By Samantha McGinnis, First Book
(This was originally posted to the First Book blog.)
Welcome to First Book’s celebrity blog series. Each month we will be connecting with influential voices who share a belief in the power of literacy, and who have worked with First Book to curate a unique collection that inspires a love of reading and learning. All recommended books are available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need.
This month we hear from Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. the Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) on engaging Latino families and children in reading and learning.
Any student who has parents that understand the journey from preschool to college is better equipped to navigate the road to long-term student success. While parent engagement is critical to increasing educational attainment for all children, engaging Latino parents in their children’s schooling has typically been challenging – often for linguistic and cultural reasons.
The National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) parent engagement program is designed to eliminate these challenges and create strong connections between schools, parents, and their children. A bilingual curriculum designed to be administered by school staff, the Padres Comprometidos program empowers Latino parents who haven’t typically been connected to their children’s school. Many of the parents the program reaches are low-income, Spanish-speaking, first and second generation immigrants. Through Padres Comprometidos, these parents gain a deeper understanding of what the journey to academic success will be like, and how they can play a role in preparing their children for higher education. Prior to participating in the program, not all parents expected their children to attend college. After the program, 100 percent of parents indicated that they expected their children to attend college.
Much of Padres Comprometidos success rests on the program’s ability to address language and culture as assets, rather than as obstacles to be overcome. This asset building strategy extends to NCLR’s partnership with First Book. Together, we’re working to ensure Latino children of all ages have access to books that are culturally and linguistically relevant, books they need to become enthusiastic readers inside and outside of the classroom. Click here to access the three parent engagement curricula developed by NCLR—tailored to parents of preschool, elementary and secondary school students.
Below you will find a few tips and titles that can help you engage families and get children – and their parents and caregivers – reading and learning.
1. Find ways to connect stories that parents know about to help them engage in reading and conversation with their children. This Mexican folktale can open that door. La Llorona
2. Keep an English/Spanish dictionary handy to use when you have a parent visiting or to give away to a parent or caregiver who needs it. It will show them that you’re making an effort to engage in their language of comfort. Webster’s Everyday Spanish-English Dictionary
3. Learn about the children you serve and their heritage, and identify books that will affirm them. This Pura Belpré award winner is actually about Pura Belpré, the first Latina (Puerto Rican) to head a public library system. La Velita de los Cuentos
4. Share books that include some of the everyday experiences of the children and neighborhoods you serve, like this story highlighting the value of community and family. Grandma and Me at the Flea
5. Bilingual books provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to read the same books their children are reading, but in their language of comfort. Families will love reading about all the colors of the rainbow in English and Spanish. My Colors, My World
Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).