Family Literacy Night Cultivates Love of Reading in Nashville Community
By Elizabeth Donlon, Ph.D.
The Literacy Center at Aquinas College hosted the first Family Literacy Night on February 11, 2020. The theme for the night was “Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables, oh my!” The Family Literacy Night included 39 students from local Catholic schools, as well as their parents.
Twelve literacy stations were set up around the room in Breen Hall, led by 22 volunteers, including local Catholic school teachers (many of whom are alumni of Aquinas) as well as Aquinas teacher candidates. The evening began with an introduction by Sister Cecilia Anne Wanner, O.P., President of Aquinas College, and a prayer by Sister Mary Rachel Capets, O.P., Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education.
Then, the leaders of each literacy station described the activities available for the students and their families, including: read-aloud of The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett; animal mask making; Aesop’s Fables shadow puppets; comparison of two versions of Little Red Riding Hood; dramatization of a folktale; read-aloud of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; comparison of versions of Cinderella; readers theater activity; fables with felt; fairy tales in Spanish; read-aloud tips for parents; and a fairy tale storytelling game.
There is a quote from Flannery O’Connor about the power of story: “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” The Family Literacy Night was an opportunity for local families to take a break from their busy schedules and simply enjoy stories together. The families had the opportunity to rotate around the stations and engage in the various fairy tales, folk tales, and fables. The energy in the room was exciting as students were participating in all aspects of literacy: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
A special treasure of the evening was that each child got to bring home a book from the book table. Books that children took home included beloved titles such as The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado. There were books available for parents to take home as well, to aid in reading to their children at home, such as The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Parents were also able to take home resources such as tips for reading both nonfiction and fiction books with their children.
The mission of the Literacy Center, an initiative of the Aquinas College School of Education, is to engage teacher candidates in literacy instruction best practices by offering programs such as: 1) Family Literacy Night, 2) Summer Book Club, and 3) Literacy Tutoring and Assessment. The Summer Book Club will begin in June 2020 and Literacy Tutoring and Assessment will begin in Fall 2020.