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Preschool Book Clubs Strengthen Family–Teacher Partnerships and Build Community T ® 1, 7 “Mrs. Burton!” cried Mary, mother of 5-year-old Alex, as she approached me in the Child Development Center. I was getting ready to leave for the day, but she had big questions: “When will Alex read fluently?,” “What can I do to captivate his interest in learning?,” and “Why doesn’t he listen to me when I ask him to do something?” “Wow,” I thought. “Each of these topics could take a semester to discuss.” As I listened to the intensity and the longing in Mary’s voice, I realized that she needed some reassurance that she was a good parent and that her son was going to be just fine. I could tell her not to worry, but I was just one voice. Instead, I invited her to attend our parent–teacher book club meeting next week, even if she hadn’t read the book. Mary attended the meeting. Everyone talked freely about their concerns as parents, and they referred to passages in the selected book that really spoke to them. As the meeting continued, the group validated Mary’s feelings and opinions, and she relaxed and enjoyed the discussion. I smiled, knowing she would be back. A study guide for this article is available online at 62 he importance of strong family–teacher partnerships and the power of communities to positively influence child growth and development are values that unite us all in early childhood education. One strategy early childhood programs can adopt that strengthens family–teacher relationships and helps develop a community of learners in which all will flourish is a parent–teacher book club. Strong partnerships between families and teachers are essential for healthy development of young children, and they also benefit parents and teachers. When these partnerships are strong, young children demonstrate enhanced academic achievement, positive attitudes about school, and good work habits (Epstein & Sanders 2006). Partnerships provide support for family members, contributing to their self-esteem, and enabling them to develop their identities (Swick 1993). Teachers gain confidence in their ability to meet the needs of children and work effectively with others. To create and maintain partnerships in which young children thrive, children must be part of real communities where adults genuinely care about them and about one another (Baker & Manfredi/Petitt 2004; Wentworth 2006). Establishing such partnerships, however, can be n Young Children November 2013 © Ellen B. Senisi Lorraine DeJong and Meredith W. Burton

Book Clubs Strengthen Family-Teacher Partnerships and Build Community

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