Thinking back, do you remember your first childhood book? Maybe your parents read “The Little Poky Puppy” from The Golden Books or, like Immaculata student Isabelle Davis, it was “Pete’s Dragon,” brought to life by her mother’s lively theatrics. Of course, who can forget the colorful characters of Winnie the Pooh? Younger generations are enjoying popular titles such as Neil Gaiman’s “Coroline” and “The Wolf Wilder” by Katherine Rundell.
Certainly, we can all agree that books are a given as the foundation of learning in our most developmental years. However, for some children that is not the reality.
Kelly Doyle, Ed.D., assistant professor of education at Immaculata, has been a member of the Keystone State Literacy Association (KSLA)–Delaware Valley for 30 years and currently serves as vice president. Upon announcement of a service project with the goal of collecting and delivering books to children and parents in homeless shelters, Dr. Doyle immediately knew how to respond.
Immaculata PK-4 students in Dr. Doyle’s Fundamentals of Reading course created flyers focusing on the importance of promoting early literacy and provided helpful tips for reading to children. Two of the flyers were selected to be distributed to families at two homeless shelters in Delaware County. Members of the KSLA—Delaware Valley are coordinating the distribution of the books and Dr. Doyle hopes to reach 30 or more families living in these shelters.
Student Erin Kelly notes that it is important to read to children in shelters because they may not be attending school or may not be receiving the level of support needed. However, beyond the literacy factor, there are other benefits. For Erin, the top reason for reading to children is to stimulate imagination at a young age. “By developing their imagination, it leads to greater creativity as children use the ideas in their heads to inform their works,” she points out.
Isabelle agrees that reading to children in homeless shelters is extremely important as it serves as an escape for them and helps them keep up with their reading development.
The students in Dr. Doyle’s class learned different ways parents can engage with their children while reading—the fun stuff! They included these tips in their flyers: using funny voices to act out the story; planning activities that continue the story, pointing to the words while reading aloud and creating a reading corner with pillows, blankets and lots of different books. Another tool to increase literacy is to play educational board games such as Scrabble, Boggle and Word Stax.
Even knowing the benefits of reading to your children at a young age, parents may be especially encouraged to know that it cultivates a lifelong love of reading and helps develop a special bond with your child.
“The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read” – Mary McCleod Bethunem, an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian.