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Bringing reading strategies home from a family literacy workshop: Two case studies of parents and their children reading together

Marilyn L Antonucci, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In recent years there has been increasing attention to the field of family literacy. A number of qualitative and ethnographic studies (Taylor, 1982; Taylor & Dorsey-Gaines, 1988, Paratore, 1999, 2001 Auerbach E. R., 1989, 1995; Rogers, 2002) have documented the importance of the family in the acquisition of literacy within the context of the home. These two case studies of Denise and Shrieffe address the question of whether and how parents who are introduced to reading strategies in a family literacy program use these strategies in their own home when they read with their children. The use of a qualitative paradigm (Teale, 1986) enabled me, as a family literacy teacher-researcher, to document the home teaching by these two parents and to generate broad questions that would help describe these reading interactions. This study suggests several conclusions. First, a reading intervention designed by a family literacy teacher for parents who are enrolled in a family literacy program needs to take into consideration a parent's personal literacy needs as well as any fabricated literacy support strategies a parent displays when interacting with his/her children while reading. Second, parents not only adopted the reading strategies to use as they read with children at home, but also adapted the strategies, changing them to better meet their own child's literacy needs and stage of literacy development. Third, parents transformed themselves from silent observers of their children's literacy learning to active participants in it, reading with their children and offering them reading support. Fourth, school-based literacy instruction transferred from the school to the homes of the families by the family literacy teacher-researcher, added new understandings to the home literacy environments of both families. Lastly, the role of teacher-researcher required me to attempt to understand complex questions about the intersections of reading and families' lives by using rich qualitative methods of analysis. This study contributes to a further understanding of family literacy reading as a way to help shape parent/child literacy interactions and ultimately, the parent and child's literacy learning. This study also has implications for curriculum design in family literacy programs in the United States. That is, to advocate for a family literacy teacher expanding her role to include responsibilities of modeling literacy strategies and skills in the homes of the parents and children as well as introducing children's literature and other learning materials.

Subject Area

Literacy|Reading instruction|Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Antonucci, Marilyn L, "Bringing reading strategies home from a family literacy workshop: Two case studies of parents and their children reading together" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3173103.