National Family Literacy Month: Learning and Growing Together

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By Erin Pittman

Barbara Bush may have offered some of the best advice on family literacy when she simply said, “Let your children see you read.”

November is National Family Literacy Month. This observance was created to emphasize the importance of learning as a family and to encourage adults to prioritize their own education, allowing them to more actively engage in the learning of the children in their lives. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading level
themselves.

Making Strides Through Family Literacy

National Family Literacy Month is sponsored by the National Center for Families Learning. NCFL works to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. This multi-generational approach to literacy is creating huge successes for families across the country. Of families participating in their family learning
program, 90% show an increase in family engagement in education, as well as much higher school attendance for children and regular literacy skills practice among adults.

Literacy and the Library

Families do not have to be enrolled in formal programs to improve their family’s literacy. Studies show that reading aloud with parents is the most important activity for childhood literacy. Reading together improves vocabulary, attention, writing skills and memory, and educates children about life experiences and places.

The Prince William Public Library System offers countless activities for families, including their 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program.

“1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is the most meaningful and relevant annual reading program offered to our library patrons,” said Bryanna Altman, Prince William Public Library System Foundation president. “Parents, grandparents and caregivers rave about the program and its effectiveness in introducing reading
and books to children from birth to kindergarten.”

Families can sign up for the program at any library branch or visit pwcgov.beanstack.org/reader365 to get started. Regular visits to the library and taking part in library-sponsored activities are also important ways to bring more literacy and learning opportunities to children.

“Libraries play an important role in the education and development of children,” said Rachel Johnson, Prince William Public Library System’s communication services division chief. “Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifelong learning.”

Visit pwcgov.org/government/dept/library to find your nearest branch and to check out their calendar of events.

Literacy at Home

There are a variety of simple ways to encourage more reading and learning activities at home. Try a few of these out during National Family Literacy Month and reap the benefits and joy of learning with your children.

  • Set aside time to read with your children every day for at least 15 minutes. Try making it a part of your bedtime routine. Use funny voices and point to words as you read them. They’ll be learning and settling down from their day all at once.
  • Attend a library event together, like story time or a STEAM activity.
  • Set baskets of books around the house to encourage reading and sharing. Be sure to include a variety of reading materials such as fiction and nonfiction books, magazines and graphic novels.
  • Locate a Little Free Library near you to donate books your family has finished with and pick up some new ones to enjoy together.
  • Print out NCFL’s 30 Days of Families Learning Together and follow their activities. You can find the calendar at 30days.familieslearning.org/.

Erin Pittman has been a writer for 10 years, but a lover of words her entire life. Her work is published in local magazines and on local and national blogs. Contact Erin at [email protected].

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