Promoting Family Literacy: Raising Ready Readers —Excerpts By NCLD Editorial Staff
The research is clear: Children raised in homes that promote family literacy grow up to be better readers and do better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not promoted. Family literacy is defined as home literacy activities that provide literacy skill-building opportunities for young children while enhancing literacy skill development in all members of the family. We know that promoting family literacy is important to future reading and school success, but does that mean parents should be prepared to read 100 books a week to their preschoolers? Of course not. While family literacy activities are often based in reading, there are lots of other ways families can conduct literacy activities at home through picture books, songs, poetry and storytelling.
Here are some strategies for promoting Family Literacy in your home:
Strategy 1: Assign a special place for your child’s books. Assigning a place for your child's books shows your child that books are special and deserve an organized storage place all their own.
Strategy 2: Using pictures to create stories. Young children love to use their imaginations to create stories to go along with pictures. One of the earliest literacy skills children develop is the concept of sequencing, or telling a story from start to finish in order. One way to practice this skill at home is to create your own picture books, or books without words. Using photos, pictures from magazines or your child's drawings, books can be created and placed in the home library for easy access.
Strategy 3: Storytelling. Not only is storytelling a great way to share family history, it is also a great way to engage all members of the family -- especially those who are building literacy skills regardless of their age. Start by having an older member of the family tell a story about a major family event (wedding, birthday, graduation). Afterward, ask a younger member of the family to re-tell the story in his or her own words.
Strategy 4: Writing notes. It is important to practice and encourage emerging writing skills with young children. One way to encourage writing practice is to have family members leave notes for one another on a regular basis. Leaving a note in a lunch box, taping a note to the mirror in the hallway or slipping a note under a pillow are great ways to reinforce the importance of writing to communicate information. Children should be encouraged to send notes at every stage of their development -- from scribbles to sentences.
Strategy 5: Writing emails. Another way to encourage written communication between family members is to send each other frequent e-mail messages. This is a great way to help young children keep in touch with distant relatives or friends. Working with an adult, have the child dictate or attempt to type a short message. All attempts at typing and dictating should be encouraged. Engaging in a frequent email exchange with relatives and friends builds a child's letter recognition skills and provides practice organizing thoughts and ideas.
Strategy 6: Visiting the library together. Families can improve their literacy skills by reading books from the library. By doing this, family members will build vocabulary, the ability to use context clues to learn new words, and enable adults to ask the child questions about the illustrations and predict what will happen next. Families should also visit the library to connect with community literacy projects, storytelling, tutoring and reading clubs.
Promoting Early Literacy (Preschool and Kindergarten)
If you are a parent of a pre-k or kindergarten student, you can build literacy skills in the following ways:
- Point to each word of the page you read
- Read the title of a book and have your child make a prediction
- Talk a “picture walk” —Use pictures as clues to what is going on in the story
- Model fluency when reading to your child and bring your own energy and excitement to the story
- Ask your child questions after reading every book
- Connect reading and writing—Even if your child cannot yet write, have them draw a picture to retell a story