4.1 Introduction

It is well-known that parents and caregivers and the home literacy environment they create directly impact a child’s emergent literacy development (Weigel, Martin, & Bennett, 2006; Waldrep, 2005). Beginning at birth, children acquire language and emergent literacy skills within social contexts. The opening vignette demonstrates the beauty of language and literacy development in different homes and family environments. Emergent literacy skills are shaped by the home and preschool literacy environment (Saracho, 2017). Children enter school contexts with a wealth of language and literacy experiences from the home and community contexts they experience. It is important to use a strengths-based perspective when considering the differences in family literacy practices. In doing so, educators guard against deficit perspectives that may privilege some literacy experiences over others. In the opening vignette, it might be easy to conclude that Mallory entered school with vulnerabilities based on family structure and her grandmother’s literacy level. However, Mallory’s family’s rich oral storytelling practices supplied her with a wealth of knowledge about narrative styles including plot, theme, and character development. In addition, Mallory has learned a great deal about how to create dialogue in a way that captures a listener’s attention. Jane’s experiences in a book rich environment also provided her the opportunity to see reading as a source of pleasure. Although Jane and Mallory had very different early experiences, both children entered school with a love and eagerness for literacy. Both educators realized that the workshop had presented an incomplete view about how home environments can support children’s literacy development. Early childhood educators are tasked with the responsibility of celebrating the individuality and strengths of each child and their family. Partnering with families promotes a strong foundation for successful literacy learning. In order to do this, educators must recognize there are many contexts and methods in which families transmit and share in literacy experiences.

Early childhood educators model early literacy practices and involve families when they read aloud to the children as the parents observe.

This chapter will enable each student to:

illustration of a branch  Examine the role of a child’s family in literacy development.

illustration of a branch  Consider the way in which families’ social contexts differ.

illustration of a branch  Develop ways in which early childhood educators can work with families to promote literacy.

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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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