Overcoming Family Illiteracy

Admittedly, I have placed a lot of emphasis on childhood illiteracy.  One issue that I haven’t addressed in depth is what happens when both parent and child are illiterate?  This presents a special challenge because parents are often ashamed of admitting to their children that they can’t read.  What would you do if your child asked you to read her a book and you couldn’t?  The solution isn’t easy but there are some ways that both child and parent can overcome illiteracy.  Literacy advocates can do the following:

1. Encourage parents to attend their child’s tutoring lessons:  By “tagging along” it has been shown that parents are at first passively engaged, then over time, they become more engaged.  This makes them want to enhance their own skill and seek out adult literacy programs.  A lot of literacy tutoring programs also have an adult component, so that parent and child can learn to read at different times, but in different settings.

2.Make sure there are books within the home:  The mission of First Book and Reach Out and Read is to make sure that children have access to books in their homes.  By doing so, parents also have access to books.  When a child practices reading to their parent, the parent is also presented with a learning opportunity.

3.Promote family literacy:  There is a great emphasis on childhood illiteracy, but parents sometimes fell left by the wayside.  By encouraging the entire family to take part in the process, literacy advocates cam make an impact on the literacy of the entire family.


Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011


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