Read2Me’s kick-off event, held Saturday at the Macon County Library, gave parents tips on reading to their children, and provided each child with a book. Read2Me is a literacy campaign geared to encouraging parents to read with their children early and often.
The Western Mountain Reading Council (WMRC) teamed up with Read2Me to sponsor “Read and Ride” to host parent training and distribute books for pre-school aged children. The Cowee Fire Department volunteered a fire truck and let children climb up in the driver’s seat and turn on the sirens. Children were also able to see inside of a Franklin Police Department patrol car and ask officers questions about how the vehicle works. Because the event was geared toward pre-school aged children, Macon County Schools volunteered a big yellow school bus to help kids become familiar with the vehicle before having to ride one when they reach elementary school. Bill and Sherry Ashe provided a semi truck for children to climb up in and even let them sound the horn. One of the highlights of the day was the scooter bikes provided by South Macon School and the ATV and motocycle provided by Vern and Jean Davis.
After playing on the various vehicles and having snacks which were donated by BiLo, more than 70 children gathered in rooms throughout the library for story time. “Children listened to stories read by WMRC member Carolyn Cope with Ralph the Reading Wonder Dog,” said Diane Cotton, member of the WMRC and Read2Me. Children played with Ralph, who is a trained therapy dog owned by Holly Lawrence. After story time, children colored a mural provided by the Macon County librarians, and received a free book from the Read2Me committee.
“I want to give a huge thank you to Macon County Library and Macon Early College for providing the space,” said Cotton. “Thanks to everyone who brought a vehicle, Western Mountain Reading Council for all their work in planning and training and providing the parent materials, Girl Scouts for collecting the books, Macon County Schools and BiLo for providing snacks, and the Read2Me Committee.”
While the children were in story time, parents were divided up in to groups to learn a technique called CARS. WMRC members Bonnie Candalino, Susie Wooleslagle, Sharon Velton, Denise West, Lori Long, Darlene Fromknecht and an MPP teacher Sierra Ensley provided the training. Parents received an Activity Guide explaining fun activities they could do to boost their child’s vocabulary, listening skills, and print awareness.
The training that parents received was based around the idea that language is the key to learning. CAR teaches adults to use three simple strategies that encourage young children to talk. CAR is a simple way for adults to remember the three strategies.
C stands for Comment and wait.
A stands for Ask questions and wait.
R stands for Respond by adding a little more.
'Language is the Key” uses “Follow the child’s lead” as the overarching approach for early literacy and language facilitation. Children are more likely to talk about what they are interested in. During the training session, parents were taught to respond to the child's interest when commenting, asking questions, or responding by adding more.
‘C’- Comment and Wait
Modeling language by making comments that reflect the child’s focus of interest is a universally recommended practice in language facilitation models. Describing pictures in books or what the child is doing during play, then pausing to allow time for a response, is an effective way to elicit language. Children need time to think and code their thoughts into language, so it is important for adults to give children at least 5 seconds to respond after they make a comment or ask a question. A longer waittime also lets the child know the adult is interested in what the child has to say.
‘A’- Ask Questions and Wait
Adults use two major types of questions to encourage children to talk or respond: open-ended and closed questions. Closed questions are those questions that require a yes-no answer, a pointing response, or a oneor two-word label. Asking a child, “What do you see?” “Can you point to the cat?” or “What color is the alligator?” are examples of closed questions.
Open-ended questions generally require a more complex linguistic response and may require additional “thinking time” on the part of the child to formulate their response.
Open-ended questions tend to elicit full sentences or even several sentences. “What is the chicken doing?” “What’s going to happen next?”, or “Why did the girl need a new bicycle?” are examples of open-ended questions.
‘R’ - Respond by adding a little more
Expansion of the child’s utterances is a basic tool in language facilitation. The adult repeats what the child says and then expands the utterance with one or two new words. This allows the child to contrast her utterance with the adult’s expansion and also hear the next level of difficulty for language production. For example, if the child says “ball,” the adult says “ball, big ball.” This reinforces the child's speaking, gives her the support for the next level of complexity and provides new information.
Repeat again in Spanish, Korean, etc. “Repeat again in the home language,” is a strategy for families who speak a language other than English at home. Children who are learning two languages simultaneously frequently mix the two languages.
In addition to the parent training, story time, and the fun vehicles, librarians were on hand to answer questions from parents and help both parents and children become familiar with the library. By the end of the day, five parents had signed up for a library card to continue bringing their children to the library.
“My favorite event of the day was watching as a mother came into the library with her three children,” said Cotton. “As they walked past me toward the children’s area, one of the children who looked to be about three years old, looked around in awe and whispered, ‘Wow, Mom, is this a library?’”
The Read2Me campaign is a community effort aimed toward promoting early literacy in preschool aged children by educating parents and providing books for children. Read2me encourages the community at large to become highly invested in promoting children learning to read early in order to help all children realize their potential in school and in life.
While “Read and Ride” served as the official kickoff event of the community- wide initiative, so far this year the Read2Me committee has been working to promote public awareness of the initiative. The next Read2Me event will be held in conjunction with Macon County Schools’ annual Literacy Night.
On May 17, Literacy Night will kick off at Mountain View Intermediate at 6 p.m. with a special meet and greet with North Carolina author, Gloria Houston. Houston joined the Read2Me effort by teaming up with Macon County’s free independent newspaper, The Macon County News, to serialize her book, “LittleJim.” Dr. Gloria Houston is internationally known as an educator and author of multi-award winning, best selling books for young readers, as well as a writer of textbook and other teaching materials. As an advocate of early literacy, Houston was thrilled to work with Read2Me and The Macon County News to serialize her book to provide free and easy access for Macon County children.
Houston will be the guest speaker at Literacy Night and will be signing free copies of “LittleJim,” which are being provided by Franklin’s Rotary Club.