The Family Backpack Project provided 249 low-income, prekindergarten children and their families with opportunities to read and listen to audio recordings of 3 sets of books in their homes. Families received English or dual-language texts (English plus Spanish, Arabic, Kurdish, or Somali) matched to their home languages. Children and their families responded to an open-ended invitation to draw and write about the books in a family response journal. Children, 45% of whom were English learners, were enrolled in 13 public school, prekindergarten classrooms located in urban, Title I schools. They and their teachers received support and professional development for language and literacy instruction through an Early Reading First grant. In their journals, families focused on drawing story characters and scenes, summarizing key story elements, making connections to family life, completing school-like comprehension tasks, practicing conventional writing routines, and creating multimodal responses. Analyses showed that children were co-participants in reading/writing activities where families demonstrated and engaged the child in comprehending and interpreting books. Parents of second-language learners indicated that dual language books supported family book reading and encouraged connections across languages. The open-ended invitation to read and respond encouraged families to connect books to literacy practices and funds of knowledge based in family, community, and school experiences.
Keywords: Book Reading, Family Literacy, Preschoolers, Writing