AFT Releases Special Issue of Award-Winning American Educator Magazine Focused on Literacy and Reading Instruction
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers has published a special issue of its quarterly journal, American Educator, devoted to family literacy, covering evidence-based strategies for parents and teachers to help develop kids’ reading skills and address the decline in fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores over the last several years. The journal, which is live online now and will be distributed in print over the next several weeks, features short, family-friendly articles from reading teachers and researchers explaining how families can help their children become confident readers—and develop a love of books. The comprehensive guide tackles reading from all angles, from “Helping Children with Significant Reading Problems,” to “10 Tips for Taking Your Child to the Library,” to “Learning to Read and Write in Two—or More—Languages.”
Also in this issue, AFT President Randi Weingarten outlines five key strategies to address students’ loneliness and learning loss, in addition to the literacy focus. She calls for prioritizing experiential learning, expanding community schools, focusing on mental health and well-being, and fighting for the teachers, support staff and resources students need to recover and succeed.
Weingarten called the issue an important resource for anyone and everyone who cares about kids:
“Whether you’re a classroom teacher, a school psychologist, a pediatrician, a state legislator, or a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, this American Educator will help you connect the research with the practical skills to help any child in your life learn to read well. Developing strong readers happens at home and at school; given how worried parents are about the effects of pandemic-related learning loss, we’re helping them be their kids’ first teachers, plus giving them concrete ways to work with their kids’ classroom teachers to foster the next generation’s love of reading, and to do it with confidence.
“Reading is a foundational skill necessary for virtually everything we do. It opens possibilities for all children to succeed—to learn and grow, to explore and imagine, to investigate and verify, and to lead fulfilling lives. Reading well instills confidence and helps reduce inequities. The disruptions due to the pandemic make focusing on literacy even more important, to not just help our young people catch up but set them up for a lifetime of success too.”
The magazine is the latest component of the AFT’s larger Real Solutions for Kids and Communities campaign, a yearlong effort to reject the toxic attacks against public education in favor of working to strengthen public schools, making real solutions for kids a national priority. Each week, the campaign will highlight new, transformative strategies that can be sustained, integrated and scaled to help children thrive. The union is also continuing its successful Reading Opens the World initiative, which has given away more than 1.5 million books nationwide and is on its way to distributing 2.5 million by July 2024.
As Weingarten explains, the union is committed to helping teachers with reading instruction and navigating the divisive culture wars that make it harder for kids to access books and for educators to do their jobs.
“Amid an alarming rise in efforts to ban and censor books,” Weingarten says, “we want students and teachers to have more opportunities to read books that are both mirrors and windows—titles that reflect students’ own identities and experiences, introduce them to the experiences of others, and inspire them with compelling stories and characters. We also want to improve reading instruction with research-based reading resources and courses that help educators teach reading more effectively.”
To that end, the issue also highlights the AFT’s sponsorship of Reading Universe, an online resource to boost teachers’ expertise when it comes to teaching reading. Weingarten says the partnership will be a lifeline for educators at every level:
“Learning to read is a challenge we want all children to meet—and both family support and teacher expertise are essential. So we’re proud to sponsor Reading Universe, which offers ready-to-use strategies, printable instructional materials, tutorials, real classroom videos, interviews with expert educators, and much more. Part of ensuring our kids learn to read well is helping our teachers teach reading well.”
The AFT has printed 100,000 additional copies of this issue of American Educator and will work with family and community organizations, libraries, medical and wellness professionals, and others to ensure it is distributed widely. To request a print copy or for reprint permissions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.