As educators, we all know the power of placing a book into the hands of a child and watching them sparkle with delight as they crack the spine for the very first time. There is nothing more rewarding. For those children in our personal lives, we’ve gladly given them books for birthdays, Easter, Christmas and “just because”. But for many of the children who we support in our schools, home libraries are a luxury that many families can not afford.
This year, one of the initiatives that our Literacy Coordinators are involved with includes supporting a select number of students in 10 of our most needy schools. We are working with entire school teams to enhance teacher capacity in the area of supporting struggling readers, scaffolding the learning that is happening in terms of guided reading instruction and assessment strategies and supporting the discussions that are taking place at School Literacy Team meetings, where a full school approach to knowing, supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of these students is at the forefront of what is happening.
In the summer, children were given the opportunity to choose a handful of books to have for their very own as well as pictures books for others in their lives to share with them. Parents were provided with suggestions and strategies to support home reading programs and they expressed their gratitude for the gifts.
We are now in the process of repeating the book celebration and providing those same students with more books to add to their home libraries.
School teams have planned wonderful celebrations to celebrate the gains that these students have already made in their reading ability. They are celebrating the wonderful teachers who have taken on this challenge of reflecting on their practice and exploring new strategies to meet the needs of all of their students. Parents are being celebrating for supporting home reading programs.
Today, a number of the involved teachers forwarded pictures to our team. The students were smiling with pride and gratitude. Parents were gracious and thankful. Teachers were beaming with pride, knowing that they have made a difference.
We will all sleep well tonight knowing that we’ve placed one of the greatest gifts into the hands of some very deserving children and that the intangible gift of a school’s “love and dedication” will continue to encompass these “babies” as they gain more and more confidence in their abilities and see themselves as capable readers.