YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Reading a Crucial Situation : Parents and teachers take part in a council that promotes literacy and discusses new books.

March 19, 1993|R. DANIEL FOSTER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; R. Daniel Foster writes regularly for The Times.

Teri Grossman joined the San Fernando Valley Reading Council five years ago after wondering what kind of reading instruction her children were receiving in school. The council, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is largely composed of teachers who organized to promote literacy and discuss reading methods and new books and materials.

The council operates under the auspices of the California Reading Council and the International Reading Assn.

Valley parents such as Grossman have joined the local organization to keep abreast of book selections and reading methods taught in schools.

"Parents want to know exactly how reading is being taught to their kids," said council Vice President Terry Eaton. "Parents, for instance, may have had lots of phonics when they grew up and wonder if we use that now. Most teachers use a combination of phonics and whole language, which focuses on comprehension and breaks down paragraphs, sentences and words into understandable parts."

The 180-member council, which draws members from private, parochial and public schools, sponsors outreach literacy programs and holds conferences and workshops. Among them is the Young Authors' Conference, to be held March 27 at Campbell Hall School in North Hollywood. Grossman said she joined the council after her daughter, Sarah, 10, attended the 1988 Young Authors' Conference. The one-day program is attended by about 120 selected Valley elementary- and secondary-school children who display and read books they have written in school.

"The conference opened my eyes to the different ways kids can be encouraged to read and write," said Grossman, who lives in Northridge with Sarah; her son, Micha, 14; and her husband, Joel. "The day helps kids to understand that books don't come from a bookstore; they're written by real people."

Teachers as well as parents need to keep current about learning approaches taken by schools, Eaton said. "Some teachers have a tendency to get comfortable in teaching the same way, year after year," she said. "There are always new ways to reach children--especially kids who are hard to teach. Some parents join the council because they can take the same methods taught in school and use them at home."

Council members help with literacy outreach programs and attend various workshops throughout the year, many of which are also open to non-members and are free of charge. Among council projects are these:

* The "Literacy for New Mothers" project donates reading packets, printed both in English and Spanish, to new mothers discharged from area hospitals. The packets contain picture books and instructional pamphlets about the importance of reading to children.

* The "San Fernando Valley Kindergarten Conference," held each January at Cal State Northridge, is a two-day event that educates kindergarten and first-grade teachers about a range of topics, including reading and writing.

* Annual scholarships of $200 are awarded to two council members working toward graduate degrees in reading or library science.

* Local libraries are supported through annual donations of about $200.

* A one-day fall reading conference, to be held in late October, will feature sessions on instructing the difficult-to-teach, using literature with math and science, writing poetry and incorporating science instruction in school and home life. The conference fee is $20.

* An "Educational Swap Shop" will be held June 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Egremont School, 19850 Devonshire St., Chatsworth. Teachers and parents will share learning games, art projects and various language tools.

* A one-day writing and bookmaking workshop will be held the first week in December. Members will learn how to encourage writing and help children construct books for the annual authors' fair.

Where and When Information: The San Fernando Reading Council charges annual membership dues of $20 and is open to teachers, parents, librarians and school administrators. Contact them at P.O. Box 3022, Granada Hills 91394, or phone: 818-882-1678. The Young Authors' Conference, in which area elementary school children read and display books they have written, is free and open to those who wish to observe. It will be held 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 27 at Campbell Hall School, 4533 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. Phone 310-828-5783.

Los Angeles Times Articles