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Family Literacy

family of four reading a book, cottonbro sudio

Family literacy programs empower parents and caregivers to become their children's first teachers as they explore the world of reading and learning together. By engaging in shared literacy activities, families can strengthen their bonds, boost children's academic success, and instill a lifelong passion for reading, ultimately leading to greater opportunities and brighter futures for all family members.

Designed to assist family literacy practitioners, educators, and families, these comprehensive book-centered lesson plans offer a range of activities that foster joyful learning experiences and cultivate lifelong literacy skills for every member of the family.

Why literacy is important?

Children who read 20 minutes each dat are exposed to 1.8 million words per year

At age 5 children's vocabulary is predictive of their educational success at age 30. Source: Feinstein and Duckworth, Center for Research on the WBL, 2006.

Children who are read to at least 3 times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% of reading        

The reading skill of a child's main caregiver is the greatest determinant of that child's future academic success, more significant than other factors like neighborhood or family income

Book-centered lesson plans

Each of the book-centered lesson plans encompasses five components: an adult literacy lesson plan, a caregiver activity, an interactive learning activity, an early childhood lesson plan, and related resources. These lessons, which align with Career and College Readiness Standards (CCRS), Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education (ECE) standards, and set Adult Child Interactive Reading Inventory (ACIRI) behavioral goals, can be accessed online or printed. Designed to promote literacy, engage parents and caregivers, and provide age-appropriate activities, these lessons offer a meaningful and enjoyable learning experience for both adults and children. Click on the hyperlinked title beneath the cover image for book homepages.

Put It on the List cover cover image of A Tree for Me by Nancy Van Laan Cover image of Move Over Rover, white dog in doghouse with mouse peering in
Put It on the List! A Tree for Me Move Over, Rover!
Cover image of King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats by Dori Hillestad Butler, lessons linked below Cover image of Catch Me if You Can! by Bernard Most lessons linked below
King & Kayla
and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats
A Big Mooncake
for Little Star
Catch Me If You Can!

Additional Activities

Book homepages feature additional activities that aim to engage and captivate young readers. These activities complement the reading experience, fostering creativity and extending the enjoyment beyond the story.


Booklists included within the lessons are designed to spark curiosity and inspire a love for reading. With countless books available, it can be overwhelming to choose age-appropriate and engaging reads for early literacy. The accompanying booklists provide curated recommendations, saving time and effort for families and practitioners. These lists can also be used to identify alternative titles in the event that the selected books in not available.

Glossary Terms

In order to enhance understanding and facilitate learning, a glossary is provided that defines key terminology used throughout the lessons. The glossary serves as a valuable resource for users, providing explanations of important terms related to family literacy. By including this glossary, we aim to ensure that users can easily grasp and comprehend the concepts presented within the lessons, promoting a more effective and engaging learning experience.

Text: Literacy Awards, Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program aims to boost the participation of non-profit organizations or programs in literacy and reading advocacy by acknowledging their accomplishments and fostering partnerships with similar organizations. The program has granted over $3 million in rewards to over 150 establishments in 38 countries since 2013. To read more about the awards, see the Library of Congress website.

The Family Literacy Activities section on our website is dedicated to our ultimate goal of ensuring that every Pennsylvanian becomes a proficient reader. These resources are grounded in research on emergent literacy and are specifically designed for parents, caregivers, and educators working with young children. The original activities were developed in 2004 under the guidance of Sara Willoughby-Herb, an early childhood educator and expert in emergent literacy, and were co-sponsored by The Goodling Institute. In 2023, the lessons were revised with input from Sara, along with the assistance of Bednar Intern Kristine Howes and literacy consultant Lori McMonigal. Illustrations were created by J. Harlan Ritchey, Krista Wallden, Madigan King, and Kristine Howes. For any inquiries, please contact Erica King,