I was lucky to be invited to share at the Southwest Virginia Reading Conference last week. Dr. Heidi Mesmer gave the opening session which focused on “rural readers.” One of her ideas was to provide “bus books” for children who have a long bus commute. What a great project for a service club or Sunday school class. Get a plastic crate and invite people to donate old children’s books or magazines. Put these on a bus and you’re all set!
Dr. Mesmer pointed out that children at risk are low in vocabulary, which can be addressed indirectly by reading and talking – high quantity and high quality. Vocabulary instruction should also be direct and systematic. And, wouldn’t this be a perfect season to expand vocabulary by discussing “scary” words and “spooky” things. Use an attribute web to brainstorm scary words. Let children draw pictures of ghouls, ghosts, or monsters and challenge them to use as many words as they can to describe their drawings.
In discussing literacy in families, Dr. Mesmer suggested children interview their parents and grandparents on how they learned to read. What were their favorite books or magazines when they were young? (You’ve got to love HIGHLIGHTS because that magazine has spanned many generations.)
Of course, I embraced her final comment – LOVE THESE KIDS! That’s our most important job as educators regardless of demographics! City, rural, urban – they are all children in need of our love and support!