By: Eric Litwin
I am a former classroom teacher. And, when I write I still think like a teacher.
My interest in early literacy began as a teacher working with elementary-aged special needs students. I quickly realized that reading was at the heart of learning; and, that reading was the common denominator of nearly every subject.
But many of my students did not enjoy reading. And many were already far behind in their reading skills.
One day, I walked past a kindergarten classroom and heard the teacher ask her students, “who would like to read a book?” The children cheered with delight. I watched four kids rush to a little beanbag couch with their favorite books in hand. Another little girl was hugging her book like a teddy bear. They LOVED reading and books!
A few halls down, in my third grade class, I asked the same question. But this time there was no cheering. Some students were happy to read. Others students were neutral and showed no emotion. And some of my students looked bored and nervous.
I remember this moment so clearly. I felt sad that so many of my students where either neutral or negative about reading.
I asked myself a simple question. What happened between kindergarten and third grade that so many of my students no longer loved reading and books?
I wanted to find an answer to this question. It became my focus and remains so to this day as a professional writer and presenter. I began bringing my guitar to the classroom every day. I used music and interactivity in my instruction and developed a unique musical approach to early literacy.
I discovered that when you add multisensory techniques (music, movement, etc.) to traditional reading techniques, such as site words and phonetics, that amazing things happen. Children who could not read successfully were now able to read the books independently. This is because it gives more ways for students to understand the words and story. And their happiness was extraordinary, as was their parents.
This why all my books include music and movement, call and response, repetition, rhythm, and rhyme. I call this method the Multi-Learning Approach.
This approach has now helped thousands and thousands of children learn to read and love books. When I hear and see that my original four Pete the Cat books (I Love My White Shoes, Rocking in My School Shoes, His Four Groovy Buttons, Saves Christmas) and The Nuts and Groovy Joe are helping students learn to read it makes me very happy. It is what the classroom teacher dreamed about many years ago.
I will continue to write books that utilize a Multi-Learning Approach. My newest book is called Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs. And The Nuts, Keep Rolling comes out Spring 2017! I will continue to think about and share progressive ideas on how we can approach early literacy.
Please check out my website at www.ericlitwin.com and join me on social media and we can explore early literacy together.