Family literacy encompasses the ways parents, children, and extended family members
use literacy at home and in their community. Sometimes, family literacy occurs naturally during
the routines of daily living and helps adults and children “get things done.” These events might
include using drawings or writings to share ideas; composing notes or letters to communicate
messages; making lists; reading and following directions; or sharing stories and ideas through
conversation, reading, and writing. Family literacy may be initiated purposefully by a parent or
may occur spontaneously as parents and children go about the business of their daily lives.
Family literacy activities may also reflect the ethnic, racial, or cultural heritage of the families
involved (Morrow, 1995, pp. 7-8).
Another use of the term family literacy is related to educational programs or services. In some cases, family literacy refers to any program that involves parents in the literacy development and/or school experiences of their children (Handel, 1999; Hannon, 2000). The federal definition, however, takes a comprehensive approach to family literacy and mandates the inclusion of four separate components. This federal definition refers to family literacy services as:
services that are of sufficient intensity in terms of hours, and of sufficient duration, to make
sustainable changes in a family and that integrate all of the following activities:
(A) Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children.
(B) Training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children.
(C) Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency.(D) An age-appropriate education program to prepare children for success in school and life experiences (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001).