Digi Know? Engaging Families with eBooks

As the holidays approach, it's the perfect time to think about how we can support our learning community by increasing family engagement—and how we can use eBooks to enhance those efforts. It doesn't have to take a lot of extra work but the time you invest will bring huge dividends when you begin to partner with parents/guardians. It is also incredibly rewarding.

Family book clubs were a favorite of mine. Each quarter, I would hold an after-school or evening parent-child book club. First quarter was mothers and daughters; second quarter was fathers and sons; then mothers and sons; and finally fathers and daughters. We met every other week and had a blast. They chose the books, I purchased the snacks, and we read, discussed, and enjoyed learning from and with each other. Today, I would use a free video-conferencing app like Google Hangouts or Zoom and offer the program virtually for those not able to attend in person.

You can also put together family engagement reading packs, which can be digital or print-based. Choose a book for the family to read together and then pair it with a board game for children to borrow. A version of Jack and the Beanstalk pairs well with Chutes and Ladders. Pair Bad Kitty books with Trouble and Nate the Great or Mystery A-Z with Clue Jr. Better yet, start a collection of student-made board games by having small groups read a book together and then create a game based on the book to add to your reading pack collection. Older kids could create a digital game that lives on your website paired with a digital book. Imagine if you had older students read biographies and collectively create a trivia game based on historical figures. Once you build your collection, you can have a literature-based family game event to publicize it and encourage its use.

You may also want to consider parent workshops. You have so many digital resources parents could be accessing at home. They just need some help learning how to access them and would love strategies for using them with their children. If workshops aren't possible consider a video newsletter that includes a short tutorial on accessing a digital resource or your eBooks each month. Just remember that you are the bridge for our students between school and home so finding ways to engage is your responsibility. When you add some fun, games, and enjoyment into the process we all win!

About the Author

Doreen Bergman, MSLIS, is the School Library System Director for the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES. She holds New York state certifications in the areas of educational administration, childhood education, and school media. She received her master’s degree from Syracuse University and was both an elementary and high school librarian as well as a classroom teacher. Her priority is to empower and support school librarians as educational leaders and collaborative co-teachers so that their library programs continue to positively impact student learning and achievement.

Entry ID: 2230119

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