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. We know that family literacy is important to future reading and school success, but does that mean you should be prepared to read 100 books a week? Of course not! While family literacy activities are often based in reading, there are lots of other ways you and your family can conduct literacy activities at home through picture books, songs, poetry and storytelling.
Storytelling: Talking about Family History and Creating New Adventures
One of the best ways to help foster family literacy in the home is to encourage all family members to engage in 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. Be supportive when your child misses an important element and help them pronounce key vocabulary words like names of relatives, locations, etc. This activity helps build vocabulary, understand sequencing and recall information.
Writing Notes: Connecting Family and Friends
Learning to read and learning to write go hand in hand. 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.
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. Engaging in a frequent email exchange with relatives and friends builds a child's letter recognition skills and provides practice organizing thoughts and ideas.
Using the Library with the Whole Family
Visiting the library together is a great way to foster family literacy activities. Not only do libraries often offer access to books on a wide range of literacy levels and subjects, libraries often have books in several languages as well. Families can also visit the library to connect with community literacy projects, storytelling, tutoring and reading clubs. Our Anythink libraries are an excellent community resource!
Learning to love to read starts at an early age and often starts at home. If families make the effort to encourage, support and engage all aspects of literacy in their homes, children and family members will enjoy reading and writing together for the rest of their lives!