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Parents and children reading together can improve literacy skills By Julie Slama |

Families pick out books to take home and read together at Midvale Elementary’s Family Literacy Night. (Julie Slama/City Journals)


any Midvale Elementary families may be sitting side by side this summer, reading together and talking about what they read. The dyad, or pair, reading method was introduced to the families at the Family Literacy Night: What is Your Story event, which was held before the end of the school year. Midvale Elementary achievement coach Senja Merrill said this reading strategy is powerful and students learn how to read more quickly. “When you share the book, sitting side by side, track the words and read out loud together,” she said. “The adult reader’s voice may be a little faster and a little louder than

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the student’s and may tend to lead the student in reading, but by using a finger to track the text and having eyes focused on the words, the student will join the adult in time and increase their reading pace.” Another benefit of reading together, Merrill said, is that the adult and student can talk about the text and write down unfamiliar words to look up and learn. The method is proven to help with fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and accuracy, she said. “Whatever language, literacy is literacy and reading with your student is impactful,” she said. “This simple practice will have a huge impact on your students’ reading skills and fluency.” Midvale students could select books that night to take home and keep and again, during the last week of school, more books and literacy activities were distributed to students. Midvale School Community Facilitator Heidi Sanger said that with several events during the school year from parent-teacher conferences to holiday performances, books are available for students. “We want parents to read with kids every night,” Sanger said. “Reading is so powerful. We want them to enjoy reading, to discover and learn.” Part of the fun of the literacy night was

selecting a theme to include everyone. “We like the theme of what is your story because it not only asks what each person’s story is, but it also includes family engagement and sharing stories as a family,” she said. “And all our families come together to create a community, so we learned about our community and their stories.” The Cheney family came to support their children’s literacy efforts. “We didn’t know the dyad approach of reading at the same time with our kids,” Emily Cheney said. “We read with our kids, but it’s good to know a new method.” Her husband, Keith, said that it was good to be reminded about how important literacy is at home. “Literacy is the key to education so it’s always good to have more books at home, readily available,” he said. “We usually have a minute-based reading challenge set in our house, both in English and Spanish.” While first-grader Charlotte may not be as fluent in reading as her fifth-grade-brother Cyrus, who two years ago read 4,000 minutes, including 10 books in Spanish, they both set goals. Charlotte is reading “Peanut Butter and Cupcake” while Cyrus prefers Percy Jackson books. One activity the Cheney and other families were doing was making scrapbooks,

drawing pictures and writing stories to capture memories. The memory books were distributed as another literacy tool, tying into the night’s theme. Families also could contribute a favorite recipe, which were then to be compiled into a Midvale Elementary recipe book to be shared. In addition, there was student book reports and artwork on display, which Beverley Taylor Sorenson art specialist Robyn Munro encouraged the 750 Midvale students to express in their drawing telling their own story. There also were examples of integrating subject matter into the artwork, such as creating colorful geode paintings with watercolors to showcase what students were learning about in science. The theme extended outward to the community as several key area members shared their photos and favorite books to help create a community story. Tyler Library shared upcoming programs and books available for check-out with the families. “We want to be connected with schools, to support their literacy activities and let families know what resources we have available, such as online databases, programs to help with language and research and even homework,” Tyler children’s librarian Melinda Tooley said. l




ndependence Day is a day (and night) to celebrate the birth of our nation. There’s watching parades, enjoying backyard barbecues and, of course, igniting fireworks. Fireworks. There’s lots of them here, especially with July 24, Pioneer Day, also being a holiday where fireworks play a major entertainment role. In makes for month full of blasts, bangs, whizzes, and sparkly colors lighting up the dark. But the joys of fireworks come with risks. To avoid accidents (or even death), here’s a few tips to remember as you and neighbors prepare to celebrate your state and country. • Recent legislation passed in Utah limits the days of the year allowed to light fireworks. Only light fireworks during those days in accordance with the newly passed law. • Check with your city to determine what areas allow fireworks. Cities such as Sandy and Herriman have decreased the areas that permit fireworks. • Know your fireworks. Read cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting. • Don’t get fancy. While it may be tempting to be creative and construct your own fireworks, the results may not be worth it.

• Responsible adults should not only be present, but should supervise closely. Never give fireworks to small children. • Alcohol and fireworks does not make a good cocktail. Save your alcohol for after the show. • Light one firework at a time and don’t linger. Fireworks look just as pretty from 30 feet away as they do from five. • This one may seem obvious, but fireworks should be shot outside, not inside. • Dress appropriately. Loose clothing that can catch fire easily should be left in the drawer, while snugly fitted long sleeves and pants can protect from potential burns. • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby. • Never shoot fireworks into metal or glass containers. The ricochet hurts just as much. • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials. • Don’t forget about your pets. Make sure they are securely indoors and have identification tags in case they do escape during a fireworks display. l




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