Four Ways to Engage Parents and Families in Reading Time

Today is National Family Literacy Day, created by our friends at the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) to celebrate families who are improving their lives through continued learning.

This issue is an important one for the classrooms and community programs that First Book serves. We recently asked hundreds of educators who recently joined the First Book network about the biggest challenges they face, and parent engagement was at the top of the list.

If you work with kids in need — at a school, community program or local nonprofit — you can sign up with First Book to get new books. And, in honor of National Family Literacy Day, here’s a few ideas for how you can use First Book to encourage reading at home:

  • Go beyond books. First Book carries over 5,000 great titles on the First Book Marketplace, our online store. You can pair these books with activities to make reading a family activity. For example, the National PTA’s Family Reading Experience, Powered by Kindle, is a set of free activities — in English and Spanish — that engage the entire family and focus on improving the reading skills of children between kindergarten and fifth grade.
  • Use books as incentives. The educators we work with use a lot of methods to involved parents in their children’s education, from parent-teacher conferences to family reading nights to reading breakfasts. First Book can help you get free books to give away at these events to help families build home libraries.
  • Help parents with tips. Not every parent feels able to help their child become a stronger reader, but there are tools and resources out there that can help. Our friends at Reading Rockets have some amazing free tips (in 10+ languages) for parents, grandparents and other caring adults about how they can read with the children in their lives. First Book’s Mind In the Making section also includes tip sheets for how to read those books with kids.
  • Start a family literacy program. Designate a corner of your school library or community center as a family reading space. When kids bring a caring adult in to read with them, invite them to take a book home to keep, or invite parents into your school or program to read their favorite book with your students.
image of a young woman laying in the grass, smiling and reading a book. There is light blue boxes with purple text that say, 'Share Your Favorite Summer Read for Our New Online Album. Take a selfie with your favorite summer read and upload it by July 22 to celebrate our First Book family and the work we’re doing together! Send your selfie.'