Family literacy is what happens when parents help their children learn to read and write, and what happens when children motivate and help their parents learn to read and write better. Family literacy is what happens when people who love and care about each other help each other to master reading and writing: two essential, but difficult, skills. Family literacy is what happens when we empower parents and children to learn together.
Why don’t we hear more about family literacy? Simply put, because we have outsourced literacy skills development to schools, and for adults, to Adult Basic Education programs. Unfortunately, the results of doing so are not good enough: only 1/3 of Americans can read above an 8th grade level, and only 1/3 of adults who enroll in an ABE program stay long enough to achieve a gain of two grade levels from wherever they started.
Family literacy programs achieve better outcomes by having parents help their children to stick with their education until they are fully literate, and by having children help their parents if they are not yet literate. Learning to read and write well is a long, difficult project – too difficult for most people to complete on their own. When family members continuously push, prod, help and encourage their loved ones to keep at it, they succeed. The payoff is higher wages, better quality of life and a better life for the next generation of family members.