At the school where I teach, we have about 100 students in five preschool classrooms, plus one kindergarten class. In the fall and in the spring, the school sponsors a fabulous family reading program that gets the entire school reading together. Eleven picture books are chosen for the semester’s book club, and multiple copies are made available for check-out from the school.
Over the course of about two months, an incredibly high percentage of the students in the school read all the selected books, but it doesn’t just end there. The children talk with one of our administrators (who is one of the founders of the program several years ago) after they finish a book, chatting about the story and “punching” a card that has all the book titles on it for individuals to keep track of their reading.
It’s always really cool for children to talk about the books they’ve read, and in the context of an entire school reading the same books, the conversations don’t stop with their families or with our administrator. The children chat with each other when they meet at the bookshelf in the school’s main area as their families are checking out new books or returning others. “Did you read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, too? I loved that one!” can be overheard. My book-loving heart soars when I hear the conversations that happen at that shelf!
So, why am I telling you about a program that happens at a school where your child doesn’t attend? Well, I offer this description because the concept is so basic that it can be a model for other groups! Maybe you have a playgroup that you meet up with each week, or perhaps your child attends a co-op nursery school. Even if you can’t get a collection of books for the group to share, you can always take advantage of your local public library. Go ahead and choose a set of picture books that you think your group will enjoy. After all the families are on board, just start reading. When you get together the next time, talk with each other about what you’ve read. A fabulous way to encourage reading and to share the experience with the important people in your life!