By Jennifer Van Pelt
What is Family Literacy Month?
November is Family Literacy Month, a time to bring awareness to the importance of reading as a family. Family literacy can be more than reading together, it can also include engaging in other activities that focus on reading, writing, spelling, or storytelling. In a publication by the National Literacy Trust, they cited parental involvement as the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy. Bringing these activities into the home in a one-on-one environment can mean much higher interest in reading as well as higher learning rates.
What Does Family Literacy Look Like?
The most important aspect is that family literacy should be a family activity. This means children should be interacting with parents, grandparents, or siblings when taking part in these activities. It’s also important to make it fun -- children don’t necessarily need to know that they’re learning while you partake in these activities! Some examples to “gamify” your day to day are:
Ask them to name every item around them that starts with the same first letter as their name
Ask them to read street signs, or infer what the signs mean from the drawings on them
Switch off telling stories about your days
Read the book version of their favorite movie
Take family outings to the library where reading is the main activity
Words Alive’s Family Literacy Program
Words Alive offers a Family Literacy Program for parents and preschool-aged children to attend 7 workshops together. The program includes a weekly information session for the adults, then together the children and parents partake in a group story time as well as guided activities. Our Family Literacy Program focuses on three goals:
Parents develop an internal commitment to reading -- develop sustainable family reading habits
Parents and children become lifelong learners -- expand knowledge of how to best develop and support their child’s development
Parents become advocates for their children and their futures -- embrace role as their child’s first and foremost teacher
Working towards these goals gives parents the right tools to have deeper engagement with their children when reading together. When asking for feedback from the Family Literacy Program participants, one parent wrote:
“Before, my kids did not treat their books with respect. They used to flip through all the pages and mess them up but the books we get from the program are like magic. They take care of them and hug them and cuddle with them before bed.”
These positive changes and relationship to books is what Words Alive hopes to achieve. Our program has demonstrated an 87% increase in the percentage of families who look at books together at home by the end of the 7 week program. By providing this program to families, we are giving them the tools that they need to understand the power of reading and what it can mean for their lives. If you would like to learn more, you can visit our programs page here.