Jan 09, 2017

Parents are the first and most important teachers in a child’s life. A local initiative is giving them the skills they need to provide their preschooler with a foundation for later reading success.

Grant Wood Area Education Agency has established home library sets called Read to Me! Talk to Me!. The purpose is to bring the latest research in literacy education into the homes of Eastern Iowa preschoolers.

“Reading with a child is so important in helping to increase a child’s oral language and foundational literacy skills,” said Kim Smith, GWAEA speech-language pathologist. “But there are also some very easy reading prompts parents can use to help children build skills even further during story time.”

The Read to Me! Talk to Me! program builds upon the positives of sharing a reading experience with a child and expands the opportunities for learning. The program starts by providing preschool teachers with a set of books that include customized prompt cards to promote foundational language skills like vocabulary, oral language, and early print knowledge. These books and prompt cards are sent home with preschool students so they can be used at home.

“I think parents might be surprised at how easy it is to ask questions before, during and after reading to help elicit conversation and boost learning,” says Alaina Daters, GWAEA curriculum consultant.

GWAEA Preschool teacher and Emergent Literacy SPEL team members deliver a home library set


GWAEA Preschool teacher and Emergent Literacy SPEL team members deliver a home library set.
Back: Connie Cranny, Kim Smith, Deb Robins, Christy Yetley.
Front: Kathy Curphey, Alaina Daters. Not Pictured: Donna Claflin


Grant Wood AEA’s Emergent Literacy Team researched and created the prompt cards specifically for the books included in the Read to Me! Talk to Me! Book sets. The books were purchased with grant funding from the Wal-Mart and Alliant Energy Foundations, and staff compiled the kits. The sets were distributed to public preschools in the districts within the Grant Wood AEA service area.

The work is a natural extension for these seven Grant Wood AEA staff members who are Emergent Literacy Consultants with the agency. They spend their working hours alongside teachers and administrators in school districts in a seven-county area, to accelerate pre-reading and language skills for students identified with special education needs. This initiative, in its third year, has helped place books in the hands of Eastern Iowa students. During the 2016-17 school year, GWAEA staff has assembled 19 sets of 55 books that were distributed to College Community, Monticello, Mid-Prairie, Belle Plaine, HLV, Iowa City, Washington and Alburnett school districts.


Sara Blake, Christy Yetley

Sara Blake,
Christy Yetley


Shelby Patterson, teacher, Alburnett

Shelby Patterson, teacher, Alburnett


Angie McLean, Iowa City preschool teacher

Angie McLean, Iowa City preschool teacher

“This has been an ongoing initiative,” said Kim. “With this latest distribution, more than 500 additional preschool children are able to take books home to read with their families. We’re so excited at this opportunity to help take the reading experience to a higher level for even more children.”

Category: News