Celebrate Family Literacy Day — All Month Long!

Literacy Month GraphicResearch shows that when families read together, learning happens and memories are made that last a lifetime. While National Family Literacy Day is celebrated each year on November 1, there’s no reason not to continue the celebration all month long!

Family literacy is about family members enhancing reading skills with things they do together. Family literacy should incorporate a variety of tools: books with words, picture books, storytelling, dramatic play and more.

One thing parents or caregivers can do is make up fun activities that involve reading. For example, if an adult is cooking, they can make up a scavenger hunt around the kitchen for things that start with different letters or ask the child to follow the recipe, line by line. Also, remember that reading isn’t only a sit-down activity. There are many opportunities to practice reading outside the home. During a walk or drive to school, parents might ask a child to read the signs on buildings or point out everything that begins with a certain letter.

Components of a good family literacy program involve the entire family – children of all ages, parents, grandparents, etc. – regardless of the reading ability of each person. Adults should read to children in whichever language they are most comfortable. If parents don’t know how to read they can open up a book and invent the story, or share a personal story from their childhood.

In addition to parents, grandparents or other caregivers, one benefit of having older kids teach younger kids is that the older children actually learn more. For example, when an older child reads alone, he or she reads fast, but when reading to a younger child, the older one might have to explain vocabulary words, concepts and story lines. This also makes the older child a more confident reader.

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Share these tips for National Family Literacy Day and keep the momentum going all month long:

  • Use everyday activities to help kids learn
  • Make the library a regular family destination
  • Encourage older kids to share books
  • Provide props or materials for dramatic play/storytelling
  • Read to or with your child at least 15 minutes each day

Activity Ideas for Schools/Teachers:

  • Kickoff Family Literacy Month by inviting parents, grandparents and other family members to your classroom for a family-school reading day.
  • Invite student’s family members to read a favorite story from their childhood, or their child’s favorite bedtime story. (Grandparents can share both their child’s and their grandchild’s favorites.)
  • Provide a collection of books for families to share during a group reading session.
  • Invite families to get comfortable by bringing a cushion, beanbag chair or pillow.
  • Introduce families to some of the games and tools used in the classroom.
  • Encourage them to use these ideas at home.
  • Provide each family with a certificate of participation or a bookmark at the end of the event. Ask a local bookstore for a donation, or print certificates and bookmarks from your computer.
  • At the close of the event, be sure to remind parents and families about any other
  • Family Literacy Day/Month events in your community.
  • Remember that family literacy is something that should be encouraged all year round. Invite students and their families to brainstorm ways they can keep their family engaged in reading on a regular basis.

Activity Ideas for Your Community:

  • Collaborate with your local library to encourage members of your community to get their library card!
  • Host a Read-A-Thon at a community center or other common area. Members of the community will all read for a designated period of time.
  • Involve your community in a service project to collect books for a school or other organization in need of books for children.

Activity Ideas for Families:

  • Sign up as a guest reader at your local school.
  • Plan an evening to “camp out” and read! Get out a tent or make a fort in your living room or backyard, and have each family member grab some books to read together. Add an extra fun element by having a cookout or making s’mores!
  • Involve distant family members in the enjoyment of reading by sharing a book together via Skype or FaceTime.
  • Remember that older siblings can also get involved by reading their favorite childhood book to younger siblings.

More Tips for Parents
from the National Education Association

Here are proven techniques you can use to teach your child that reading is valuable and enjoyable:

  • Set a good example as a reader – let kids see you reading every day.
  • Get a subscription in your child’s name to an age-appropriate magazine.
  • When relatives and others ask for gift ideas, suggest magazine subscriptions, books, or a book store gift certificate.
  • Make reading fun – a time that you and your children look forward to spending together.
  • Keep lots of books, magazines, and newspapers around the house. Visit the library often and shop for books at garage and yard sales, swap meets, and used bookstores.
  • Don’t fret if “Captain Underpants” has captivated your child rather than
  • Robinson Crusoe. The important thing: he’s reading! Encourage it and he’s likely to move on to more sophisticated titles as he gets older.