Family Literacy exists in all families. Parents have the ability to nurture the growth of family literacy. The term family literacy encompasses the ways parents, children, and extended family members use language and literacy at home and in their community. CAYC has created the following position statement on family literacy. 

Parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators play an important role in ensuring that children successfully progress in their literacy development. Children’s literacy efforts are best supported by adult interactions with children through reading aloud, storytelling, making up stories, genuine conversations, as well as children’s social interactions with each other. 

Children take their first critical stages toward learning to read and write very early in life (S. Neuman, C. Copple & S. Bredekamp, 2000).

CAYC believes that family literacy includes:

  • Sharing books with children and modeling reading behaviours
  • Re-reading favourite stories
  • Encouraging children to describe ideas and events that are important to them
  • Visiting the library regularly
  • Having genuine conversations with children during mealtimes and throughout the day
  • Encouraging children’s awareness of environmental print and validating children’s “reading” of logos and household items
  • Storytelling (Real & Make Believe)
  • Singing, dancing and dramatic play 

Children are more likely to become good readers and writers when they repeatedly encounter – both in the home and classroom the many ways that reading and writing matter. Seeing teachers and family members read for their own enjoyment and information, as well as using print in their leisure and work conveys to children a powerful message about literacy’s pleasure and rewards (S. Neuman, C. Copple
& S. Bredekamp, 2000).

For Family Literacy to occur families need to:

  • Realize the role they can play in their children’s early literacy development
  • Expose children to a variety of books in order for them to experience a truly literate-rich environment
  • Surround children with the physical environments, social experiences, and routines that support the value of literacy 
  • Help children see themselves as readers and writers and applaud their efforts
  • Read aloud to children to build the knowledge required for eventual success in reading
  • Create books with children using photographs, drawings and print 
  • Expose children to their name in print to encourage recognition
  • Promote reading as a valued family activity that encourages positive interactions and shared learning experiences
  • Introduce children to nursery rhymes, songs, and chants 

When teachers and parents plan children’s environments and activities carefully so that literacy is an integral part of everything they do, then literacy learning becomes a natural and meaningful part of children’s everyday lives (J. Schickedanz, 1986).


Hohmann, M. & Weikart, D. (1995). Educating young children. Ypsilanti, Michigan: High/Scope Press.

Mandel Morrow, L. (1997). The literacy center. York, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

Neuman, S., Copple, C. & Bredekamp, S. (2000). Learning to read and write. National Association for the
Education of Young Children.

Schickedanz, J. (1986). More than the ABC’s. National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Suggested Books for Young Readers

Are You My Mother? (Eastman) 
ISBN 0394800184

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Martin) 
ISBN 0805017445

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! (Martin & Archambault)
ISBN 068983568X

Goodnight Moon (Wise Brown)
ISBN 0064430170

If You Give A Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff)
ISBN 0060245867

The Doorbell Rang (Hutchins)
ISBN 0688092349

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle)
ISBN 0399208534

Whose Mouse Are You? (Krauss)
ISBN 0689711425

The Snowy Day (Keats)
ISBN 0670654000

The Mitten (Brett)
ISBN 039921920X

Being read to by parents, family members, and other significant adults creates a close physical and personal
bond, so children associate the satisfaction of warm human relationships with stories and readings (M. Hohmann & D.
Weikart, 1995).

Reproduction of this material is hereby authorized, provided the use of the material is both educational and non-commercial.