Exploring the Literacy Practices of Refugee Families Enrolled in a Book Distribution Program and an Intergenerational Family Literacy Program
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This ethnographic study presents findings of the literacy practices of Burmese refugee families and their interaction with a book distribution program paired with an intergenerational family literacy program. The project was organized at the level of Bronfenbrenner’s exosystem (in Ecology of human development. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1979) to effect a change at the immediate level of the microsytem (i.e., the child’s home life). These two programs–Imagination Library and Storycircles–were organized by the local Literacy Coalition in a Central New York community in the United States in order to assist the refugee families to transition into their new sociocultural context and increase their involvement in the school-based education of their children. Participant observations and interviews with parents and program providers indicated that, while the family literacy practices mostly centered on oral traditions, participation in the two programs led to the familiarity and use of print-based forms of literacy. Additionally, parents reported an interaction with books that were reaching their homes and consciously modeling the shared reading practices demonstrated by the program providers. The linguistic and cultural barriers are discussed in light with the pedagogical implications of the study in finding ways to provide culturally responsive instruction.
KeywordsRefugee Family literacy Book distribution Imagination library
This work was supported by a grant from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation and by individual grants awarded to Sunita Singh and Monica R. Sylvia from Le Moyne College’s Center for Urban and Regional Applied Research.
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