For Immediate Release - August 01, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Offers New Tools to Support Children and Families in Early Literacy Development

BOSTON – The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) today announced the availability of community-based resources designed to engage families in building early literacy development.  This new toolkit will give the state’s Coordinated Family and Community Engagement networks additional capacity to strengthen children’s reading skills from infancy through age eight.  Governor Deval Patrick has set a goal of literacy proficiency by the 3rd grade for every child in Massachusetts and has identified high-quality literacy instruction during children’s earliest years as a key strategy for achieving this success. 

As part of this initiative, EEC’s Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) networks received training on Scholastic, Inc.’s “Read and Rise” program, a family-focused curriculum centered on the components of early literacy development in children.  This training underscored the essential role of parents as their child’s first teacher.  The CFCE networks will now make the curriculum, which includes read-aloud stories, literacy tips, book suggestions, and hands-on activities, available to families across the Commonwealth for use at home.  This toolkit also includes supports for children with high needs and children with limited English proficiency.

“One of the most important and lasting gifts we can give our children is a love of reading,” said Governor Patrick. “Literacy is foundational to lifelong learning and we are committed to providing our youngest citizens and their families with the supports necessary to ensure that strong foundation.”

“Engaging families in providing high quality, enriching early experiences for children, such as those that promote literacy skill development, provide a solid foundation for children’s learning and future success,” said Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins.  “Parents and families are their children’s first teachers and as such they have an important role to play in supporting early literacy and language development.” 

The CFCE networks will each implement the Read and Rise model in alignment with their existing family engagement resources and based on their community’s needs.  Early literacy activities planned by the CFCE networks include introducing literacy tips to parents during child playgroups, awarding books to families after they read a designated number of books, running the Read and Rise program in local public libraries, creating take-home literacy kits using the Read and Rise books, and facilitating topic-rich conversations that may be replicated at home as a source of culturally- based literacy skill building.

“Our network will build a new literacy activity using the parent conversation group model in the Read and Rise program,” said, Beverly Mobilia, Coordinator of the Newton Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Network.  “The resources and guides are friendly, easy to follow and the discussion activity gave us additional ideas to use.”

To enhance the participating CFCE networks’ literacy programming, EEC provided each network with a distribution of age-appropriate books, including appropriate materials for English language learners and multilingual families.  The CFCE networks will use the Read and Rise program and the books provided by EEC to empower parents and families to  strengthen their own literacy skills and to serve as an entry point to additional community resources that support children’s reading and overall development. 

“The Read and Rise training has allowed our network to enhance the summer reading program even further, creating a summer curriculum that includes family conversations, modeling, and families taking part of facilitating read alouds,” said Francia Wisnewski of the Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire & North Quabbin Regions Coordinated Family and Community Engagement network.  “We will have an ‘end of the Summer reading galore’ that will provide books for children to take home and keep, and this fall we will offer training sessions on Read and Rise in English and Spanish.” 

“Our network will circulate the book donation from EEC within our three Parent/Child Programs as reading materials, and will also award books to families after they finish reading a designated number of books,” said Patricia Sinko of the Brimfield Coordinated Family and Community Engagement network.  “The partnership with Scholastic helps us to get books into families’ homes for less money, which is an invaluable resource.”