The role of parent-child storybook reading in a sampling of preschool family literacy programs supported by school divisions within a greater metropolitan area

Thumbnail Image
Manness, Darcy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The research documented the existence of preschool family literacy programs supported by school divisions in the Greater Winnipeg Metropolitian Area and studied their design, practices and evaluation procedures. Of particular interest was program emphasis on parent-child storybook reading. Four literacy programs were evaluated. Data, including on-site observations and semi-structured interviews with school administrators, program facilitators and instructors, as well as participating parents, was collected over a two month period from February to April. The resultant information was analyzed according to Nickse's (1991) three-stage heuristic for evaluating family literacy programs. Analysis probed: (1) design characteristics; (2) accountability/evaluation procedures and (3) 19 design features. Findings indicated that there was limited programming devoted to parent-child storybook reading, little inter-agency collaboration between the literacy programs and, although the programs were situated in areas of lowincome, high migrancy and unemployment, many program participants did not appear to fit these descriptors. A major concern was funding instability. Implications for future programming include: (1) increasing the time devoted to parent-child storybook reading; (2) fostering more collaboration between literacy program providers and other social service agency personnel; (3) ensuring the clientelle accessing the literacy programs are those most in need; and (4) providing long-term and consistent funding. Long-term evaluative research that follows the children into school is required to demonstrate the effectiveness of such parent/child preschool literacy programs.