Zoom Ahead with Books Programme

Zoom Ahead with Books

Programme Supporting the home learning environment

Brigina O’Riordain

National College of Ireland, 2019

You can find this text as a pdf here: MLM Zoom Ahead with Books - promoting home learning

By using and creating dual language (home language and L2) texts, children can develop literacy skills in both their home language and the language of instruction.  These ‘plurilingual’ approaches increase children’s language awareness, so using many languages can be a positive learning experience for all (Catibusic-Finnegan, Bronagh, 2017)


Recognizing children’s home languages is an important aspect of intercultural education. Educators should encourage migrant parents to maintain their home languages and enable families to support their children’s vocabulary development through meaningful conversations, story-telling, reading, and play. Children’s linguistic and cultural identities should be affirmed by creating inclusive environments, where words in all languages become foundations for learning. (Catibusic-Finnegan, Bronagh, 2017)


The Zoom Ahead with Booksprogramme is designed to encourage parental involvement and promote children’s enjoyment and motivation to read for pleasure.  The programme is for children aged approximately 4 – 8 years and is rolled out mainly through the junior classes in primary school, but can also been used in preschool and afterschool settings.

Each night over a three-week period, the children take home a book from the class library, sit, read and discuss the book with their ‘book buddy’ and then both draw a picture representing the book. The project finishes with a series of exhibitions of the artwork from the children and book buddies in the local schools to celebrate the commitment and effort of all the children and their families.

The Zoom Ahead with Booksprogramme is an ideal way to encourage parental involvement, develop the home learning environment and promote literacy.  It is an inclusive activity that can be done with all parents, especially if schools and other education settings can choose a mix of books, including books in the home language and in the instructional languages. Also, the artistic element of the project means that parents can engage with the activity even if they don’t have literacy skills.

Each child receives a resource pack containing a:

  • blank copybook, colouring pencils, letter to the parents/guardians to tell them about the project and a series of A5 prompt cards with suggested literacy, numeracy and emotional language questions for the ‘book buddy’ to use during the sessions.

Below is a summary of how the programme works:

  • Each child has a ‘book buddy’ at home – a parent/guardian, grandparent or older sibling
  • Each night the child takes home a class library book in their resource pack which they are asked to read and discuss with their book buddy. Both child and book buddy then draw a picture representing their discussion, whether it is their favourite part of the book, their interpretation, or any creative expression based on the book.
  • Children with writing skills can also add a comment underneath
  • Teacher appraises copies every day, or whenever possible, and adds stickers and comments to encourage
  • Teacher can make a wall chart representing the number of books being read by each child/group in the class every day/week of the project (teacher decides on this themselves) and illustrates Zoom Ahead with Books. Thisvisual display of progress helps to keep the children and book buddies motivated
  • Towards the end of the project each child and book buddy draw a special picture on a template provided and ELI will have it framed for an exhibition in the NCI (or your own school) (further guidelines on the template for pictures for framing will be sent separately)
  • Exhibition will celebrate the achievements of the children and book buddies and promote books and reading in the school and the community
  • Framed picture is given as gift to the family following the exhibition.



Planning the Programme

  1. Make a list of outcomes you hope to achieve by doing this activity.
  2. Organise parents to take part in activity- decide on whether this will be a school based or home-based activity.
  3. Book choice- decide on whether to use one book for the whole class or let children/parents choose the book (can be multilingual, home language or instructional language).You can always do both. E.g. have a school-based activity where all parents use the same book as a demonstration and then children can choose their own books to use at home.
  4. Create a simple set of directions for parents/children, if you have parents/staff who can translate into different languages, you can have dual/multilingual instructions. Include images of each step (this will also help parents with literacy issues and language barriers.)
  5. Model the use of the Zoom Ahead with Books pack. If you decide to have a school-based activity, this can be done during circle time, you can build this modelling into your activity plan.  If you choose to do a home-based activity, you could create a video of a parent using the pack or take a series of photographs to create a visual aid.
  6. Plan your evaluation/ review- how do I know the activity was successful/enjoyable/supported parents/have I fulfilled the desired outcomes/what have the children learned.


7. Once you have planned your activity, put it into practice (school based or home based)


8. Use your planned evaluation process to review the desired outcomes.



Catibusic-Finnegan, Bronagh (2017): Supporting multilingual children’s literacy development. MLM-make literacy meaningful: http://euliteracy.eu/supporting-language-acquisition-multilingual-environments/