Family Literacy

What is Family Literacy?

The family is the strongest element in shaping lives. It's the most powerful support network there is. It's where the cycle of learning begins, where the attitudes of parents about learning become the educational values of their children. Through education of more than one generation, family literacy programs build on families' strengths and provide the tools and support they need to become stronger and more self-sufficient. (National Centre for Family Literacy – Kentucky)

Given the diversity of families, programs and materials, the term “family literacy” can be used to mean different things by different people. Family literacy acknowledges the richness and complexity of families and the multiple often-unrecognized literacy tasks that are part of every day life.

Family Literacy

  • is the intergenerational sharing of experiences and meanings, which enhance the development of language and numeracy skills
  • regards the family as a "learning unit" and provides integrated support and learning opportunities for all family members
  • is an innovative educational approach based upon a powerful premise: parents are their children's first and most important teachers
  • is a shared responsibility that builds on existing community resources and combines the strengths of many partners
  • is culturally responsive and as diverse as the communities in which it develops
  • addresses the intergenerational correlation between education-level, income-level and health status

The Goals of Family Literacy

  • to promote reading and learning as valued family activities that encourage positive interactions and shared experiences
  • to enhance the ability of parents to support their children's literacy development, from birth throughout the school years
  • to support parents in the challenging and critical job of nurturing children who will become successful adults and contribute to a strong society
  • to provide an opportunity for parents to pursue their own educational goals
  • to provide children with developmentally appropriate learning opportunities that support "school readiness"
  • to promote and support lifelong learning

Why Have Family Literacy Programs?

  • Research indicates that if we want our intervention and prevention efforts to be effective, we must work with the family as a unit. Interventions aimed only at specific age groups (children, youth or adults) show little or no gains in cognitive development that sustain over time
  • Parents are far more likely to persist in family literacy programs than in other types of adult literacy programs (Tracey, 1995)
  • Without family involvement, interventions by schools or agencies are less likely to be effective or lasting (Nickse, 1989)
  • Children acquire their basic cognitive, linguistic and social skills within the context of the family (Sticht & McDonald, 1989)
  • Studies show beyond dispute that children's achievements in school improves with increased parent involvement in education (Henderson, 1998)
  • Researchers estimate that over the lifetime of participants in an early literacy intervention program, returns to the public are $7.16 for every dollar invested (Schweinhart et al., 1993)

Family Literacy Is Everybody's Business

Parents: Often, parents are not aware of the powerful influence they have on their children's attitude toward literacy and learning, or are not aware of how they can help their children do better in school, regardless of their own education levels

Communities: It takes an entire village to raise a child (African proverb). Strong families build successful communities

Health: Literacy is a major factor underlying most other determinants of health (Perrin, 1998)

Education: Parents' educational level, particularly mothers', is strongly linked to children's health, school readiness and school achievement (Van Fossen & Sticht, 1991). Parents are educators' strongest allies in developing positive attitudes towards learning

Community Services: Quality of life for families, including income levels and employment status, are directly related to the literacy levels of parents (IALS, 1995,1997)

Justice: Positive parent-child interactions act as a protective factor for high-risk children. Children's social relationships are the outcome most affected by parenting practices (HRDC Bulletin, 1997)

 Brown Bear, Brown Bear
by Bill Martin, Jr.
Illustrated by Eric Carle


Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a......looking at me. What could be looking at a brown bear, you ask? Why, a blue horse, of course. These really are the words to a terrific book about colors and animals. There are more incredible animals that follow this lyrical beginning. It is a favorite of the under six age group. It gives children a chance to play with words. Eric Carle has added his wonderful collage illustrations to this magical collection of words by Bill Martin, Jr

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle   

This book begins with a tiny egg lying on a leaf. When Sunday morning comes, the bright sun comes up and the caterpillar comes out of the egg. This is no ordinary caterpillar. This is a very hungry caterpillar.
The caterpillar goes on a search for food. He eats one through one apple on Monday and two pears on Tuesday. On Wednesday he munches through three plums. Thursday he is still hungry so he finds four strawberries to eat, and nibbles on five oranges on Friday. On Saturday, he is still so very hungry, so he eats through a lot of unusual things for a caterpillar, things like salami, cherry pie, ice cream, and even watermelon. Saturday night he has a tummy ache. It is Sunday again, and the caterpillar is still hungry so instead of more junk food, he finds a nice green leaf to munch through. This makes his tummy feel much better, too.
Because of all the things he eats, he isn’t little anymore. He is a big, fat caterpillar. The big caterpillar builds a cocoon around him and stays inside for a couple of weeks. Soon he is ready to get out of his house. The book concludes with the caterpillar nibbling his way out - and becoming a lovely butterfly.

Ten Little Ladybugs
By: Melanie Gerth
Illustrated by: Laura Huliska-Beith

The Little Ladybugs is an enchanting first book to introduce your little one to counting backwards from 10. It is beautifully illustrated
throughout and each page has a cutout circle and a three-dimensional ladybug that "stays" with the previous page. As you read along the flowing rhymed pages, the ladybugs help to visually reinforce the concept of counting backwards

Special Thanks to: Preschool Literacy BC/Growing 6-29-2011