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“Joyful Literacy” Supports Evidence-Based Practices

Sacramento County READS Initiative Working to Improve Literacy

Seated training participants reading

Training sessions have reached more than 350 educators so far. A three-day Joyful Literacy Institute is planned for this summer.

Sacramento County READS, a Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) literacy initiative, is investing in the development and implementation of collaborative systems of teaching and learning, partnerships, programs, and support services–all grounded in the science of reading–that promote reading and literacy success for all learners. The goal is for all learners in Sacramento County to meet reading and literacy milestones and become proficient readers.

As part of the initiative, SCOE has been working with WestEd and the Regional Educational Laboratory Program to conduct “Joyful Literacy” training. Joyful Literacy is an evidence-based approach to supporting literacy development. It involves culturally and linguistically sustaining practices that build on a child’s experiences and background, valuing culture and language to maximize learning. Joyful Literacy also involves a whole-child approach that places importance on equitable access to safe, welcoming, and high-quality learning environments and positive experiences. The approach integrates social-emotional learning strategies and creative expression activities with evidence-based early literacy practices.

Eight training sessions have been conducted so far with more than 350 educators participating. The sessions highlighted social and emotional aspects that affect learning and underscored the importance of culturally affirming books, building oral language, and integrating playful learning. A three-day Joyful Literacy Institute is planned for this summer. The training will be listed in SCOE’s Professional Learning Registration System.

“This collaboration supports our desire to create a common language around early literacy that is truly joyful, reaching a broad range of educators and families to bring the love of reading to the full continuum of our young learners,” said Julie Montali, Ph.D., Executive Director of the SCOE Early Learning Department. “Joyful Literacy is a wonderful example of how we can integrate social, emotional, culturally responsive, and creative approaches with our knowledge of the science of reading.”

Training participants learned how they can use Joyful Literacy techniques to help children develop language, literacy, and critical thinking skills. They also learned ways to make literacy creative, evoke feelings of joy, and cultivate a sense of belonging in school. A wide variety of classroom teachers, coaches, after-school staff, summer school staff, and other educators have participated, reporting that they felt inspired and excited to implement the techniques they’d learned.

Joyful Literacy Resources for Educators

People writing on larger paper on a classroom wall
Participants posing in silly hats
Group of participants posing in silly hats