By: Elyse Berrier, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Picture this: A crowd of children sit on the edge of their seats as the pages turn on the popular children’s book, Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. The librarian stops often to ask many questions, but also pauses to inquire about the lives of the children.
The librarian shares, “Gerald was dancing. Do you like to dance?” The excited children shout, “Yes!” One young boy yells aloud, “My brother and I dance at home a lot!”
She keeps reading. “His hooves started shuffling, making circles on the ground.”
The librarian stops and says, “Hooves are the hard part of an animal’s foot. Can you point to the hooves of Gerald, the giraffe?” Several children stand and a precious young two-year-old points at the hooves of the giraffe. “You’re right, those are Gerald’s hooves. Let’s keep reading to find out what happens as Gerald dances.”
She finishes the rest of the book, children listening actively to the story being read aloud. She finishes, beaming while sharing the last lines of the story:
“‘We all can dance,’ he said, ‘when we find music that we love.’”
“The End.” The crowd of participants, caregivers and their young preschool age children, clap loudly.
The librarian shares with the participants that now it is a special playtime for the children, as she is going to share what she calls the “ABCs of Active Reading” with parents and caregivers. The children scurry off to play as the parents listen carefully to learn important strategies for reading aloud with children.
Not Your Average Read Aloud
This is the scene of an Active Reading Family Workshop, offered at all Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Outreach locations – now with online delivery. This is not your average book read aloud. In this special program offering, children, parents and caregivers participate in this workshop together to learn how to read actively at home. Caregivers learn to read WITH their children, rather than TO their children.
Active Reading is a proven way of reading aloud a picture book that increases language skills and vocabulary. When reading is an interactive experience, children are more apt to participate, and the reading experience is more enjoyable for the parent and child.
The workshops are taught in two one-hour sessions, over the course of two weeks and families learn the “ABCs” of Active Reading: A-Ask Questions, B-Build Vocabulary, and C-Connect to Kid’s Worlds.
A Thoughtful Collaboration
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library collaborated with the reading community initiative, Read Charlotte, in 2017 to develop and offer programs to share Active Reading with the Charlotte community. Read Charlotte was formed in response to reported 2017 testing results that only 39% of Charlotte’s third graders were reading proficiently as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This collaboration is one way we can work to achieve Read Charlotte’s bold goal of doubling the testing results of Charlotte third graders to 80% by 2025. In addition to Active Reading Family Workshops, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers a free one-hour Reading Mentor Training at all regional branches and by request from various organizations in Mecklenburg County. Since 2017, 308 Active Reading Family Workshops have occurred and 214 Reading Mentor Training sessions! 1,787 adults have participated in Active Reading Family Workshops, and 3,136 adults have received Reading Mentor Training. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is committed to improving the literacy rates of children in Mecklenburg County.
Ways to Get Involved
Are you interested in learning about Active Reading? There are several ways to get involved with Active Reading at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Attend an Active Reading Family workshop or a Reading Mentor Training! Access the Library calendar by visiting: http://www.cmlibrary.org/activereading.
Try out Active Reading at home or school with children. Just 15 minutes, three times a week can make a huge difference in a child’s language development and reading ability. If you can’t make it to an online program, an online Active Reading Mentor Training course can be accessed for free at http://bit.ly/ReadingMentorTraining.
Give children the power of Active Reading; it will develop them into lifelong lovers of reading.
Want to learn more about Active Reading?
Please contact the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Active Reading Coordinator, Elyse Berrier, at firstname.lastname@example.org.