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Another Success: Literacy Night at Whittier Dual Language School

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Fall 2008 Whittier School Family Literacy Night A Great Success!

Our fall 2008 Whittier School Family Literacy Night (K-3) was a big success! The purpose of the evening was to motivate students and their families to enjoy reading and to recognize the importance of home reading, right from the start of the school year. What distinguished this literacy night was a focus on Day of the Dead as well as increased student participation during the performance part of the program compared to past family literacy nights. This made the evening even more enjoyable and enriching. The evening consisted of three parts as it has for the past three years: (1) storytelling and performance (2) student activity/teacher-parent workshop (3) family reading in the classrooms.

To the joy of parents, teachers, students, and all present, Susana Aguilar and the students in her after-school art class performed a humorous and meaningful presentation of a Day of the Dead story. Dressed in traditional Mexican clothing, Susana recited the story and the students repeated and recited certain lines. The students, also dressed to role, dramatized freely and danced along to the story line, some as muertos and others as living family members.

In addition, students from Maria Catalan’s third grade class sang “Los muertos salen a bailar”. They sang beautifully and sang together, as one voice.

During the second part of the program the students decorated and created Day of the Dead skull masks while the teachers met with the parents according to grade level. In the parent/teacher workshop sessions, the parents were invited to share their own stories as a follow-up to the story-telling performance. The teachers suggested that the parents tell their stories to their children and pointed out that this was a helpful home literacy activity and of great value to their children. The teachers talked about the importance of home reading and modeled and discussed various ways for parents to read with their children.

Each student who attended Family Literacy Night received a free book. As in the past, in the days leading up to Family Literacy Night there was much anticipation among the students about the new book they would receive. The students were not disappointed as they chose from an array of popular titles in Spanish and English. The books and the other expenses for the evening were paid for by Whittier School’s Reading First grant.

During the third part of the program, the students and their families read together, ate cookies, and drank juice in the comfortable environment of the students’ classrooms. The teachers were present to welcome the parents and students to the classrooms, talk to the parents about home literacy and to read with the students and their families. All of the Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers worked hard before and during Family Literacy Night to make the evening the success it was.

Our fall Family Literacy Night was an important part of beginning-of-the-year literacy activities that portend a year of happy reading and much learning—at home and at school!

by Howard Emmer – Whittier Dual Language School Literacy Coach

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