________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 20. . . .January 29, 2010


Getting Dads on Board: Fostering Literacy Partnerships for Successful Student Learning.

Jane Baskwill.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2009.
127 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55138-234-0.

Subject Headings:
Family literacy programs.
Education, Elementary-Parent participation.
Father and child.


Review by Gina Varty.

**** /4


Are fathers an important, yet relatively untapped family literacy resource at your school? Then this book is for you. It is a treasure-trove of strategies and activities to make dads feel more comfortable taking part in their child's learning.

    In six chapters, Jane Baskwill, a former teacher and principal, and currently an Associate Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, walks readers, step-by-step, through how to get and keep dads involved. Each chapter presents different strategies, and each strategy offers tools for teachers and tips and activities to be shared. She also provides reproducible "Dear Dad" letters to encourage participation (with teacher and resource support).

     The book is based on a Canadian Council on Learning project that looks at early literacy practices of dads and their children. To that end, it serves as a launching pad with a safety net as newly involved dads (male adults) can learn what other dads are doing and incorporate the successful strategies into their own connecting times with their children.

     In this book you will meet eleven different dads (pseudonyms are used) and hear their true stories about specific literacy events that they participated in with their children. Each dad talks about a strategy he used and what he learned from this experience. These stories, along with the many stories yet to be told, can help teachers and administrators plan successful programs and activities aimed at getting dads on board.

Here are some highlights from each chapter:

CHAPTER 3 "Dads and Kids Reading Together" -Everyday types of texts from cereal boxes to car games. -Newspaper games, catalogue and flyer activities.

CHAPTER 4 "Writing and Creating Together" -Home writing activities, including journal templates. -Interactive reading ideas, and storyboarding from templates. -Photo storybooks and other types of easy-to-make books.

CHAPTER 5 "Workshops and Take-Home Kits" -Descriptions of projects that have been successfully implemented. -Workshops that can be held with cross-references to activities described in previous chapters. -Creating take-home activity kits (literacy, science, math, themes).

CHAPTER 6 "Further Connecting Classroom and Home" -Getting the community involved. -Book clubs, scavenger hunts and family literacy nights.

     The book concludes with an appendix featuring an annotated listing of books to read aloud to children of all ages, a list of professional resources and a detailed index.

     Throughout this book, subtitled Fostering Literacy Partnerships for Successful Student Learning, Baskwill stresses the importance of working from the strengths dads have. With this resource by your side, you are not only well prepared to encourage dads to take part, but also to inspire them to be key participants in their children's learning as they bond with their children around books and learning, thereby creating a partnership that benefits everyone involved.

Highly Recommended.

Gina Varty is a teacher-librarian at Inglewood Elementary School in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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