Friday, November 6, 2009

National Family Literacy Month

November is National Family Literacy Month.  So, this month, I’m going to take some time to post about ways that families can incorporate literacy into their everyday lives.
What Can Families Do Together To Promote Literacy?
1. The number one thing, in my opinion, that families can do together to promote literacy is to read aloud.  Consider hosting a family reading night once a week.  Each week rotate family members to choose a book to read aloud.  If you have children who aren’t of reading age, allow them to pick out the book and have a reading family member read it aloud.  Make it an event! Make snacks, create crafts, or make a game up related to the book.  Need some inspiration?  Check out: Fairy Tale Feasts:  A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters by Jane Yolen  

Susan at The Book Chook recently posted Ten Ways to Involve the Whole Family in Reading Aloud.  Check it out for additional ways to incorporate reading aloud into the fabric of your family.   

Jen, from Jen Robinson’s Book Page, posted Tips for Growing Bookworms: #1 Read Aloud this week at PBS Booklights.  She discusses the importance of reading aloud to our kids from birth or even before!

2. Have older siblings read to younger siblings.  I love hearing my son read to my daughter.  And she loves it, too!  I’ve also had my older child record himself reading two or three favorite books.  This helps him practice fluency and my daughter can listen to the recordings when he’s not around.    

Along the same lines, Terry from The Reading Tub wrote Bedtime from Afar: Sharing Books When You Can’t Cuddle Up Close at PBS Booklights last month.   In her post she talks about ways to continue a bedtime read aloud tradition, even if you can’t be there in person, by recording yourself reading aloud. 

Which made me think about this:  when I was a child, my father was in the military and often spent six months or more out to sea.  One of my fondest memories was my mom, brother, and I sitting around the kitchen table recounting our day into a cassette tape for Dad.  Mom would mail the tapes off and in a month or so we received several cassette tapes from my dad telling us about his travels.  Taking this idea a step further, wouldn’t it be fantastic if the children of deployed military men and women recorded themselves reading aloud books to send to their moms and dads overseas?  United Through Reading provides books and recording equipment for deployed parents to read aloud to their kids on DVD, but I’m sure parents would be delighted to hear (and even better, SEE) their children read books to them as well! 

3. Play literacy games, such as Boggle or Scrabble.  Boggle, Jr. is perfect for kids 3-6.  Break your family into teams and make it a game night!  Or make up your own literacy games.  My children enjoy playing Go Fish with a twist.  My three year old goes fishing for letters and my six year old goes fishing for sight words.  Simply create pairs of letters or pairs of sight words on index cards.  If your child already recognizes capital letters, make lower case letters or create a mixture of both and have your child match the capital letter to the lowercase letter.      

4. Make regular family outings to the library, book store, or yard/garage sales to find new books.  Libraries and book stores often showcase new books each month based on seasons, holidays, special events, etc.  Both also often provide story times for young children and special events.  Often you can find special treasures at sales. . . if you really look. 
5. Pay it forward!   As a family, donate books you don’t read anymore to local hospitals, homeless shelters, etc.  Volunteer your time to read to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.  Nothing beats sharing a love of literacy as a family than sharing it with those who can use a little extra attention.  So as the holiday season approaches, consider reading aloud holiday books at your local children’s hospital or nursing home.       

Additional Resources
Since it’s National Family Literacy Month, several organizations are posting ways to incorporate literacy into family life.  Here are a few I found this week: 

The National Center for Family Literacy has free, interactive activities for families to complete together.  These activities are based on events that instill pride in our nation’s history.

At First Book, guest blogger, Tina Chovanec, wrote Adventures in Family Learning, a post about ways “parents can jumpstart reading and learning together.” 

What ways do you promote literacy as a family? I’d love to hear how other families incorporate literacy into their lives.  


  1. Great post Dawn! My family is all grown up, but we still enjoy word games like Blurt, Balderdash and charades. We also write each other emails, even though we live in the same house. I would pretend that is because we love literacy, but it's actually because we are all a little forgetful and message immediately in case we forget!

  2. This is a terrific post, Dawn ... I've been holding it as a star in my reader until I had time to enjoy it. I didn't even realize that you'd linked to my Booklights post. What a wonderful story about making tapes for your dad.

  3. Susan, my husband and I text one another while in the same house -- more to do with laziness! LOL

    Thank you, Terry! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The memory of my dad was one that literally came to light after reading your post!