Today’s post is the second in All Our Kin’s “Reading with Providers” series about how the family child care providers in our network promote literacy in their programs. On Tuesday, you learned about Melissa Rivera, an Early Head Start provider whose favorite book is From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle. Today’s post is about Rosella Herrera, a family child care provider from Peru who has been with All Our Kin since 2005.
When discussing literacy, many people are tempted to split children into two groups: those who can already read, and those who can’t. However, early childhood researchers stress that reading is not “an all or nothing phenomenon” : children actually acquire literacy skills from birth onward, and the adults in a child’s life can help promote reading at every developmental stage. Child care providers can support children of different ages in different ways.
Rosella Herrera has been a member of our network since 2005. She tells me that the resources and support she has received from All Our Kin have helped her create strong reading foundations for the children in her program, Virgen de Guadalupe Home Day Care. During the summer months, many of the children in her program are school-aged, and she makes sure that she reads with them multiple times a day; she emphasized that, for young children, it’s incredibly important to develop the love of reading and reading for pleasure. She has developed creative daily routines to get children excited about reading. “In the mornings, we all sit together and read books out loud. Sometimes we make it like a game, where we pass the book in a circle and take turns reading paragraphs. I have a chalkboard that we bring out when we read so that we can write new words down and talk about what they mean.” As the group reads together, Rosella asks them questions to increase their engagement with the story: What is happening? What might happen next? How do the characters feel? She tries to foster a spirit of collaboration amongst the children as they read and learn. “They all support each other with reading,” she said. “If one child makes a mistake, the others will help them out.”
In the afternoons, Rosella takes the children outside to play and read. “The kids all pick books, and we put them in a big bag to bring to the park. Once a child finishes a book, she trades it for another.” She believes that nature and the outdoors should be an important part of her child care program, and she often looks for nature-themed books to connect children to the natural environment in new ways. She showed me a well-loved copy of Grandfather Twilight, the story of a kindly glowing figure who walks through the woods every evening to place the moon in the sky.
Rosella was born in Peru, and she speaks both English and Spanish. Her bookshelves contain a profusion of books in both languages, from Tras las huellas de los dinasaurios (a pop-up book about the dinosaur age) to The Soup Bone (the spooky tale of an old woman searching for a bone to add to her Halloween soup) to Veo, Veo, Que Veo? (a rhyming book for younger readers). “My favorite books are the kids’ favorite books,” she told me. “It’s good to know that they are excited and paying attention.”
Come back on Tuesday to read about the research on pre-literacy and learn strategies for promoting literacy in young children from All Our Kin’s co-founder Janna Wagner.