Somali ‘influencers’ in and beyond a school community: Using funds of knowledge to influence family and children’s reading engagement

Jane Carter, Hibo Mohammad and Fathia Aidid

Abstract

Identifying approaches to enable traditionally ‘hard to reach’ children and families engage with book choice, book sharing and reading, has been an area for research and development for some years. Ensuring families have access to books is an essential pre-requisite. This case study investigated an innovative approach, more typically used in health research, to engaging families in a large, diverse primary school (n= 328) where a proportion of its typically ‘harder to reach’ families were within its Somali community. The research design involved community researchers identifying members of the school and wider community who were considered to be ‘influential’, drawing from religious organisations, community and parent groups as well as community elders. This group of ‘influencers’ (n=13) shared their experiences of learning to read and understanding of the barriers for families in engaging with schools and reading. ‘Messages’ were collaboratively designed and shared over six weeks through the ‘influencers’’ channels of communication. During these six weeks, the school opened its library after school for families. Data was gathered to identify the number of families that visited the library (n=69), the books borrowed (n=144) and then analysed to identify if any of the ‘harder to reach’ families had made use of the library. Twenty-six of these families were considered to be ‘harder to reach’. Further data indicated that it was possible that at least eight of these families had engaged with the library as a result of the ‘influencers’. This suggests the use of ‘influencers’ may present a promising area for further research.

 

Carter, J., Mohammad, H. and Aidid, F. (2022) Somali ‘influencers’ in and beyond a school community: Using funds of knowledge to influence family and children’s reading engagement. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 13(2). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=19019 [Accessed 02 Mar, 2024].