I discussed home literacy with the mother of a girl in my freshman English class. As discussed in Edwards (2004), I used open-ended questions which focused on the mother’s memories of reading with her daughter.
“I read to her when she was still in my stomach,” the mother said. “And the best part of that was that she was a captive audience. Now, it’s hard to get her attention. She doesn’t want to read with me. She’d rather be in her room, on the computer.”
I asked her if her daughter was still a big reader.
“Yes,” the mother replied, “but not with me. I’ll buy her books I think she’d like and she doesn’t even open them. She wants to read what her friends are reading. She wants to read junk–books about vampires, stuff like that.”
The mother laughed a little bit and said, “At least she’s reading, right?”
This parent’s story tells me that reading is an activity which is important to her — not only for its educational value, but for its ability to help her connect emotionally with her daughter. The mother appeared frustrated because her daughter is not interested in reading with her anymore or in the books that the mother chooses for her. However, she seems very invested in providing an environment which is conducive to literacy, even if her daughter decides to read independently. I feel that I could help improve the literacy environment at home by helping mother and daughter find common ground with potential reading material, perhaps by having them go through the class reading list together. They could read on their own, as the daughter wants, and then discuss what they’ve read afterwards, thus helping to strengthen their relationship.
References: Edwards, P.A. (2004). Children’s literacy development: Making it happen through