Grab a book, a magazine, or your e-reader! It’s time to celebrate. Tell your program participants, your coworkers, your students, or your friends. March is National Reading Month! An entire month to focus on the importance of reading in our lives. Reading helps us to stay in touch, to be informed, and to escape into great stories. Reading together is a positive experience for children and adults. Families create happy memories around books and stories. Parents and caregivers demonstrate to their children that they value reading. Children have opportunities to talk and laugh with their parents. Families connect and bond.
According to Scholastic’s most recent Kids and Family Reading Report, most parents agreed that it was important to read to their young children. However, only 58% of parents actually read to their preschool-aged children 5 to 7 days each week. Sadly, as children grow older, families read together even less. Only 21% of surveyed parents regularly read with their nine- to eleven-year-olds.
As practitioners, we have an opportunity to educate parents and caregivers in order to encourage families to read together at home. Here are a few ideas for celebrating National Reading Month in your school or program while focusing on the importance of reading together:
- Model a family book club during Parent Time. Choose a short chapter book that would be fun for the whole family, such as the classic "Mr. Popper’s Penguins" by Richard Atwater or "The Tale of Despareaux" by Kate DiCamillo. The participants in your program can take turns reading a few paragraphs aloud just as families would do at home. Individuals who are not comfortable reading aloud can listen to the story. Take time to ask questions and discuss information about children’s reading development. Read throughout the month until your group finishes the whole book. If funds are available, provide each family a copy of the same book so that they can read it together for at-home PACT Time®.
- Use books in your Parent Time lessons on children’s social-emotional learning. A story, like "Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse" by Kevin Henkes, can be a springboard for discussions around managing anger and apologizing. An excerpt from a novel, such as "Rules" by Cynthia Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk about disabilities and social norms. Discuss as a group how parents might respond to the situations presented and make connections to participants' own lives.
- Play an audiobook during your arrival time. Allow participants to summarize and discuss. This practice gives purpose to those opening minutes and models for parents and caregivers another way to incorporate reading into their families routines. Classic stories, like "Charlotte’s Web" by E.B. White or "Matilda" by Roald Dahl, are perfect for all ages.
- In a Parent Time lesson focused on healthy eating, try a new recipe! Read the recipe together in advance and make a grocery list. Then work together to prepare the dish during class. Recipes provide not only an authentic reason to read, but practice in life skills as well as math concepts. Follow-up by having families do an activity on healthy eating during PACT Time® and then finish up by trying the food you made together.
- Kids are always asking curious questions! Support families in reading to find answers by hosting a family event centered around Wonderopolis.org®. For more information, check out NCFL’s free Family Learning Event Guide which includes suggestions for planning events as well as a detailed plan for a Wonderopolis® event.
- Take a field trip to visit your local library! Yes, libraries do story times and have books for check out, but 21st century libraries offer so much more. You might find classes in yoga or teen programs focused on coding. You can access digital resources, such as magazines, cookbooks, or audio books, from your own device at no charge.
During National Reading Month, use these ideas to support your families in building routines and creating traditions around reading. Help your families see that reading is not just a subject that they study in school, but an essential part of life. An activity that creates bonds, helps us to understand the world, and enriches our lives.
How is your school or program celebrating National Reading Month? Add your ideas in the comments below. Everyone who comments will receive a free PDF copy of NCFL’s handout for parents and caregivers on Making Reading Interactive.
Toyota Family Learning Program
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
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 Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.
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®.Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website
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 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.
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.PNC Grow Up Great
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.Visit the Foundation website
Better World Books
Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.
Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.Better World Books
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.Foundation Website
NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.
The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University