Why are literacy suitcases important? Literacy suitcases encourage emergent writing in young children and build home-school relationships.Children progress through predictable stages in writing over a period of time. The literacy suitcase provides additional opportunities for the emergence of writing. The suitcase is enjoyable and nonthreatening. It educates parents about how children progress through the stages in writ- ing. Chapter 1 contains detailed information about the stages in the emergence of writing in young children. How have literacy suitcases evolved? Literacy suitcases have evolved from supplies of general writing and art materials to suitcases focused primarily on writing activi- ties.We designed our original literacy suitcases based on an article by Susan Rich (see “The Writing Suitcase” in Young Children,July 1985). She suggested that teachers send home paper, pencils, markers, tape, and a stapler to encourage children to write at home. While we noticed that children wereexcited to take the suitcase home, we also observed that many children used the materials for art collages and drawing activities rather than for writing explorations. For this reason, teachers began to experi- ment with variations of the suitcase. Some teachers removed all the art supplies; others included a small book in the suitcase. Some teachers included name cards for all the children in the group. We began to find more samples of children’s writing in the suitcases returned to us. For example, many children began to produce marks that moreclosely resembled the linear formof writing rather than the circular formof drawing. Some children copied the name and word cards. Parents also provided us with valuable information about their children’s emergent writing. Why are literacy suitcases an important part of the curriculum? Literacy suitcases encourage children to construct concepts related to the meaning of print and the mechanics of written com- munication. The suitcases also help teachers communicate valuable literacy-development information to parents.The literacy suitcase is abridge between school and home. It educates parents about the value of exploring writing. In some cases, the literacy suitcase provides materials that may not be available at home. Howdo literacy suitcases encourage children to construct the concepts related to writing? Literacy suitcases provide writing supplies and accessories that encourage children to experiment with written communication.The 258 More Than Letters chapter 8.qxd 11/12/10 11:10 AM Page 258