Sandy Klarenbeek, health educator, Division of Physical Education and Health at Black Hills State University, recently presented at the 16th European Conference on Reading in Braga, Portugal.

Klarenbeek presented with Dr. Joanna Jones, former BHSU professor and current gifted and talented coordinator for Meade County, during a session titled “Health and Reading: Building Literacy Together” which focused on identifying children and young adult literature that align with the National Health Education Standards.

Health literacy includes knowledge about health and seven health skills: accessing information, analyzing influences, decision making, goal setting, interpersonal communication, self management and advocacy. Health skills, like reading skills, need to be practiced in non-threatening situations in order to become lifelong living skills.

Educators from Russia, Israel, Jordan, and Norway were among those who attended the session.

In an effort to encourage teachers to use literature to teach to the health standards, Klarenbeek has worked with Jones, reading specialist to identify literature which aligns with a health content area and health skills. This fall a book written by Klarenbeek and Jones, entitled “Using Literature to Teach Health. A Guide for Teachers” will be published as a resource for teachers.

Klarenbeek is the chair of the health and reading subcommittee for the Health Education Assessment Project (HEAP) which develops templates for teachers to use. The templates include summary information about a selected book, reading and grade level, a series of discussion questions which align to health content areas, and health skills, a vocabulary list, assessment items and on-line resources to support teachers with more information. To view completed templates and get more information on the HEAP health and reading project, to go www.scassheap.org.

“I plan to share completed templates with my students in health methods and provide the opportunity for these future teachers to practice developing a template on a book they choose which aligns with the health standards. I feel they will be more likely to use this method in their own future classroom,” Klarenbeek says.