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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

Helping Parents Get Ready for Summer Reading
Sharon Pettey-Taylor

As educators striving to improve our relationships and professional practice with our students’ families, the Professional Teaching Standards clearly encourages us to:

  • value and respect students’ families and appreciate their role in student learning;
  • engage families as sources of knowledge about students’ linguistic and social backgrounds; [and]
  • present the educational [summer reading] program to all families.

By doing so, we provide an opportunity for parents to fulfill their obligation as their child’s first teacher. Reading aloud in the home is the single most important factor leading to a child’s successful literacy development. Therefore, parents who are cognizant of: daily storytime, visits to the public library/bookstores, and who participate in activities such as illustrating creative storyboards will greatly impact their children’s mastery of language skills and positive reading attitudes, beginning at a very early age.

Research further confirms that parental involvement in reading, particularly in the summer months, has a significant bearing on increased scores related to reading comprehension and vocabulary, as compared to those who did not foster their role in their child’s literacy development.

When a child reads as a “leisure activity,” it is actually perceived as a fun experience especially if the books reflect the child’s interests. Accompanied by a parent, browsing through a bookstore for the purpose of purchasing a varied collection of reading (of the child’s choosing) can turn out to be a very enjoyable and motivational start to a shared reading experience for both parent and child.

To assist them in aiding their child’s literacy development-- reading for understanding often using questioning skills—consider providing the following outline as an informational tool to parents of beginning/emergent readers and English language learners.

Summer Reading: How Parents Can Help

Reading for Understanding/Questions for Reading at Home

Before Your Child Reads

Look at the book – ask your child to find:

  • What the book is called? (title)
  • Who wrote the book? (author)
  • When the book was printed? (date)
  • What the story seems to be about? (use pictures, chapter headings, vocabulary)

Talk about the book – why did your child choose it?

While Your Child Reads

Talk about the story – ask your child the following:

  • Who is in the story? (What does each character do?)
  • Where does the story take place?
  • When does the story happen? (time, season, era)
  • What important happenings tell about the story? (first, next, last)
  • How do you think the story will end? (What clues make you think so?)
  • What new words have you found?
  • What do they mean in the story?

After Your Child Reads

Consider the story – ask your child:

  • Can you give the story a new name? (Title)
  • What is the story really about?
  • What would have happened if ________ did or didn’t do what he/she did?
  • Would you have told the story in a different way?  (How would you like it to end?  Why?)
  • Did you enjoy the story?  Why?  Why not?

By facilitating parents and children in the joys of reading, we can most likely expect to see the rewards of our collaborative efforts long after the carefree days of summer.


Developing as a Professional Educator. The Professional Teaching Standards. New Teacher Center at The University of California, Santa Cruz, 2004.

Google:  Parents as First Teachers

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion about this article? E-mail Sharon.



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