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November is Family Literacy Month!

November 18, 2021

By Tarilyn Little, Program Director, Early Literacy

November is National Family Literacy Month and we couldn’t be more excited! Partnership between schools, community-based programs and families is critical in supporting the holistic development of every child and this includes literacy. In the spirit of celebration, community and collaboration, the ExpandED Early Literacy Team wanted to share four ideas for engaging families and supporting literacy development at home during November and beyond.

What Schools and Afterschools Can Do

  1. Host family literacy events: Family literacy nights or events are a great way to engage children and families in reading-based activities together. Pair with a creative theme like Pajama Night, Passport, Around the World or Stories and STEM to increase the fun! Family literacy events are also a great place to connect families to resources. For example, sites could invite the local library branch to table, discuss library services and sign families up for library cards.

  2. Help to build home libraries: Access to and engagement with books from a young age helps to develop an interest in and appreciation for reading. Schools and community programs can help families to expand their home libraries in a few ways:

    1. Partner with organizations like Book Fairies, Brooklyn Book Bodega or First Book that focus on building school, home and community libraries. This may include working together to host a book giveaway event at your site or sending a rep to one of their events and bringing books back to your site to hand out.

    2. Host your own book drive and invite community members and partners to donate. Sites could also use an online wishlist service to request specific book donations.

    3. Apply for book grants like The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant

    4. Don’t forget about books for the grown-ups! Reading with children is critical, but so is children seeing their grown-ups as readers!Offer parent/family education workshops: Sites can also support families by hosting workshops on literacy development and literacy-based strategies they can use at home with their children. These workshops can also focus on supporting adult literacy and reading engagement as well.

  3. Send tips and resources home: Another way that we can support families is with easy-to-use tips and resources. This might include:

    1. Read-aloud strategies to use at home

    2. Literacy-based games that can be played at home or on the go

    3. Literacy-focused newsletter with tips, book recommendations and resources to check-out

Research has consistently shown the importance of family involvement in a child’s academic and social-emotional development. Through a clear focus on family engagement and community partnerships, schools and afterschool programs can help foster a love of reading and support literacy development for children and families alike.