Welcome to our first FACE newsletter! In each issue, we will focus on the many ways in which schools and community organizations and the families they serve are working together to ensure that our children have the literacy skills they need to succeed in school.
We believe there is real power in the collaboration among families, schools, and community-based organizations. This is where lives are changed, where children thrive, and better futures are made. At Scholastic, we're working hard to extend our support of literacy beyond the classroom and into students' homes and community. By working together, we can achieve far more than any one of us could achieve alone.
We hope you enjoy this newsletter and your upcoming summer break, and we're eager to share more research and strategies with you upon your return back to school next fall. If you have any ideas to share or would like to see your organization or community profiled, share your story at FACE@scholastic.com.
Vice President and General Manager
Scholastic Classroom and Community Group
Scholastic's Family and Community Engagement (FACE) draws together research-based programs and strategies that support students from birth through high school. FACE is built on five mutually supportive pillars. Convincing research has shown that these five methods are extremely effective ways to foster literacy in young children.
New research suggests that giving children a wide selection of books to choose from is the simplest and most effective way to mitigate reading loss caused by the summer slide.
The mere presence of books in the home profoundly impacts a child's academic achievement, according to a 20-year study published in 2010 that looked at academic performance in 27 countries.
More books means more schooling. Students with 500 books in their home remain in school for 3.2 years longer than children with no books in their home at all. But "even a little bit goes a long way," says Mariah Evans, the lead researcher for the study. Students also benefited from as few as 20 books in their homes. The more books, the bigger the impact.
Books are an investment in the future. "What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" Evans asks. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed. Even a little bit goes a long way. You get a lot of 'bang for your book.' It's quite a good return on investment in a time of scarce resources."
Children of less-educated parents benefit the most. Every book makes a difference. This was true for children from rural China to the American inner cities.
Scholastic is a book source you count on. Scholastic FACE has many ways to help organizations provide books to the children in their communities. Our Bring Literacy Home Initiative subsidizes books to help increase access to books, and the My Books take home book program provides children with personalized take-home book packs with corresponding activity sheets for summer or year-round reading practice.
Recently we were lucky enough to sit down with David C. Banks, President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, which runs the four award-winning Eagle Academy schools for young men from the inner city. We are proud to have David as a member of Scholastic's FACE Advisory Council.
When we opened the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx in 2004, it was the first all-boys public high school to open in New York City in more than 30 years. The school was a response to the national crisis that we have seen with young men—particularly men of color who have very low graduation rates and high incarceration rates. The original group that launched our flagship school was 100 Black Men, an organization of business, political, and community leaders. They also saw fit to start the Eagle Academy Foundation, which drives the work of our schools. We've since opened schools in Brooklyn, Queens, and Newark. Next year we will open in Harlem, and the following year, we will open in Staten Island. That is our work.
We've been able to figure out how to get parents really engaged and be part of the process. That's number one. We have regular parent association meetings with food and refreshments on Saturday mornings. We keep it accessible. We don't have parent meetings at seven o'clock on a Wednesday night. We don't do that.
We have a differentiated approach, so we don't just have one large parent group. Every grade has its own leadership and its own grade-specific agenda that they deal with at their gatherings, which I think is very important. A 12th-grade parent doesn't want to sit in a meeting listening to a sixth-grade parent talk about what's going on with middle school science. We also hold raffles at all of our meetings. It adds a little excitement.
We set up booths outside the auditorium, and different groups like the library or early-literacy orgs give out materials. We also conduct health screenings, and local vendors sell their wares.
We do interventions as early as possible. We begin with our summer bridge, where we have the young men for three to four weeks in the summer before they start their school year at Eagle. Right there we begin to build a spirit of brotherhood. We also run the various diagnostic exams and see where they are academically, and then each school designs its own academic intervention strategy for each student. Students who are struggling in math or reading, whether it’s a learning disability or a lack of familiarity with the subject matter, these are the things that we would observe early on.
Our teachers come in and speak on a regular basis to our parents about the kinds of things that are needed for the kids to be successful. Then we have parents mentor other parents. These are parents who are doing very well and have overcome certain challenges with their kids. We see a commitment to education and a positive approach to reading and school spread from family to family.
Houston Independent School District (HISD) has been working hard to ensure that their kindergartners will achieve reading competency by the time they reach third grade. No easy task for a district that has grappled with the interlinked problems of underperforming schools and families living in poverty.
So the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL) and HISD got together and came up with a plan. If they could get families excited and engaged in reading and literacy activities before their children started school, the kids would come to kindergarten ready to read!
HAUL and HISD needed to educate parents about the many ways they can help prepare their children to be successful in school. To do this, they chose Scholastic's Read and Rise program as their model. Read and Rise is a research program designed to bring communities together to support literacy development. It includes take-home libraries for every student, instructional materials for parents, and professional development for facilitators to conduct workshops to educate parents about how to use the program.
Together HAUL and HISD hosted a large "Read and Rise Family Night Out" to introduce the program. The evening was split between larger discussions and breakout sessions. Parents reporting back from the breakouts were encouraged to share what they learned by any method they wanted. They could sing, or act out a scene, or share a personal story. At the end of the evening, families were invited to register for the full Read and Rise workshop series, which allows for more personalized and in-depth support.
Since that first Read and Rise Family Night Out, 25,000 parents in Houston have been trained under Read and Rise, and 120,000 books have been distributed to children.
Click here to learn more about Read and Rise.
Interested in organizing a family literacy night in your community? Here are some of the approaches that made the night in Houston such a big hit.
We have older students come down to the Head Start classes and read to the little ones. As the year progresses, most of the little ones will begin reading simple books to the older kids. —Cindy Lilly
We have a "Toddlers and Tots" program once a week. The school librarian invites parents and young children to come to the school, where she reads to them. The children to interact with the book or a theme with props and fun instruments. —Denise Schneider
Here's something simple. Encourage parents to turn on the closed captioning on their TVs! Anything that is prerecorded should match up pretty closely, and it's practically impossible NOT to read along while watching. —Abby Holmes
The best thing to do is to find some funding and send great books HOME with kids. —Rachel Smith
A friend and I started a program called "Smart Start" at our school. We hold monthly meetings with our preschool parents and talk about the importance of early literacy. We target parents of our schoolchildren who have siblings who aren’t yet in school. We also do make-and-take meetings and model different strategies for them to implement at home. Each month, we put new materials in the parent resource room each month for them to use. We also invite preschool parents into the kindergarten classroom to see how important early literacy development is to academic success. —Renee Borden
Our family literacy team sends out Mother Goose books to all of our students' toddler-aged siblings. It was a very eye-opening experiencing getting to hand-deliver them to homes. Plus, it’s a great way to show that our school cares. —Tracee Smith
Highlights include Summer Reading, Patrons of Literacy, The FACE Literacy Initiative—Bring Literacy Home. Featuring our Mentor Partnerships programs, BrainStorm and REAL that promote volunteer and Service Learning literacy strands for one-on-one and small group mentoring. Also included will be the FACE Early Literacy and Family Engagement program — Read & Rise and Literacy Fun Packs Express.
Features our Mentoring Partnerships programs BrainStorm and REAL that built to support employee engagement programs and increase community volunteering and service learning literacy outcomes. You can learn more about one-on-one and small group mentoring/volunteering with schools and community youth programs. Other highlights include Summer Reading, Patrons of Literacy, and the FACE Literacy initiative "Bringing Literacy Home."
Partner: Teecy Matthews - Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy Session Title: Mentoring Partnerships: Building a Community Network to Support Student Motivation and Aspirations!
Features our Mentoring Partnerships programs BrainStorm and REAL that promote volunteer and Service Learning literacy strands for one-on-one and small group mentoring. Other highlights include Summer Reading, Patrons of Literacy, The FACE Literacy Initiative - Bring Literacy Home.
Highlights include The FACE Literacy Initiative—Bring Literacy Home. FACE will also showcase our research based family literacy program - Read and Rise.
Highlights include Summer Reading, Patrons of Literacy, The FACE Literacy Initiative--Bring Literacy Home. Spotlighting REAL and Brainstorm around Mentoring and Service Learning - also included will be the FACE Early Literacy and Family Engagement program, Read & Rise and our Literacy Fun Packs Express.