I have given workshops for parents, carers and families on supporting reading at home for over twenty years (this one was in a very deprived area of London), so family literacy is a subject very close to my heart. It is also incredibly important. All the research I have done for my courses on family literacy shows that family support for, involvement in and encouragement of reading has enormous impact on children’s attitudes to and attainment in literacy and wider learning. These are some of the reports and websites I have found useful in terms of data and good ideas for fostering family literacy:
- Campaign for Learning
- Discovering new worlds: linking family activities and events to further learning, Campaign for Learning
- Family engagement: a toolkit for schools, National Literacy Trust
- Family learning, an evaluation of the benefits of family learning for participants, their families and the wider community, Ofsted
- Family learning and museums, libraries, archives and the cultural sector: embedding a strategic approach to working together, NIACE
- Family Learning Works: The Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales, NIACE
- Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading, National Literacy Trust
- Talk to your Baby
- Words for Life
I love hearing imaginative ways of supporting family reading. On a recent course a literacy coordinator in a school with little family involvement told us all about a great half-term challenge. Children and families did all sorts of everyday reading together like following recipes, reading maps, reading emails. They came back to school with wonderful portfolios full of pictures, videos and written work, and, more importantly, increased enthusiasm for reading. This week the Commons Education Select Committee heard from headteacher David Jones about the difficulty of engaging parents in reading initiatives, and how his school got round this. The clip is 19 minutes in. A different strategy used by a school where I gave a workshop was also very successful. They had a whole afternoon and evening of interesting reading-related activities, including demonstrations in every classroom. Their way of reaching the parents and carers they never normally see? All the demonstrators were their children!
Finally, if any proof is needed of the joy of family reading, here is a delightful video of a father and baby laughing together over a book.