By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education
Research has shown that a key to developing language skills, for the native speaker and for the English language learner, is reading. A home filled with books is a home filled with readers. That was certainly the case in my experience. My first “literacy” memories are the favorite stories that my father, very patiently, told me over and over and over. One of my earliest “reading” memories is going to the library with him and selecting my own book to read, Horton Hears a Who. Of course, I couldn’t read it myself, but it was “my” book. As I became a reader, I started acquiring books, some of them through a children’s book club. I remember how excited I was when “my” book arrived in the mail.
Susan Frey, in “Study Says Reading Aloud to Children, More Than Talking, Builds Literacy” (EdSource, 8 July 2015), focuses on a research project by Dominic Massaro at the University of California. Massaro says that “[r]eading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding” because the written word tends to follow these conventions more closely than speech. He goes on to say that we tend to be lazy when we speak using simplified forms and vocabulary.
Then, in “Making Reading Your Own” (Language Magazine, Sep. 2015), Todd Brekhus makes the point about the importance of “making literacy more personal to kids.” For the 21st century reader, he encourages the development of a digital library. He points out that one advantage of a digital library is the technological tools that are not available with hard-copy books, including opportunities for collaboration. He supports the use of interactive digital texts with English Language Learners, which can build literacy skills and reader confidence.
How do you use books and digital texts with your students, or even your children?