Intergenerational Literacy

The Intergenerational Literacy Program began offering literacy instruction to parents in 1989. The program was developed in collaboration with 17 community organizations and is guided by an Advisory Board representing participating parents, the Chelsea Public Schools, Boston University, and community organizations. The program seeks to accomplish the general goal of supporting families in working with their children, both to attain the instructional objectives of the schools and to reinforce positive attitudes toward education. To accomplish the larger goal, two sub-goals and objectives have been outlined: to improve the literacy skills of participating adults and to improve literacy knowledge among preschool and school-aged children.

Professor Jeanne Paratore
Boston University
Wheelock College of Education & Human Development
605 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 353-3285
Falon Eke, Ed.M., 
Chelsea Public Schools
Early Learning Center
99 Hawthorn Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
(617) 466-5154

Adult Literacy Classes

The program offers English literacy classes to immigrant parents so that they can improve their own opportunities and so that they can more fully support their children’s education in American schools, while maintaining their existing rich literacy and language practices within the family. Adults are 1) provided instruction in reading and responding to literacy materials of adult interest; 2) provided a selection of children’s books, strategies, and ideas for use with their children; and 3) encouraged to share their children’s stories and drawings and to discuss literacy events, and their importance, in their lives and the lives of their children. Emphasis is placed on family contexts for literacy with specific emphasis on family storybook reading. As well, the program maintains a library of multilingual, multicultural children’s books which parents are encouraged to take home to share with their children.

Three classes are offered, scheduled to meet the needs of both employed and unemployed parents. Two classes are held from 8:30–10:30 a.m., Monday–Thursday, and one class is held from 6–8 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Two instructional cycles are conducted each academic year, and one 12-week instructional cycle is offered during the summer.

Children’s Classes

During both morning and evening classes, a free literacy-based children’s program is provided for children of participating families. Preschool-aged children attend in the morning and both preschool and school-aged children attend in the evening. Approximately 25 children, ranging in age from 6 months to 5 years, attend the morning program; 21 children attend the evening program, ranging in age from 1 to 11 years of age.


The children’s program has been designed to facilitate children’s language and literacy development. Using themed instructional units, such as “All About Me” or “Transportation,” the program exposes children to a range of literature in both their first languages and in English. Frequent in-class storybook readings, in both whole-class and small group settings, are supported by a variety of activities to meet the needs of all participating children. Activities offered include music, art, use of program computers for story-writing and instructional programs and, with the school-aged children, homework support and a book discussion group.