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Notes from the Backpack Podcast


Family Reading Experience

Training for Travelling the Diverse World of Reading

As a PTA leader, you’re tasked with a lot, juggling a little bit of everything. We appreciate your leadership!

We’ve gathered a treasure trove of gems to help you continue to provide helpful tips, fun activities and inclusive resources to support families as they travel the diverse world of reading.

From school-wide events to library evaluations, book lists and challenges, we are proud to offer tools that inspire and increase access to books that will advance reading confidence in our school communities.

Books



Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


National PTA acknowledges the work it must do to ensure equitable educational opportunities in its school environments, among its membership, and within its own walls. A diverse, equitable and inclusive PTA community is a strength, and the sharing of collective perspectives through literature will grow stronger readers and civic members and support systemic change.

Evaluate your own efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as PTA leaders by incorporating the below principles into your routine literary work:

Diversity

Build upon the wide range of perspectives brought to your table.

  • Seek input from parents, caregivers and educators
  • Make a habit of regularly reevaluating your program partners
  • Enlist the help of community members
  • Include stories that reflect a wide range of experiences: invite guest readers or storytellers who celebrate the oral tradition
  • Incorporate contemporary diverse books that celebrate joyful experiences
Equity

Ensure fairness in resources, opportunities and outcomes for their community members.

  • Be mindful of power dynamics
  • Invite all stakeholders to the table
  • Remember that fairness will not necessarily mean equality
  • Consider making a special effort to secure titles in multiple languages.
  • Consider hiring interpreters for community literacy events
Inclusion

Create a welcoming environment and ensure an even sharing of power and equal access to resources and opportunities.

  • Be mindful of literacy levels and potential language barriers
  • Center and celebrate books that encourage empathy, compassion, global awareness and understanding
  • Seek out multicultural children’s literature
  • Evaluate such texts for honest, accurate, and respectful depictions
  • Highlight authors and illustrators who write from their own lived experiences
  • Support assessments of classroom and library collections within your community


Guides to Help You and Your PTA Create Global Citizens

Reading books about different people, places and experiences is critical to healthy child development and should be a priority particularly in early literacy. These materials are designed to help your PTA discuss the importance of inclusive reading and to support your school community through the process of selecting thoughtful and diverse reading choices.

Two Steps to Get Started

Share our Understanding and Committing to Equity document with your PTA board members and reflect on previous PTA reading events. Identify your PTA’s strengths and where you would like to improve.


Pick the resources below that you would like to use as you plan your program year.

Remember that you do not need to use every resource listed below to make an impact.


Resources

Connecting Families with Inclusive Books


For many caregivers, your PTA’s outreach will be their first conversations about why and how diverse books play an important role in every child’s life. A Family Guide to Selecting Diverse Books outlines five major goals of inclusive reading and includes both general and specific suggestions of books that meet each goal’s criteria and purpose. The goals address specific targets, and common book pitfalls, to help caregivers grow in their ability to evaluate the quality and impact of a selected book.

PTA Leaders Can:
  1. Share A Family Guide to Selecting Diverse Books with families in an email, on your social media or by printing copies to leave behind in your public library, school library and local bookstores.
  2. Take it the next step by setting community goals. Introduce one goal each month and challenge families to share the books they are discovering with you.

Advocating for Your Library’s and Student’s Needs


School libraries are not created equal. Resources can differ within a school district and even more so among districts statewide. School library facilities may open or close, staffing within them may change, and classroom collections can grow or vanish. A caregivers' understanding of each element at play in their child’s school reading life will support their personal growth, and their advocacy can serve the greater student community. Advocating for Your Library's and Student's Needs helps you assess resources in your school, with a few suggestions from there on how to advocate for your library (and librarian) in the wider community.

PTA Leaders Can:
  1. Use Advocating for Your Library's and Student's Needs to ask questions about the library resources available to students within your school community.
  2. Share the information you learn, including what would be helpful for other caretakers to know so that their families and students can best take advantage of the resources your school offers.
  3. Identify gaps and make a plan for your PTA to advocate for specific resources that will benefit your full community.

Activities and Book Lists to Help Grow Global Citizens


What’s on Your Bookshelf?

The What's on Your Bookshelf activity helps caregivers critically evaluate their book collections and family reading habits by asking the user to identify how often the books they share as a family contain specific story elements, characters and themes.

Family Reading Challenge

Encourage your school community to expand their reading selection through a challenge! As families complete this Family Reading Challenge activity they will use prompts to discover new books and color in a bookshelf to track their progress. Make sure families share their completed bookshelves with you!

Booklists

Check out Using Book Awards to Guide Your Reading Selection and Go Around the World With A Book for ideas on where to look for new books, with some pre-selected options to help get you started.



Family Reading a Book

Family Reading on a Laptop

Father and Daughter Reading

In-Person Family Reading Experience Toolkit


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Family Reading Experience Toolkit helped PTAs facilitate in-person gatherings. We are preserving this toolkit below, and we hope to resume use of it with refreshed materials when the Center for Disease Control advises that conditions are safe for group gatherings to resume.

Engage families in reading fun at your school by hosting a PTA Family Reading Experience using our Experience Guide. This guide is organized into 5 steps with links to materials and sample templates you can customize for your own PTA and school. 

Step 1: Plan Your Family Reading Experience

Connect with school administrators, community members, librarians and school literacy specialists to discuss the objectives for this event as well as logistics (e.g. location, date, time, promotion, etc.). Reach out to community businesses to secure food/prize donations. Consider using the reading activities from Reading is Fundamental (RIF) or the additional activity resources provided.

  • Visit RIF’s customized PTA portal at www.rif.org/pta. This site contains free recommended book lists and interactive activities for each book title.
  • Review the RIF book list for your grade band K-2 or 3-5.
  • Choose a book (or books) from the provided list to showcase during your Family Reading Experience.
  • Discuss the expected size of your event and how many copies of the book will be needed.
    • Explore ways to obtain books or book sets (e.g. local library, RIF discounted books offered at $3/book via RIF's PTA portal - allow up to 4 weeks for shipping).
    • Explore ways to provide whole/small group read-alouds with fewer books.
  • Familiarize yourself with the free book extension activities from RIF’s PTA portal, that accompany your book selection(s) or use these ideas to create new activities.
Step 2: Recruit Volunteers

Recruit your PTA Family Reading Experience Team, including teachers and school librarians. Assign volunteer roles and gather event materials. Consider partnering with a local High School or business for non-PTA volunteers so your families can take part in the event.

  • Suggested Volunteer Roles
    • 2 to promote your event
    • 1 to secure food/drinks and prizes for the event
    • 2 to set up the event and clean up the event
    • 1 to greet and thank families as they enter and exit the event
    • 3-4 to secure books, choose activities for each book, facilitate book read-alouds and facilitate activity stations
    • 1 to take pictures and post to social media (#PTA Proud)
Step 3: Promote Your Family Reading Experience


Use these customizable flyers and templates to promote your event for students, families and community members.

Step 4: Host Your Event
  • Before the Event
    • Make a welcome sign (in multiple languages if applicable) prior to the event.
    • Gather books, set up activity stations and print activities prior to the event.
  • During the Event
    • Welcome families upon arrival, encourage them to sign in and join the PTA.
    • Facilitate read-alouds and activity stations.
    • Take plenty of pictures to share!
    • Use the Be a Reading Champion tip sheet (en español) when reading aloud and print copies for families to take home.
  • After the Event
    • Closing: Thank families for attending and volunteers for their amazing work!
    • Clean-Up
Step 5: Wrap Up


Sponsors

Office Depot

Collaborators

Lee & Low Books



Questions?

Email Programs@PTA.org or call (800) 307-4782.