial impact on the way they view reading as a process.  It is very important that we are helping our children see themselves as readers and to view reading as an important and powerful tool that will open up a world of possibilities:

  • Read Aloud! : Every time you read a book aloud in your classroom, you are sending a reading pic 1
    positive message about literacy. Read alouds
    allow us to demonstrate important concepts of print such as directionality, word to word correspondence, and the fact that letters, words, and illustrations carry meaning.  Positive read aloud experience
    s not only model these important concepts, but also help children to see a book being used as a gateway to spark conversation and collaboration among peers. This helps create a sense of classroom community and builds upon the students’ positive repertoire with literacy. There’s nothing like bonding over a great book.
  • Create a book together.: Having their words be written
    down and able to be repeated again and again by differereading pic 2nt people
    (family members, other teachers, etc…) will help them to truly understand the power that books can have. Through writing, children’s voices can be heard!
  • Create a library of choices.: Providing children with a wide variety of books will allow them to be intrinsically motivated to pick up a book. A child who has a genuine interest in something, such as dump trucks, is likely to not only gravitate towards that selection, but to take away a positive experience from the interaction.  A print rich environment is invaluable!

reading pic 3

It is our job to help instill a positive emotional bond with literacy that will last throughout adulthood. Children who think of themselves as readers at any age are engaging in a world of imagination, creativity, and life-long learning.  Whether it is a toddler who is holding a book upside down or a pre-k student who has memorized the words to her favorite story, we must teach children to see themselves as readers and to view reading as a wonderful tool to lean about the world.


 “What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn.”

— Jim Trelease

Sarah Parks Duncan (2010) Instilling a Lifelong Love of Reading, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 46:2, 90-93