The McKay School of Education is collaborating with the Harold B. Lee Library in a joint family literacy project this year. The words contained in the sixth chapter of the Book of Moses are the guiding force behind the current project: “And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled.”
The joint initiative, funded through the generosity of donors, is essentially a collection of student-run projects brought together through faculty mentors to promote literacy and reading in family settings and to encourage lifelong learning. “It’s a clearing house of sorts,” adds Tim Morrison of the Department of Teacher Education Department, who has been working extensively with the HBLL to coordinate the initiative. “It is mainly a highlight of several ongoing student projects.”
One of the projects making a difference in lives of children is Conexiones, a unique program that sends Spanish-speaking volunteers to local Hispanic households to help children immerse themselves in good books and strengthen English reading skills. In its third semester, the program is already having a substantial impact. Grades of young students are noticeably higher and self-confidence is growing. “The parents of these kids love it,” observes Brad Wilcox of the Department of Teacher Education, who has been helping run the program. “The volunteers do as well.”
Christian Peña, a BYU student, started Conexiones last fall in hopes of giving returned missionaries a chance to keep their Spanish skills sharp while giving service to the community. Non-Spanish-speaking students can also volunteer. “We don’t even necessarily teach reading,” says Peña. “We help these children enjoy books and start getting in the habit of reading for themselves.” Wilcox adds, “With this program, we are truly relying on the power of books and the power of reading to strengthen the literary development of these children.”
Other projects going on through the family literacy initiative include research into early childhood literacy teaching practices, and a book kit project that ties the fun of reading stories into other subject areas like math. A short video overview of each project can be seen below. Projects like these are fulfilling the goals of both the HBLL and McKay School to instill in children not only literary competency, but also a love for reading that will stay with them their entire lives.
In addition to the student-run projects, the HBLL maintains a Web site for the family literacy initiative as a resource of quick and useful information for busy parents wanting to implement effective literary practices in the home with their children. The site, Families & Literacy, is a forum for discussion; a Q & A resource; a collection of video book reviews, along with prominent author interviews and readings; and a compilation of practical tips and suggestions for parents teaching literacy to their children. Resource materials to support parents wishing to implement the concepts in the student-run projects are also available on the site under the KBYU tab.
7 December 2009