Family Literacy Month book list for all ages

Family Literacy Month Book List

Gone are the days when we thought of elementary school as the place where kids learn to read. While they may perfect the skill there, the groundwork is laid in the years before school. This is the basic idea of family literacy. What we do at home, in those formative years, creates the framework for our children’s future reading success.

As we learn more and more about the reading habit, we’re also discovering that it’s never too early to start. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests reading to infants. And there’s no need to stop when kids can read on their own. Jim Trelease, author of the Read Aloud Handbook, suggests a whole range of reasons why you should keep the read-aloud habit going into middle school. So  check out some of these read-aloud superstars for all ages! Read More »


September 22 is National Dear Diary Day!

National Dear Diary Day

It’s not just little brothers who like to get a peek into someone’s diary. The diary can make compelling reading for anyone. And because September 22 is National Dear Diary Day, it’s a great time to give one a try. From the 17th century historical insights brought to us by the diary of Samuel Pepys to the true-to-life thoughts of young Anne Frank in the midst of the Holocaust, we see directly through another person’s eyes in a diary. Read More »


What students wish their parents knew about school

Mother and Daughter Talking about School

It’s September and your middle school or high school student is back in classes. Another year means another great opportunity for them — and for you – to get better.

In my years as an educator, my students helped me compile a list of their wishes, those things they most wish their parents would say and do to support them in school. I used to share them with parents at back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences, and they are things I’ve tried to keep in mind with my own teenager. While some of them aren’t practical (“I wish my parents wouldn’t make me do my homework” comes up a lot), here are five you might find interesting and helpful as you negotiate a new school year with your teens. Read More »


Talking about school with your child:  8 ways to foster positive communication

Talking with children about school

Many parents are familiar with this scenario – they ask their children how their day was at school, and the only response they get is “good.”  While it’s so important for parents to talk to their children about school, many parents struggle to establish positive communication.

As the Family Access and Engagement Coordinator at the Lawrence Full Service Community School in Holyoke, I spend a lot of time working with parents and their children. My goal is to engage all parents in their children’s education, which in turn helps students do better in school.

One of our most successful programs are Parent Cafés. During Parent Cafés, we teach participants how to communicate positively with their young children and share personal experiences about school. Read More »


Happy National Ampersand Day! No, really.

national ampersand day

September 8 is National Ampersand Day. The humble ampersand is an often overlooked fragment of the English language, even though its appearance actually derives from the Latin word “Et” meaning “and.” It’s clear if you think of the shape as a big, flowing capital “E” merged with a little “t.”

In fact, the name for this handy curlicue – which was originally called the “per se and,” meaning “and itself” – is a testimony to the importance it once held in English literacy. We think of it as informal today, but it was once a formal part of the alphabet. (Thomas Jefferson used it in the Declaration of Independence, after all.) Back in Noah Webster’s day, school children reciting the ABCs would finish with “W,X,Y,Z, and per se and.” Shortening and slurring through rote performance made “and per se and” into “ampersand,” a name that has stuck with us ever since. Read More »