The second edition of Every Child Ready to Read is coming next month – at long last!
Our library system adapted the first version several years ago, and it radically changed the way we think about and present storytimes and outreach to parents and caregivers. Though we struggled with the terminology (it took weeks for me to say “phonological awareness” with carefree ease), and it took lots of practice to slip all those messages and tips about the 6 skills into our storytimes and workshops in a natural way, it has now become second-nature. We finally internalized the 6 skills!
But it bothered me that there was so much emphasis on those skills, when it seemed to me that the most important message was “Read to your kids, because it’s the best way to prepare them for school and reading – plus, it’s fun!” And research tells us that talking, playing, and singing with kids is also vitally important in getting them ready for school as well. Although parents who already do all those things found the information about the early literacy skills helpful, it often seemed to muddy the waters when we were talking to parents who just need to know that very simple things like reading and talking can make a world of difference to their child’s future success.
So when I heard last summer that ECRR2 would address these issues by simplifying the message, I was ecstatic! We were promised the new product for September 2010 – and then after Midwinter 2011 – and now it looks like June 2011 is a sure thing. Better late than never, though I would have loved to have those new materials when over 20 adult librarians in our library system became children’s librarians this past January. Whew!
The ECRR2 webinar gave us a sneak peak last month into the new product (check out the archive). There it was! Instead of the 6 skills being front and center, the emphasis is now on the 5 simple and fun things parents can do to get their children ready for school:
Reading! Talking! Singing! Playing! Writing!
There was a bit of dismay in ALSC listserv and other forums after the webinar was held, as folks felt that they had invested all sorts of time and resources into the old ECRR model, only to have it tossed aside. But those early literacy skills are still there in the new version – only we come at them from a different slant.
Rather than saying to parents and caregivers, “Here are the vital skills that your child must have in order to learn to read – and here is how your child can learn them,” we are now saying, “Here are 5 simple, fun things you can do with your child – and here is how they will help your child get ready for reading.” The skills are still there, but we’re showing that they are the happy side-effect of those 5 kinds of activities.
It’s a very empowering message for parents. Rather than making them feel inadequate because they had never heard of “print awareness,” we are demonstrating to parents that the things they already do with their children are tremendously valuable and important. And we explain why. And then we provide tips and recommendations to make reading, talking, playing, singing, and writing with their children even more fun and easy.
ECRR2 will provide us with an improved tool to get the message about early literacy out into our communities.
I’m counting the days!