A father talks to his teen about healthy food choices at the grocery store. A grandmother reads with her grandchild while they wait for an appointment. An older child teaches their younger sibling to play a board game. A mother participates in Parent And Child Together (PACT) Time® in her child’s classroom. What do these activities have in common? Families are learning together! In homes, at schools, and across communities, families connect by talking, playing, and engaging with one another. National Family Literacy Day® is a time to recognize families learning together!
For 28 years, National Family Literacy Day has been observed on November 1. The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) joins our partners in the field to celebrate and bring awareness to the important role families play in their children’s education. Learning does not begin on the first day of preschool or kindergarten—it begins at birth as children interact with people and things in their surroundings. In her book Parent Nation, Dr. Dana Suskind (2022) describes the critical role that families play in building their toddlers’ brains—particularly through serve-and-return interaction. When children begin formal education, families continue to guide them as they grow and develop.
Families, especially parenting adults, should be supported and honored. NCFL recognizes the entire month of November as National Family Literacy Month®! We invite you to join the celebration by planning activities and events that focus on families learning together. Here are four ideas for participating:
- Engaging families in play is a key way to support learning and development. Share information with families about the value of play. NCFL’s Play Toolkit has resources for families, as well as practitioners, to support young children’s development. As children grow older, play might look different, but they can learn important math and science concepts. NCFL’s Family Engagement activities include great activities such as Hills and Ramps, Paper Airplane Race, and Shadow Play.
- Encourage families to read together. At your next family engagement event or PACT Time lesson, include a read-aloud. Plan stopping points and ask open-ended questions that families can discuss together. Model that reading together can be interactive and fun! NCFL’s Cultivating Readers series has a booklet with tips for parenting adults as well as a printable bookmark.
- Start a Dinner Table Project in your community. Begun in Kentucky, these projects focus on building relationships within families by encouraging them to eat dinner together once each week. Share a “Table Talks” newsletter—which includes conversation starters, recipes, and tips—with families.
- Plan an outdoor celebration collaboratively with families. Consider available spaces that are easily accessible. Ask parenting adults and community partners to help plan and facilitate activities that connect families with nature. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has these suggestions for exploring outdoors to inspire your planning team.
Families help their children learn and grow every day. Take time during National Family Literacy Month to celebrate with your families. Publicize the work that is being done to support families in your community. Share your events and photos on the social media platform of your choice with the hashtag #FamilyLiteracyMonth.
Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.
Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities
William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.
Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with
NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy
resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.
The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.
Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation
PNC Grow Up Great
PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.
PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.
NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great
U.S. Department of Education
Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania.
The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.Foundation Website