Friday, September 9, 2011

Partnering With Parents - Week 1

This week is the first of a series of guest posts about partnering with parents that we'll be hosting here at Teach Mentor Texts. Kellee and I are ecstatic to get some ideas for our own teaching as well as to share ideas from some of our most respected colleagues with you. Today's guest post comes from Mindi Rench, a 7th grade English teacher who loves books! (I know, duh! Of course she loves books...) She blogs at Next Best Book. Welcome Mindi and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

As a teacher, I have to read a wide variety of books written for children and teens. As a parent, I want to read the books my daughters read so I can have conversations with them about books. As a “grown-up” who reads (a lot!), I love the great writing that can be found in young adult books!

Parents are their kids’ first teachers, and as such, have a great deal of influence when it comes to encouraging kids to read. Even though parents may feel their influence lessens as their children become teens and grow more independent, the reverse may actually be true. The teen years can be the perfect time to talk books; in fact, talking about a shared book can actually open the door to conversations teens might otherwise be reluctant to have.

So... how can you get parents to read, if not TO their children, then WITH them? Show them first hand how great these books can be:

  • If you have a classroom website, include a page with recommended reading. Include pictures of book covers and a short summary of the book to entice the parents to pick it up at their local book store or library. If you’re really tech-savvy, make videos of yourself doing book talks that parents can watch.
  • Include a “Book of the Week” in your weekly newsletters.
  • Utilize the new features of the Scholastic Book Clubs. The Online Parent Ordering feature allows teachers to mark books as “Recommended by your teacher.” Not only will parents be able to get great books that you recommend, but you will be able to enhance your classroom library with free books and bonus points.
  • Start your own book blog. This is much easier than it sounds, using a free blogging service. The hardest part is making yourself sit down and write the reviews. If you’re not sure where to start, read blogs written by other teachers, and take what you like about their blogs and incorporate those things into your own. Provide parents with the link to your blog! Take a look at my blog to see what’s possible if you just put yourself out there.
  • Talk books! Whenever and wherever you can, talk about the books you’ve read and loved and think parents would enjoy reading. The power of word-of-mouth should never be underestimated.
Luckily for us, the stigma attached to adults reading children’s and young adult literature is disappearing. More and more you see people on the train or at the library reading titles such as The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter books. Not only are those moms, dads, aunts, cousins, Scout leaders and teachers models of great reading, they are also inspiration to the kids whose lives they touch.

Read on!

Seventh Graders Recommend Books!

Thanks again Mindi for sharing some of your ideas. I know I am going to be trying to do more vlogs this year of my own and with my students. I can't wait! Stop back next week for more ideas for partnering with parents.


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