Hamster Teaches Literacy --A True Story

Jim Giles

Literacy has become a priority in Ontario schools: uninterrupted literacy blocks are now part of the daily timetable in many primary and junior classrooms. But for literacy to genuinely flourish, parents and educators must provide the conditions and support that sustain children’s interests and needs.

Literacy experts emphasize the  importance  of meaningful  experiences  to  support  children’s reading  and  writing.  David  Booth,  Canada’s internationally recognized literacy guru, states:  “childrenneed to read and write frequently for auth entic reasons as they come to realize that being an efficientreader and an effective writecontributes to their communication success and personal satisfactions,and gives them control ov er their lives.1″

Educator and academic, Alfie Kohn concurs: “ Children are people who have lives and interests outsideof school, who walk into the classroom with their own perspectives, points of view, wayof makingsense of the world and formulating meaning.  What we teach and how we teach must ta ke account ofthese realities.2″

Booth  further  emphasizes  the  importance of  authentic  needs and  interests, especially in encouraging  reluctant  male  readers.  In   EveHockey Players Read  Boys, Literacy and Learning,



Teachers working together in groups

Ben arrived in September with a huge grin on his face. He was ready for grade 1! Ben was articulate and knowledgeable, an engaged learner.

Parents with child looking at the child's work

Joyce Public School is located in northwest Toronto, in an unprepossessing one-storey brick building.