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CASLL-L  February 1995

CASLL-L February 1995

Subject:

Re: definition of literacy

From:

Anne Hunt <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 10 Feb 1995 17:15:54 GMT-400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (89 lines)

Marcy wrote -
  I've been waiting forAnne Hunt to talk about the book exchange she
got going in her kindergarten last year, but if she won't tell, I
will . . . I may have the details wrong, so Anne, correct me if I do.
But as I understand it, the kids in her class took books home to read
with their parents (more likely, to have their parents read to them.)
Accompanying each book was a notebook in which parent & child were to
write their reactions to the book -- basically tell what they did or
didn't like about it.  These notbeook entries then went home with the
next kid who took the book home.  So parents & kids not only got to
read the books, they got to read what other people thought about it,
too.
> I think that activity promotes about a zillion different things having to
> do with literacy.  It gets the parents and children thinking and talking
> about the book they just read; it gets people writing; it embeds the
> reading of the next book into several ongoing conversations (the one
> between each parent and child as they think about how _this_ book
> compares with the last one, and the one between the people in the class
> who've read this book, to name two); and it dramatizes the fact that
> reading, writing, and having opinions about books is something
> _everybody_ can do & is entitled to do.  I thought it was a terrific
> idea.  I keep trying to figure out ways to suggest it to my daughter's
> kindergarten teacher.
>
> So, Anne, how did it work out in practice?
>
>   I really wish that I could send you the 'real' stuff.  The
journals are colourful in a very deep sense of that word.  There are
wonderful drawings, sometimes by the kids in my class and sometimes
by other people in the house.  There are written responses in crayon,
pencil, ink and in print and script.  There are photos that families
pasted in the journal after reading  a book that brought back memories
for them.  There is a note of thanks from an older sibling who used
one particular nonfiction book about the making of crayons to write a
report for her grade five class. There are wonderful accounts from
parents who didn't know their child could read and there are
wonderful accounts from children who proudly announced that they had
read to their little brother or sister.  There is a poem that one
family made up after reading a story about a train.
    During the time, April through June, last year I finally had my
first contact with one father who was struggling to bring up his two
daughters on his own.  He had never come to school for conferences,
and was frequently not reachable by phone.  He and his daughter
responded to the books regularly writing things like "Connie Dawn and
I liked this book.  We had fun with the songs."  "Connie Dawn just got
carryed away with the storey book and the drawing.  She liked
it."Their responses were always illustrated with bright crayon
drawings.
    I was worried about some of the parents being critical of the
responses of others.  I had some parents who were unable to read or
write well.  I had one mom who had gone back to school when her son
started kindergarten so that she could become more literate.  I also
had professionals for whom writing was a daily activity.  I
planned to respond too, reading each journal and writing in it
before it went out to another family.  I figured I could model a
reasonable response, but, hey, this was NO PROBLEM.  I immediately
became part of the conversation.
    Yes it was successful.  I think, successful beyond my wildest . .
but I also think I really didn't have any preconceived curricular
notions about this experience.  I just got it started and watched to
see what would happen.  I really didn't see it as "promoting
literacy." I was thinking more about another way of bringing us all
together, homes and school, so that we would have one more thing in
common.  When you teach young children common ground is the solid
place you start from.
 
Anne Hunt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anne Hunt
Early Childhood Centre
University of New Brunswick

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