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Early Child Development and Care
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An Evaluation of Family Literacy Bags as a Vehicle for Parent Involvement

Martha Dever a; Diane Burts b a Department of Elementary Education, 2805 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 84322-2805. b School of Human Ecology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803. Online Publication Date: 01 August 2002 To cite this Article: Dever, Martha and Burts, Diane (2002) 'An Evaluation of Family Literacy Bags as a Vehicle for Parent Involvement', Early Child Development and Care, 172:4, 359 — 370 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/03004430212721 URL:

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the authors note. contact Dr. Ray Reutzel.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 An Evaluation of Family Literacy Bags as a Vehicle for Parent Involvement MARTHA T. 84322-2805. Children demonstrated an initial and sustained interest in the FLB project. D. Findings from this inquiry conducted in four primarily rural. early childhood scholars concur that books and interactive reading between adults and children is critical (Adams. Furthermore. Logan. 359–370 Downloaded By: [Alerta .edu ISSN 0300-4430 print. Many parents foster a home environment that supports their children’s school achievement. Fax: 435-797-0372. Key words: Parent involvement. 2001. Scott and Wilkinson. new information about availability of various books. Other parents. DEVERa. Bus. Van Ijzendoorn and Pellegrini. pp. (b) ability to attend to text and school learning. BURTSb a Department of Elementary Education. To meet the diversity of family needs. 1996). E-mail: dever@coe. 6515 Old Main Hill. Neuman. Louisiana State University. 1998). time for many parents { To get more information or to order the FLB guidebooks. and information about their children’s developing language skills. 1997. Furthermore. 1996). Utah State University. Ramos and Krashen. * Corresponding author. Hiebert. 84322-6515. parents learned effective ways to read and discuss books with their children. Suggestions for further research and parent education are discussed. p. The Family Literacy Bags (FLB) project described and evaluated here. may not have the resources or the inclination to support their children’s success in school in these ways. LA. 2000. Dever.{ and DIANE C.: 435-797-0394. 1998=99. Literacy bags. 1985. Director. Dever. and=or attending parent workshops. some of the FLB contained materials in both Spanish and English. they argue for the importance of involving families in their children’s education. and advocate involving parents in their children’s education (Barbour. Vol. 23). (c) print knowledge. UT. 2002. Baton Rouge. Furthermore. is a parent involvement and education innovation designed to engage children and their families in reading books at home. Family In the landmark text Becoming a Nation of Readers. middle class school districts in the west. ISSN 1476-8275 online # 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10. accompanying the class on field trips. and (d) motivation for literacy learning (Robinson. 1995. UT. High frequency of home picture book reading supports children’s: (a) readiness to benefit from formal literacy instruction. however. 172(4). Logan. 1995. Tel. Utah State University. suggest that the FLB project encouraged home book reading in families. Larson and Haupt. ‘‘the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children’’ (Anderson. Neuman. performing tasks at home to assist the teacher. For example. These parents may participate in their children’s education by coming to school. 2805 Old Main Hill.usu.1080/0300443022000004666 . bSchool of Human Ecology.Early Child Development and Care. 70803 (Received 24 January 2002) Early childhood scholars concur that books and interactive reading between adults and children strongly support children’s reading achievement. 2001.

In this article. learning at home. but are not limited to it.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M. Berger. Home Book-Reading Early shared reading has been linked to later language growth and reading achievement. Schools have the opportunity to positively impact children’s achievement when they support parents as educators (Barbour. 1995). ‘‘engaging parents and children in mutual activities that include book reading. 1985) have found that reading to preschoolers advances their linguistic development and assists them to develop a schema for written narrative language. Stowe and Arnold. wrote about their experiences in Mr. Kokoski and Patton provided science and math activities for children to take home in special backpacks. McIntyre and Freppon. a view common among Hispanic parents. 1997). 2001) and acknowledge the critical importance of time spent reading with more literate others. Kokoski and Patton. Others have negative memories of their own school experiences and find school to be an uncomfortable place. scholars (Purcell-Gates. For example. 119). To address diverse family needs. A third reason that parents may not be greatly involved in their children’s education is their belief that teachers are the absolute authority. One way. we describe how families responded to the FLB project that was implemented in one city and three rural school districts in the western United States. 1998. Three of the four districts were experiencing an increase in numbers of nonnative English speaking families. Research indicates that children who are read to from birth have an advantage over children from homes where reading is less prominent (Oglan and Elcombe). engaging in formal teaching is considered by some as an interference (Espinosa. other book related activities. Burts and Dever. Each FLB contains high-quality children’s books and a guidebook for parents to read and talk about the books with their children. 2001. 1998=99. T. 2001). Epstein (1995) advocates a variety of ways to involve parents in their children’s education. involves supplying parents with information and materials to work with their children at home. with their parents assistance. for example. Related to reading at home. to children’s literacy learning (Oglan and Elcombe. to encourage parents and children to talk and write at home.360 Downloaded By: [Alerta . and for kindergarten children to demonstrate initial and sustained interest in and enthusiasm for using the FLB at home. and early childhood scholars argue for the importance of parents’ reading to their children (Ortiz. thus. Many early childhood educators have developed programs for learning at home (Barbour. Teachers teach and parents nurture. The Family Literacy Bags (FLB) project is grounded in the research and professional literature on early literacy learning and parent involvement and education. 1994). Fisher’s students took turns taking Mr. 1995. 2001. many parents indicate that they lack high-quality reading materials and knowledge of the reading process and are thus unable to support their children’s reading success at home (Brock and Dodd. C. Dever. The general purpose of the project was to encourage and support home book-reading and discussions. Sulzby. may constitute the richest potential for supporting children’s early literacy development’’ (p. Dever. 1998. Barbour developed the Home Literacy Bags that are very similar to the Family Literacy Bags described here. 1995. For example. 2001). leaving little time to assist at school. All kindergarten teachers in the four districts were given enough FLB to use in their classrooms so that each child could take a bag home approximately every third week. BURTS is consumed with providing the necessities for their children. Bear home for the night and. DEVER AND D. Fisher. . Neuman (1997) asserts. Bear’s journal. primarily Spanish-speaking.

However. Ortiz et al. 1998=99. gardening).Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 361 Robinson et al. they found that home-based rereading of books increased students’ reading motivation and promoted parental involvement. low SES. Bisson. They found increased reading comprehension with the book-rich condition. the amount of time spent with books increased in both middle and low SES homes. Many parents noted that having books at home reminded them to read to their children and gave them new information about the breadth of children’s literature available. In addition. In their study. time spent reading. Dever. and other family members.g. 2001) suggest that children were eager to take the books home.g. Findings from both studies (Barbour.. the project was designed to: (a) increase parental involvement in book reading and related activities (e. buttons. Koskinen. In addition. it became a family affair involving siblings. Creamer and Baker (2000) examined the effects of a book-rich classroom.. and talked about the books at school. were enthusiastic about their experiences with the books and activities. Phillips. grandparents. Furthermore. With the exception of common household items such as pencils. 1996) assessed the impact of taking home high-quality picture books on reading behaviors of pre-k and kindergarten children from low and middle SES groups. The FLB were distributed to all kindergarten teachers in one city and three rural school districts in the western United States. Blum. the purpose of the Family Literacy Bags (FLB) project was to engage parents in learning at home activities focusing on literacy. number of books read. they found the audio tape condition provided particular benefits for children learning to speak English. They also indicated that they learned about effective ways to read with their children (Dever).. along with extension activities (some included writing) focused around a theme (e. 1998=99. older siblings). and home-based reading with audio taped books with native and nonnative English speakers. The researchers concluded that innovations to increase home book reading are worthy of exploration. and the number of books read at home increased. In addition. availability of high-quality literature and materials made it easier for single and working parents to become meaningfully involved in their children’s learning. bags containing highquality children’s books along with suggested extension activities for children and their parents to do together were sent home with children. nonnative English speakers). (b) increase children’s involvement in book reading and related activities with other family members (e. Building on a pilot study (Dever. and time spent engaged in book related discussions and activities). home-based reading. More specifically. Dever. Barbour noted that this simple strategy for supporting literacy development is one way to reach all types of families. Each bag contained 3 high-quality children’s books of varying reading=developmental levels and genres.. data were collected to determine whether the families used the FLB and the nature of their experiences with them. change. Programs to support reading and discussing books at home have been developed and implemented (Barbour. She also reported that the project was successful in bringing about mutual family=school support and promoting children’s learning. (2001) suggest that innovations to increase children’s interest in books need to be explored. and (c) for kindergarten children to demonstrate initial and sustained interest in and enthusiasm using the FLB at home. all materials needed for the extension activities were included in the bags. In two such programs. extended family. even those who typically do not participate in school-based events (e.g. Family Literacy Bags Project Description In general. with and without the home-based reading component. 2001). (1995. Furthermore.g. children demonstrated an increased interest in books at school. and parents made time for reading to their children (Barbour). 2001).FAMILY LITERACY BAGS Downloaded By: [Alerta . .

T. For example. Also included were suggested activities to extend the theme of the bag. The in-service focused on: (a) parent involvement in general and other strategies for involving parents representing diverse populations (b) the FLB as a specific parent involvement strategy (c) maintenance and use of the FLB. These were explained to parents at Back to School Night. BURTS FIGURE 1 Family literacy bag. Teachers participated in an in-service meeting at the beginning of the school year prior to implementation of the project. and . to read so that the child can see the text and illustrations. to allow the child to select the book(s) to be read.). and to re-read books at the child’s request. Guidelines for book discussions included open-ended questions specific to each book.340 families with whom these teachers worked (500 from city schools and 1840 from rural schools). 1 is an example of a FLB.362 Downloaded By: [Alerta . Families in the geographic area are primarily white. The subjects of this study were 2.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M. C. parents were reminded of the importance of regular reading with their child. middle-class. DEVER AND D. Each bag also contained a parent guidebook with information and guidelines for reading and discussing the books with children. METHODS Participants All of the kindergarten teachers (N ¼ 65) in one city (N ¼ 14) and three rural school districts (N ¼ 51) in the western United States participated in this project. Some of the FLB contained materials in Spanish and English (Fig. Each teacher received 10 FLB per session of kindergarten s=he taught to ensure that each child in the class could take a FLB home for one week every third week. and (d) conducting action research to evaluate the FLB and to guide practice.

Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 363 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. Data Collection and Analysis Four data sources were used to describe the extent and nature of literacy behaviors related to the FLB project. what they found challenging. (b) they re-read the books. A systematic random sample (N ¼ 442) of the 2653 FLB Evaluation forms returned was selected for analysis. For example. then. and what they will do differently in the future. some. Asian. the school districts. Respondents also provided written comments about their experiences with the FLB which were qualitatively analyzed. primarily native Spanish-speakers. Dependent t-tests and Effect Sizes were calculated on the pre. (c) they enjoyed the extension activities. Hispanic children represent the largest minority population of children with Native American. .and post. (d) quality and variety of books. Although the area is relatively homogenous.surveys to identify statistically or practically significant mean differences in parents’ home reading behaviors. Percent of responses in each category were calculated on the likert scale items on the FLB Evaluation form. Respondents indicated the degree (none. what they will continue to do in the future. it is experiencing an increase in cultural and linguistic diversity. August 13. (c) person(s) reading with the child. Pre. The selection was made by numbering the total returned surveys. Most respondents completed the pre-Reading Books at Home Questionnaire during the initial parent teacher conference at the beginning of the school year which yielded a return rate of 72% (N ¼ l712). Information was obtained from parents and teachers and quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyze the data. included in the bags. Teacher’s Qualitative Survey At the end of the school year. Parent FLB Evaluation Form (available in Spanish and English) Parents completed an FLB Evaluation form. 2001). beginning with the second survey.and Post-Reading Books at Home Questionnaire (available in Spanish and English) Parents were asked by teachers to complete a one-page questionnaire prior to distribution of the FLB at the beginning of the school year and again at the end of the school year after using the FLB. and manufacturing companies. in the largest of the four districts the number of Hispanic children attending school increased from 3. The major employers in the geographic area are a major state university. The post-survey was sent home to all participating families in late March with reminders sent twice in April yielding a 42% return rate (N ¼ 1010). teachers responded to openended questions regarding what they viewed as strengths and weaknesses of the FLB project. This measure was used to ascertain parents’ reading habits with their kindergarten child including: (a) frequency. and African American children combined making up less than one percent of the total population (Chad Downs. and (d) the information in the guidebook was helpful.3% of the total in 1995 to 7% of the total in 2000. The responses to open-ended questions were qualitatively analyzed. In addition.FAMILY LITERACY BAGS Downloaded By: [Alerta . Sixty-six percent (N ¼ 43) of the Teacher’s Qualitative Surveys were returned. selecting every sixth survey thereafter (to obtain approximately 15% of the total). each time they were sent home. teachers were asked to indicate what they liked about the project. randomly selecting a number between one and six (number two was drawn from a cup). all) to which: (a) they enjoyed the books. (b) amount of time spent reading. personal communication. and (f) frequency of book discussions they have with their child. Specifically.

and time spent engaged in book related discussions and activities). C. In addition. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected to determine the extent to which the purpose of the project was met. An audit trail was created as units of analysis were isolated. number of books read. BURTS Teachers’ Anecdotes Teachers recorded anecdotes throughout the school year including students’ and parents’ responses to the FLB project. While all means increased from the beginning to the end of the school year. These discrepancies were discussed and consensus reached on how they should be coded. one research assistant analyzed an archived data set to further verify the utility of the coding scheme. This suggests that families were already engaging in reading at home at the onset of this inquiry. Data indicate that they engaged in book reading more than the related activities. T. Respondents ¯ ¯ were reading 3–4 books per week as indicated by the pre. Dependent t-tests and Effect Sizes were calculated on the Pre. older siblings).g. These data suggest the families used the FLB fairly extensively. RESULTS The purpose of project was to: (a) increase parental involvement in book reading and related activities (e. Figure 2 shows the percent of responses in each category indicating the extent to which books were read and re-read. Only seven discrepancies were identified during this process. X ¼ 3. families were reading 3–5 times per ¯ ¯ week as indicated by the pre. For example.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M. and categorized based on common characteristics.and post-surveys (X ¼ 3. time spent reading. Data analysis was on-going as categories were identified and refined. DEVER AND D. Utility of the coding was confirmed with no discrepancies noted. These data were analyzed using the constant comparative method.2. Responses to the open-ended questions of the Parent FLB Evaluation form. .g.4 respectively).and Post-Reading Books at Home Questionnaires where parents characterized reading behaviors at home. Results indicate that families used the FLB and that they enjoyed and engaged in book reading and related activities found in the FLB. none increased at a statistically or practically significant level. Trustworthiness was ensured with the use of peer examiners and referential adequacy. X ¼ 3. First. and teachers’ anecdotes provided insight into the families’ experiences with the FLB project. They wrote their own reflections as well.364 Downloaded By: [Alerta .4 Enjoyed books All Some None No response 82% 17% 1% Read books more than once 31% 42% 24% 3% Enjoyed activities 45% 44% 8% 3% Information helpful 58% 35% 3% 4% FIGURE 2 Family participation in FLB project. the Teacher’s Qualitative Survey. and (c) for kindergarten children to demonstrate initial and sustained interest in and enthusiasm using the FLB at home.3. extended family. For example. most respondents (82%) enjoyed all of the books in the bag while just under half (45%) enjoyed all of the activities. and the guidelines were helpful. (b) increase children’s involvement in book reading and related activities with other family members (e. the activities were enjoyed. compared with other units. two research assistants served as peer examiners to determine whether the coding scheme made sense and note consistency in the coding. after data analysis was competed.and post-surveys (X ¼ 3.

We can spend the whole week reinforcing that subject. one parent commented. Finally. the theme Opportunity included statements about the quality of the time spent and time for interaction between parents and children. Some nonSpanish speaking parents enjoyed sharing the Spanish and English materials with their children.’’ and. We can conclude. . A response translated from Spanish noted. ‘‘We do not like getting both Spanish and English books – there are too many books to worry about. .2.FAMILY LITERACY BAGS Downloaded By: [Alerta . when they don’t apply to my child. Engagement.’’ ‘‘ . parents responded favorably to the organization of the FLB. however.’’ Others expressed appreciation for the ‘‘hands on materials. respondents were spending about 30 ¯ ¯ minutes to an 1 hour per week reading (X ¼ 2. I didn’t have to buy anything like paper plates. Also included under the category Information.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 365 respectively). When asked if there was anything they did not like about the FLB. ‘‘I liked how it had a theme.’’ The inclusion of Spanish materials along with the English materials received mixed reactions. or simply stated. ‘‘I like all the thing have [sic] in the bag. ‘‘I don’t like having to keep track of Spanish books. Organization. etc. Comments included. . etc. X ¼ 2. Spanish-speaking parents expressed different reasons for responding negatively to the inclusion of Spanish materials in the bags.’’ Another commented in English. that the FLB project contributed to continued reading at home based on the data presented in Figure 2 as well as the qualitative findings. ‘‘I think having the Spanish version of the book is a good thing for those who speak the language. ‘‘It is very nice to have the units already formed.’’ Others elaborated. ‘‘Everything is kept together – even things for the activities.’’ Some native English-speaking parents did not appreciate the inclusion of Spanish materials. A third theme.’’ The use of themes as an organizational structure was also positively received. Would be easier to have separate English and Spanish book bags–more to keep stuffing back into the bag that we don’t use and to keep track of. One parent summed it by saying. ‘‘Spanish book – cannot read Spanish.’’ and. related to the overall structure and contents of the FLB including the selection of the items to be included and the thematic organizational structure. Information emerged as a theme encompassing things parents learned from using the FLB including information about reading and interacting with children as well as things they learned about their child. Parents noted. the assortment of books. The theme. The qualitative data serve to enrich our understanding of responses to the FLB by providing insight into how families used them. ‘‘If I want to read books in Spanish it’s good because I don’t understand much reading him [sic] in English. He keeps asking me to read the Spanish version.’’ Another commented. are units of analysis that related to content of the books and guidebooks in the FLB. new and different’’ books. and ‘‘It was fun to see the same books in Spanish’’. the Teacher Qualitative Survey. Organization In general.4 respectively). Based on the pre.surveys. ‘‘I learned and my family read in the both language [sic]. Most Spanish-speaking families appreciated having the books and materials in their native language. . encompassed statements about parents and children’s interest in the project.and post. I had to keep telling him that I don’t speak Spanish.’’ A parent noted the usefulness of the theme approach as a teaching tool commenting. all different yet with a common link. Four major themes emerged from the qualitative data obtained from the Parent FLB Evaluation forms. ‘‘wonderful books. and teacher’s anecdotal notes. Please send English only.’’ the ‘‘ . Some also noted it as a benefit to Spanish speakers. ‘‘[The children] liked trying to read the Spanish translation’’. One teacher shared a concern a Hispanic parent’s .

I want Spanish has been taught [sic] at home by parents and English be taught at school. a parent indicated having learned something new noting. C. ‘‘I need to think more creatively and not just plough through a book to get to the end.’’ and they expressed appreciation for ‘‘becoming familiar with new stories.’’ The discussion questions helped parents make reading more interactive. Parents noted. Information related to learning about reading and doing reading related activities Data indicate that parents learned various things ranging from acquainting themselves with the diversity of available children’s books to the many ways to interact with children during book reading. Spanish for him is not very important (he speaks Spanish and read and write it [sic]).’’ and. It gave questions to discuss so my child was able to really think about what we read. I didn’t really know there were books you could read and learn about math and counting etc. We learned to be more interactive instead of just reading the book.’’ After enjoying a FLB of Tomie de Paola books.’’ Other parents learned the importance of (or were reminded of) making book reading interactive.’’ Another parent indicated s=he would generalize the information on discussing books to other reading situations noting.366 Downloaded By: [Alerta .’’ One parent noted. ‘‘My son liked the idea of making his own book.’’ that ‘‘[they] liked all the suggestions on how to present the book.’’ and. ‘‘The suggested activities and questions help to give me ideas of the types of things to discuss. One parent commented. amazed at how much my child remembered after reading the books just once. Information Three sub-themes emerged from this category: (a) information related to learning about reading and doing reading related activities with children.’’ and that the ‘‘activities were fun. It was nice to have the questions and activities provided to give me some ideas. . ‘‘[the project] gave me a chance to have more insight into the way my child thinks.’’ This parent added. One noted. a teacher shared.’’ Others indicated. . BURTS concern noting that some stories loose meaning when they are translated into Spanish. ‘‘The suggested activities were helpful. ‘‘ . ‘‘We read some books that we probably wouldn’t have. Some parents appreciated learning about the variety of children’s books available. I do not understand why books in Spanish have been sent to us. I am afraid he would be at disadvantage. . DEVER AND D. That memory expanded . One commented. T. ‘‘I guess what I liked most was that until these books came home. parents learned that there are books available to help children learn. (b) information about the child. If we force him to read in Spanish. . We do not have any language problems. My child need to learn English vocabulary at school.’’ Parents indicated that the guidebooks included. ‘‘It was fun reading new books.’’ Information about the child The FLB project led parents to learn new things about their children. One Spanish-speaking parent was concerned that his=her children needed to learn English and felt the inclusion of Spanish materials was inappropriate. I learned more about my child.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M. ‘‘It made me realize that I needed to do more than just read a book to my kids. They commented. and (c) information related to the content of the books. ‘‘It’s important to discuss material that you read with your child. I am not against you send us books in Spanish but always with the English version.’’ Although we have noted that most families in this inquiry read at home. ‘‘I liked how it was more than just reading a book. parents report really appreciating the ideas and helps.’’ Another parent was ‘‘ . This parent commented. ‘‘good questions for discussion. We want our child develops [sic] his best potentials. ‘‘We read together but I rarely ask questions or come up with activities that correlate with the stories.’’ Furthermore.

. One teacher shared. ‘‘The kids love taking [FLB] home. .’’ Negative comments about specific books were quite idiosyncratic. Parents noted.’’ and.’’ One commented on a FLB of Eric Carle books noting.’’ Other positive comments related to the theme of specific FLB or books.’’ The content of the books was interesting to many families. as if it were homework.’’ and. .’’ None of the teachers noted that the children tired of taking the FLB home. ‘‘The books were fun and interesting to both my child and myself. ‘‘I liked the theme – teaching kids that they are special. A parent noted.’’ A teacher declared her favorite thing about the project was. ‘‘We really enjoyed this author’s books.’’ Other observations included.’’ and. the ‘‘Little Red Hen made my child realize that she has to work sometimes to get things accomplished. parents tire of it as the year goes on. ‘‘I didn’t really like the math in both books. She knew the meaning of faithful and responsibility.’’ Another observed that. Generally.’’ While children seemed to maintain enthusiasm for the project. ‘‘It was fun to read new books. ‘‘I think some of the books were a little too hard for a 5-yearold to understand.FAMILY LITERACY BAGS Downloaded By: [Alerta . ‘‘[The book] helps the child realize his different moods. .’’ Similarly.’’ Another simply noted.’’ Information related to the content of the books Parent reaction to the content of the books was overwhelmingly positive. ‘‘ .’’ One parent suggested the project provides an opportunity to ‘‘stimulate our child’s interest in reading at this time in her life. ‘‘stories were easy to stay along with – kids stayed interested throughout the whole book. Some comments simply indicated the FLB experience was enjoyable while others related to the content of books. parents’ comments were consistent with teachers’. one noted. Comments about engagement with the content of the books were both negative and positive. Parents’ had a few negative responses regarding their children’s engagement with the books. could answer all the questions easily. one teacher noted. One positive comment related to the vocabulary in the book. ‘‘the pictures and story content kept my child’s interest well. . One parent noted.’’ Another teacher reported that a parent in her classroom sent the artifacts created from the FLB experience back to school ‘‘ .’’ and. I think most of it was over my child’s head. others noted. They are tired of homework too. ‘‘[I think] the vocabulary in the snake book was hard but it was good to teach new words. ‘‘My daughter didn’t follow along with Puddles very well. Seuss book is [sic] too deep for kindergarten level. One parented observed. ‘‘The stories all presented feelings in a different and creative way which encouraged different ways of looking at and discussing feelings with my child. They don’t want one more thing to do with their child [that comes from school].’’ ‘‘My children didn’t understand all of the Knots on a Counting Rope and My Great Aunt Arizona.’’ She explained to the parent that such accountability was unnecessary. one parent noted. ‘‘My children enjoy story time and having new books to read.’’ Another noted that his=her daughter. Engagement The category Engagement encompasses any units of analysis that demonstrated children’s engagement and interest in the books and=or related activities.’’ Others noted that ‘‘two of the books were kind of lacking and the illustrations were confusing.’’ Several comments referred to a FLB with a theme having to do with emotions. the ‘‘Dr. They can’t wait for their turn. ‘‘children being sad that they didn’t get one [this week].Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 367 as each book was read again and again. ‘‘[The project] started out wonderfully but. For example.’’ Content of some books were judged by parents as too difficult or to have inappropriate content.

Parent education should highlight the importance of acknowledging and valuing families from diverse cultural backgrounds. ‘‘Some of it was annoying because of the ‘busy work’. For example. BURTS ‘‘Some books are below the child’s interest level. . Children continue to learn in their native language as they become increasingly proficient with English. parents found opportunities to interact with their children around book reading and time to read and engage in book-related activities. . Comments related primarily to the quality of time spent in book reading and related activities and opportunities to teach the child.’’ Opportunity The category Opportunity encompasses units of analysis related to opportunities provided by the project. ‘‘We often don’t have time for the activity as we usually read before bed. DEVER AND D.’’ Another parent indicated. With both Spanish and English books available. T.’’ Some did not find the suggested activities engaging. Although not wide-spread. the negative reaction to the inclusion of Spanish materials was prominent enough that it is worth discussing. ‘‘It reminded me how important it is to spend time with my child. C. ‘‘We like the opportunity to discuss different emotions with our daughter. Generally. parents are really reading more to their children because of [the FLB]. ‘‘[the project] gives us time to spend with our children and helps us to ask good questions. Other findings suggest that parents learned of new book titles and they learned that books can be used to teach children concepts.’’ Parents noted that they liked ‘‘being able to spend some time reading with [their children]’’ and having ‘‘ . Some indicated that the theme approach enabled them to discuss a topic (feelings. Availability of books in the language of others provides a rich opportunity to learn about others. English-speaking parents can capitalize on this opportunity to learn about the language of their Spanish-speaking neigh- . both parents and teachers indicated that the guiding discussion questions assisted parents’ and children’s discussions of books.368 Downloaded By: [Alerta . One parent commented. One teacher said she felt. families indicated they did use the FLB which suggests that the project encouraged reading and interacting with books at home.’’ Another said. Learning to value our differences is perhaps worth the inconvenience of keeping track of books and materials in two languages. ‘‘we did not do the activities this time but will make it a point to do them next time. families learned some things about reading with their child.’’ DISCUSSION The first goal of this project was to increase parental involvement in book reading and related activities. . In general. parents garnered information about their children in the context of the FLB project including their children’s varied interests and developing skills. Similarly. While families generally engaged in regular reading at home prior to the project. parents were reminded to (or learned to) make book reading interactive and they expanded their understanding of effective ways to accomplish this. One shared. A few parents indicated that the FLB provided the opportunity to teach their child. One parent simply noted. a good reason to spend quiet quality time with our child. .’’ Many parents made similar comments.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M.’’ As Figure 2 indicates. ‘‘ . Spanish-speaking families learn that their native culture and language are valued.’’ Similarly. Finally. parents were more likely to read to their children than to engage in reading related activities. for example) in depth. Furthermore.

The final project goal was to create initial and sustained interest in and enthusiasm for using the FLB on part the children. and Wilkinson. The positive response of parents and teachers about children’s enthusiasm for taking home a FLB indicate children’s initial interest in the FLB.. Further research is needed to address potential benefits and effective ways to implement the FLB project with parents who have limited literacy skills. L. some parents became weary of children bringing home ‘‘homework. G.. J. These data were collected in a predominately rural. Review of Educational Research. 22(2).. 2001. (1995) School=family=community partnerships: Caring for the children we share. C. 1995. The second project goal addressed increasing children’s involvement in book reading and related activities with other family members. and Dever. D. J. L. and Dodd. E. MS: The MIT Press. 1997) that suggest innovations such as the FLB project encourage parents to read with their children. Furthermore. 701–712. 1995. G. However. V.E. H. Anderson. and little time to spend reading. Ijsendoorn. A. The Report of the Commission on Reading. Dever. 23. M. D. A. References Adams. 1997) suggest that reading at home is a valuable activity and might take priority over other activities. The findings from this inquiry are consistent with other research findings (Barbour. T. and Pellegrini. R. no increase in involvement by other family members was found in this project. 2001. 2001. They can talk with their children about how all children enjoy stories and that many stories are written in more than one language. 65(1). 17–28. 76(9). (2000) Beginning to Read. 119–123. Journal of Early Education and Family Review. The data suggest that various family members were already engaged in reading with the children. T. Epstein. J. Robinson et al. Berger. teachers need to promote the FLB project as an enjoyable family activity and not a laborious homework task. Further research is also needed to determine whether there is a causal effect between innovations such as the FLB project and children’s reading achievement. Scott. Early Childhood Journal.. Phi Delta Kappan. 1998=99. H. Acknowledgments The Family Literacy Bags project was made possible by a Goals 2000 grant in Utah (USA) and the Emma Eccles Jones Center for Early Childhood Education at Utah State University. 1–21. (1995) Reaching for the stars: Families and schools working together. Burts. 71–75. (1994) A family lending library: Promoting early literacy development. perhaps teachers should critically analyze homework expectations to be certain that the homework merits asking busy families to spend precious time on it. Young Children. The Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 75(2). (2001) Family literacy bags: A vehicle for parent involvement and education. Thinking and Learning about Print. . (1998=99) Home literacy bags promote family involvement. Ortiz. First. Bus. Furthermore. Hiebert. (1985) Becoming a Nation of Readers. 1996. Robinson et al. Cambridge. A. 8(4). 1996.’’ including FLBs. D. Second. 49(3). A. a finding that has two implications. C.. middle class area where reading at home was already valued. Washington DC:The National Institute of Education. Dever. these findings extend our understand of what families learn via home book reading projects and how they can provide a vehicle for parent education. Unlike Barbour (1998=99). E. 16–21. Studies (Ortiz et al. I. (1995) Joint book reading makes for success in learning to read: A meta-analysis on intergenerational transmission of literacy. (2001) Engaging teacher education students in an authentic parent education project. H. Brock. M.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 369 bors. M. there is no indication that children became tired of taking the FLB home suggesting their interest was sustained. M. inadequate understanding of how to read with their children.FAMILY LITERACY BAGS Downloaded By: [Alerta . Barbour. A. Childhood Education. 59–62. C. R..

659–685. C. shared reading. I. Urbana. H. S. 495–513. J. 35(3). C. J. Larsen. opportunity. and audio models: The effects of supporting the literacy learning of linguistically diverse students in school and at home. L. S. H. and Haupt. 11–16. 51(7). (1996) The influence of selecting and taking picture books home on the at-home reading behaviors of kindergarten children. P. Urbana.. Oglan.. Purcell-Gates.. M. Fisher. A. R. 16(2). V. McIntyre. B.. 23–36. and Arnold. M. H. 263–281. B. Stowe. K. and Haupt. (1997) Beyond homework: Science and mathematics backpacks. (2001) Parental influence on child interest in shared picture book reading. Reading Research and Instruction. C. Robinson. T. A. Early Education and Development. 25(2). T. S. C. 92(1). Reading Research Quarterly. (1996) Children engaging in storybook reading: The influence of access to print resources. F. and Krashen... and Patton. Ramos. BURTS Espinosa. Visson. Neuman. (2001) Parent to parent: Our children. (1998) Joyful Learning. NH: Heinemann. P. J. D. The Reading Teacher. E. Neuman. Phillips. R. (1985a) Children’s emergent reading of favorite storybooks: A developmental study. (1995) Picture book reading at home: A comparison of Head Start and middle-class preschoolers. 458–481. Reading Research Quarterly. 32(3). B. Larsen. Sulzby. M. T. M.370 Downloaded By: [Alerta . (1997) Guiding young children’s participation in early literacy development: A family literacy program for adolescent mothers. S.. Robinson.. 6. C.. Creamer. 241–252. American Educational Research Journal. and Freppon. Journal of Educational Psychology. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. (2000) Book access. S. IL. DEVER AND D. 614–615. 11. Early Child Development and Care. S. . and Baker. C. IL: National Council of Teachers of English. M. and parental interaction. and Elcombe. (1998) The impact of one trip to the public library: Making books available may be the best incentive for reading. Dimensions of Early Childhood. T. Portsmouth. S. their literacy. M. (1995) Learning written storybook language in school: A comparison of low-SES children in skills-based and whole language classrooms. 20. 249–259. J. M.. M. E. H. 127–128. Blum. (1995) Hispanic Parent Involvement in Early Childhood Programs (ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education). Koskinen. 119–129.Chile 2005/2006 Consortium] At: 22:51 3 May 2008 M. Ortiz. Kokoski. G. A.

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