Connecting parenting and literacy
Being a good parent is one of the toughest challenges that many of us face. For the mothers and fathers participating in Motheread/Fatheread the Wisconsin Humanities Council's family literacy program, the desire to be a good parent is both a challenge and a powerful source of motivation. The genius of the Motheread/Fatheread program is that it introduces motivated parents to books in a way that helps them meet the challenges of parenting while simultaneously improving their literacy skills.
How many parents have encountered the situation described by one teenaged mother at a recent Motheread/Fatheread class who said, "Sometimes [my daughter] wants to try on six different outfits in the morning. She loves dressing up. Sometimes when we're late for school, she still wants to try on another outfit!" What would Ferdinand's mother do? (Ferdinand the bull, that is.) As the class just learned from reading "The Story of Ferdinand," Ferdinand's mother had an interesting time raising her unconventional child, a bull who prefers sitting quietly under a tree to butting heads with the other young bulls.
In a Motheread/Fatheread class like this one, discussion moves fluidly back and forth between analysis of the many messages in the book and students' experiences and values. Through this discussion, the richness of books and stories is revealed. Conversations about difficult parenting issues become possible because they are rooted in a story that is not -- yet is so like -- one's own.
Writing exercises and other activities that flow directly from a particular book enable parents to strengthen specific literacy skills. The experience of reading and discussing a book with each other prepares parents to read and talk about that same book with their children.
For more information on the Wisconsin Humanities Council's Motheread/Fatheread program and upcoming training opportunities, contact Dena Wortzel at 608-262-0706 or visit the Wisconsin Humanities Council's Web site.
Wisconsin Public Television's literacy effort, Book Worms, is a collaboration with the Wisconsin Association for Home & Community Education, UW-Extension Cooperative Family Living Programs and Head Start agencies in 43 counties. This program provides free books, activities and reading "buddies" to thousands of kids who wouldn't otherwise have book of their own, and is coordinated by Wisconsin Public Television's Outreach Department.
For more information, e-mail Wisconsin PBS Kids.