20 Ways to Celebrate National Family Literacy Day

Did you know the single greatest indicator of children’s success is the literacy level of their parents? Did you know that parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy?

November 1st kicks off National Literacy Month with a day designated as National Family Literacy Day. First designated in 1994, the day is meant to bring awareness to the importance of family literacy through the encouragement and education of both parents of and caregivers for children, and focuses on the powerful lifelong learning ripple effect they can ignite simply by participating in their children’s literacy practices.

Here is what research has demonstrated regarding that ripple effect:

  1. Success in reading is a gateway to success in other academic areas.
  2. The earlier parents get involved in a child’s literacy the better, and the longer lasting the effects. Parental literacy involvement continues to be a top predictor of achievement into the teen and adult years.
  3. A day focused on literacy can promote literacy across an entire community.

Here are some innovative ideas for celebrating #NationalLiteracyDay today and every day. We’ve included 10 ideas to use at home and 10 ideas for the classroom.

Encouraging Reading at Home:

  1. Get Older Siblings Reading to Their Younger Siblings. It’s great practice for big bro or big sis to explain big words or summarize the story, and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate a love of reading to little bro or sis.
  2. Practice Reading “Popcorn” Style. Each family member can read a page or two and then “popcorn pass” to the family member of their choice.
  3. Take Turns choosing the book or the book reading location of the night.
  4. Plan Themed Reading Nights. Pitch a tent in the living room and “camp out” while you read, or build a “bear cave” fort and read books about bears. Let your imagination take your themes to the next level.
  5. Incorporate Fun Accessories. Make your own bookmarks or sand timers. Invest in kid-friendly reading lights.
  6. Involve Distant Family and Friends. Books can be read aloud over FaceTime or Skype. Record your child reading their favorite book and send the video to loved ones.
  7. Read and Watch. Choose a book that has been turned into a movie. Read the book first and then schedule a family movie night to see the book come to life on the screen.
  8. Schedule It. Reading should be an activity as important as our kids’ various practices, lessons and play dates. If it’s on the calendar, it will become a higher priority.
  9. Book Swap. Get other families involved in a periodic book swap where kids can lend and borrow books from friends in the neighborhood or other social circles.
  10. Dinner Talk. Books can be a topic of discussion at family dinner. Ask family members to share about the latest books they’ve enjoyed, or how the plot is twisting in their latest chapter book.

Check out Four Ways Adults Can Support Literacy for more ideas.

Tips for the classroom:

  1. Reading Guests. Offer opportunities for family members to come in and be a special reading guest. Encourage the guests to read a favorite story from their childhood or a personal anecdote about reading.
  2. Familiarize Parents with Classroom Reading Tools. Let parents know about the games and activities used in the classroom to help students develop literacy skills and encourage them to practice at home.
  3. Create bookmarks. Have students make their own bookmarks and ask them to include why they love to read.
  4. Pass Out Copies of the Local Library Calendar. Spread the word about what events are happening around the community throughout the month of November.
  5. Write a Story Round Robin Style. A great way to practice understanding the elements of a story is by having students write a story piece by piece. You can also end up with a pretty silly story in the end.
  6. Book Drive. Partner with a local charity book drive and encourage children and families to donate a book.
  7. Book Show and Tell. Children can bring in a favorite book and give a short presentation to their classmates.
  8. Workshop. Inform parents of effective ways to incorporate reading and learning activities with their children at home.
  9. Reading Buddy System. Partner classrooms of varying-aged students to read books and share stories in pairs of older and younger students.
  10. Book Experts. Invite the school librarian, community librarian or perhaps a local publisher or author to share about their job, or the ins and outs of how books are written and published.

We hope you take the time to celebrate National Family Literacy Day today and include reading in your daily routine! Leave us a comment below with your favorite reading tradition or book!

Check out these resources to help families or classrooms extend their library:

And for more, see:

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Jessica Slusser

Jessica is the Senior Director of Impact at Getting Smart. She leads business development and growth of advocacy campaigns, advisory services, product development, marketing, and Getting Smart's blog. As part of her role, Jessica also oversees team events, conferences, and speaking engagements.

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