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National Family Literacy Month. What Can Early Literacy Look Like At Home?

Reading is such an awesome pastime, but how do we keep children turning the pages? Host a family literacy night! Learning Ally held its first virtual Family Literacy Advocacy Night with a large school district in the northeast. It was such a wonderful success that we wanted to share the takeaways with you. 

“I Promise” by LeBron James

Our family literacy event brought teachers, parents, and children together to hear a story read aloud by Michael Burgess, a Learning Ally professional narrator, who read LeBron James’ book, “I Promise.” Michael narrated the story with incredible expression and depth to demonstrate how reading aloud with authenticity can engage and inspire children. 

Attendees talked about the story. We laughed; we shared reasons why literacy is important in school and at home. We discussed the myriad ways that literacy surrounds us, what activities work best for reading engagement, the impact culturally-relevant books and diverse literature can have, and creative ways to find joy in reading every day. Pictorial literacy was discussed, and we experienced how to read a book through storytelling using relevant text-based words. The live read-aloud demonstrated the powerful benefits of read-alouds. We discovered COUNTLESS opportunities to interject literacy in the home environment to strengthen skills in vocabulary, comprehension, critical thinking, and background knowledge. We made a fantastic Word Cloud about literacy activities in the home.

Give Children a Voice 

Everyone agreed that reading should always be engaging and never a punishment, and gave suggestions for practicing literacy at home. For example, reading a recipe, reading street signs, reading on the playground, bath time, bedtime, morning, noon, and nighttime. Any time is a good time to read! 

Attendees promised to show up for our children and advocate for literacy, and to aid children in discovering who they are as people and their personal interests. We agreed to help teachers understand “who our child is,” their strengths, and interests. We promised to model literacy advocacy in our own lives. 

Creating a Culture of Readers

Looking for good ideas to advocate for literacy? Here are some ideas from our family literacy night event:  

  • Visit your local library and get a library card.
  • Identify a topic that truly interests your child and read about it together.
  • Use comic books, graphic novels, and any text that will jolt curiosity.
  • Help children identify themselves through authentic literature
  • Create cozy spaces to read. Who doesn’t like a cushy bean bag chair!
  • Volunteer at your local school to read to children.
  • Donate books and participate in community activities.
  • Utilize IEP and parent meetings to discuss your child’s progress and individuality.
  • Model reading enjoyment. 
  • Encourage children to read above their grade level.
  • Listen to audiobooks.
  • Ask questions about what words mean.
  • Sing songs and learn lyrics.
  • Advocate for multilingual literacy resources in your school and libraries.
  • Write and read poetry.
  • Find resources that support your child’s learning differences, like human-read audiobooks.
  • Support collective sharing on the science of reading.
  • Learn what brain-based research says about how we learn.

Literacy is about reading, speaking, writing, and listening. It’s about learning and engagement, sharing and caring, synergy, and reciprocity to learn from each other. It’s about education equality, access, equity and social justice. Literacy can happen anywhere, at any time, and takes a village. 

Let’s cross our pinkies and make a promise to read, and to advocate for #literacyforall. 

Valerie Chernek writes about educational best practices through the use of technology and the science of reading in support of teachers, children, and adolescents who struggle with learning differences.