What are some ways to help families who may have very low educational levels with book reading with their children at home?
I encourage families that don’t have a lot of books at home, do not have the means to buy a lot of books, or may have very limited book reading skills to go to the local library and take out books that come with an audio cassette or CD. Often libraries offer many of those types of books for young children. The parent can play the audio cassette or CD and sit with the child so they are getting that warm experience of having the child on his/her lap and listening to the story as they turn pages.
Some community centers and libraries have different programs to provide books to families. I have a ‘lending library’ that is available to my toddler group. Every child that is in the toddler group gets two or three books to take home each session. The books are placed in special nylon backpacks that the children get to sign out and take home until the following week. The books are clearly labeled with who they belong to and the parents know that these are the books that they will use with their child at home. Since this program is done with very, very young children all of the books are board books so that pages cannot be torn out very easily. Also the books usually have singe words on each page. I encourage the parents, if they can’t read, to just look at the picture, name what they see in the picture and use their language as best as they can.
Because I didn’t have much money to start up this program, I went to a local, independent book seller in my community and explained that I was starting up a toddler group that incorporates literacy but most of the children’s families cannot afford books. The book seller was willing to donate about 20 board books. Another option is to attend book drives where you can purchase used books that can then be lent out to children on your caseload.
Margot Kelman, PhD, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist in private practice and clinical supervisor at Wichita State University. Her interests are in early childhood speech, language, and literacy development. Dr. Kelman currently supervises the Toddler Emergent Language and Literacy Playgroup at Wichita State University.