No Limits to Literacy Book Review

booksI stumbled across this fantastic book recently: No Limits to Literacy for Preschool English Learners by Theresa A. Roberts.  I have always been passionate about two things, teaching young children and working with English language learners so this book really jumped out at me.  I thought I would share some of the highlights with you here.  You can also read the first 46 pages on-line for free at Google Books

I was most interested in chapters 3-5, the meaty literacy parts, so those are the ones I will be reviewing here.   The third chapter was the one I was looking forward to the most because I would like to increase vocabulary in our pre-k students.  The author’s main ideas in this chapter were:

  • Create situations in your classroom that will help your English language learners take risks with oral language such as choral responses, repetition activities, talking in pairs, and small groups.
  • Be a good speaking role model for your students.  Get rid of the twangy accents and slang expressions! 
  • Embed language throughout your day in areas like blocks, science, dramatic play, library etc. 
  • Provide opportunities for children to say the words they are learning out loud many times.
  • Explicitly teach vocabulary EVERY DAY.
  • Identify and teach 12-15 new words per week.
  • Use pictures, hand motions, and concrete realia when teaching words.
  • Carefully select words that benefit children’s basic language and words related to storybooks, classroom themes, and centers. 
  • Reread books

In chapter four, Befriending the Alphabet: Why and How, the author addresses the age old argument of how to teach the alphabet to young children.  Her points on this issue were:

  • Use strategies and activities designed to help children make the connection between letter shapes and their names/sounds.
  • Make sure your lessons are engaging and meaningful
  • Use student names as a context for helping children learn aobut individual letters. 
  • Use environmental print to connect to letters in a meaningful way
  • Provide writing opportunities where children are encouraged to to apply their alphabet knowledge.
  • Create a purposeful print rich classroom and embed print in learning centers and play activities.

Chapter five addresses phonological awareness which is often the “missing link” in many pre-k classrooms.  The important points about phonological awareness were:

  • Begin with the easier tasks like whole words and syllables before onset-rime and rhyming.
  • Focus on the sounds at the beginning of the word before teaching the sounds at the end of the word.
  • Select short words for phonological awareness activities (CVC words) with the exception of syllabication activities that require longer words.
  • Provide pictures that show how sounds are made with the lips, tongue, teeth, throat etc and mirrors to use during phonological awareness activities. 
  • Teach beginning sounds before rhyming – rhyming can be difficult in pre-k.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this book or the author’s points above.


One Response

  1. Thank you for the reference! I have lots of preschool English Language Learners each year, and I think this book could be extremely helpful.

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