When it comes to the literacy status of children, University Distinguished Professor Patricia Edwards stresses the importance of reading within the family.
“One of the things I have focused on a lot is parental responsibility,” Edwards said. “We need to help parents have an understanding of the kinds of things they can be doing prior to their kids coming to school. While some people say the teacher is the paid teacher, the first teacher is the family.”
Currently serving as president-elect for the International Reading Association and teaching for the College of Education, Edwards has developed two nationally acclaimed family literacy programs, “Parents and Partners in Reading” and “Talking Your Way to Literacy.”
She recognizes some parents cannot read and in turn may not feel able teaching their children to read. But through her programs, Edwards has not only urged parents to read to their children, but also to talk about books with their children to improve literacy.
“To me, reading and literacy takes you places where you would not be able to go. More families need to understand that, when you read to a child, it’s not just for entertainment; it’s actually giving the child the tools of literacy,” Edwards said.