Family Reading Experience

In This Section

Join PTA For Your Child

Notes from the Backpack Podcast

Family Reading Experience

Setting You Up for Success

National PTA is committed to helping families support their child’s development of literacy skills and encourage a love of reading through access to books, particularly those that reflect the diversity of our world.

Studies show...

  • Just like going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading regularly improves memory function by giving your brain a good workout.
  • Reading books about different people, places and experiences is critical to healthy child development and should be a priority, particularly in early literacy.
  • A parent’s understanding of each element at play in their child’s school reading life will support their personal growth, and their advocacy can serve the greater student community.

Father and Son Reading

Children Reading Books

PTAs Can Host a Family Reading Experience Event


We encourage local PTAs to host a Family Reading Experience program to promote family reading time and evaluate their school library’s catalogue to ensure that all children see themselves represented.

The Family Reading Experience aims to:

  • Empower PTAs with information on hosting literacy activities that improve book access and book choice and incorporate a lens of diversity and representation
  • Provide families with ready-to-go literacy resources
  • Equip families in-need with books during this school year

The program offers guidance on how to host literacy activities that improve book access and book choice, incorporate a lens of diversity and representation and provide families with ready-to-go literacy resources.

To fulfill grant requirements, each PTA grantee is required to host one Literacy Activity and share at least one resource from the Information and Tools for Families toolkit with their school community. The toolkits and resources will be available at

We will also create opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing throughout the year.

Literacy Activities to Host for Your School Community


Work with your school community and your administration to determine which activity is best for your PTA. Use the toolkit to ensure implementation success.

Option 1. Literacy Event

PTAs will host virtual events to promote the excitement of reading, so students and parents are more likely to read together and to read for fun. Literacy event examples include:

  • Virtual Read-Aloud with special guest (i.e., author, community member, etc.)
  • Online Read-a-Thon

Potential hard costs: Books, inclusive promotional materials, author fee, virtual platform

Option 2. Book Distribution

PTAs will host a book distribution. In this time when parents are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their child’s academic achievement, it is more important than ever for PTAs to improve students’ access to books, especially books that interest them (book choice) and books that are diverse and representative. This component extends beyond the school and is a chance to engage with the local community. Book distribution examples include:

  • Book drops at a local community space for families to use year-round, like a Book Depot
  • Host book giveaways throughout the school year and especially before summer vacation
  • Refresh teachers’ classroom libraries with new books for students to check-out
  • Create alternative options (e.g., discounted audio book libraries).

Potential hard costs: Books, audio book subscriptions, shipping.

Family Resources to Share with Your School Community


Empower your school community to be diversity advocates and reading rockstars. Use the toolkit provided at to find resources appropriate for all ages and all families.

Information Distribution

PTAs will act as content providers/trainers and provide tools for parents and/or students to increase their literacy knowledge. Examples of information distribution include:

  • Literacy updates for parents in PTA newsletters
  • Tips on how to make reading fun at home and how to find the “right” books (representative, aligned with interests, at skill-level)
  • Resources on audio books as an alternative that’s especially beneficial for the low literacy population
  • Information on how to get library cards and use the library
  • Reading tracker tools and incentives
  • Information on addressing important topics using books (e.g., race, bullying, identity)

Potential hard costs: Printing materials, access to online platforms, translation services

Family Reading Together

Grandparent Reading to Grandchild

Mother and Daughter Reading

In-Person Family Reading Experience Toolkit

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Family Reading Experience Toolkit helped PTAs facilitate in-person gatherings. We are preserving this toolkit below, and we hope to resume use of it with refreshed materials when the Center for Disease Control advises that conditions are safe for group gatherings to resume. Engage families in reading fun at your school by hosting a PTA Family Reading Experience using our Experience Guide.

This guide is organized into 5 steps with links to materials and sample templates you can customize for your own PTA and school. Add: See below for the free program resources that will make your program a success. Consider any CDC and school guidelines and protocols in place for group gatherings as you plan your program.

Engage families in reading fun at your school by hosting a PTA Family Reading Experience using our Experience Guide. This guide is organized into 5 steps with links to materials and sample templates you can customize for your own PTA and school. 

Step 1: Plan Your Family Reading Experience

Connect with school administrators, community members, librarians and school literacy specialists to discuss the objectives for this event as well as logistics (e.g. location, date, time, promotion, etc.). Reach out to community businesses to secure food/prize donations. Consider using the reading activities from Reading is Fundamental (RIF) or the additional activity resources provided.

  • Visit RIF’s customized PTA portal at This site contains free recommended book lists and interactive activities for each book title.
  • Review the RIF book list for your grade band K-2 or 3-5.
  • Choose a book (or books) from the provided list to showcase during your Family Reading Experience.
  • Discuss the expected size of your event and how many copies of the book will be needed.
    • Explore ways to obtain books or book sets (e.g. local library, RIF discounted books offered at $3/book via RIF's PTA portal - allow up to 4 weeks for shipping).
    • Explore ways to provide whole/small group read-alouds with fewer books.
  • Familiarize yourself with the free book extension activities from RIF’s PTA portal, that accompany your book selection(s) or use these ideas to create new activities.
Step 2: Recruit Volunteers

Recruit your PTA Family Reading Experience Team, including teachers and school librarians. Assign volunteer roles and gather event materials. Consider partnering with a local High School or business for non-PTA volunteers so your families can take part in the event.

  • Suggested Volunteer Roles
    • 2 to promote your event
    • 1 to secure food/drinks and prizes for the event
    • 2 to set up the event and clean up the event
    • 1 to greet and thank families as they enter and exit the event
    • 3-4 to secure books, choose activities for each book, facilitate book read-alouds and facilitate activity stations
    • 1 to take pictures and post to social media (#PTA Proud)
Step 3: Promote Your Family Reading Experience

Use these customizable flyers and templates to promote your event for students, families and community members.

Step 4: Host Your Event
  • Before the Event
    • Make a welcome sign (in multiple languages if applicable) prior to the event.
    • Gather books, set up activity stations and print activities prior to the event.
  • During the Event
    • Welcome families upon arrival, encourage them to sign in and join the PTA.
    • Facilitate read-alouds and activity stations.
    • Take plenty of pictures to share!
    • Use the Be a Reading Champion tip sheet (en español) when reading aloud and print copies for families to take home.
  • After the Event
    • Closing: Thank families for attending and volunteers for their amazing work!
    • Clean-Up
Step 5: Wrap Up

Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast

Notes from the Backpack is a PTA podcast designed for millions of parents and the decisionmakers they influence. Each episode features engaging conversations that offer real-life advice and ideas on how to support children’s learning and development—all in parent-friendly language.

Episodes Focused on Literacy

How many books on your children’s shelves feature Black and Brown characters? We spoke with Newbery Medal award-winning author, Kwame Alexander about the importance of representation in kids’ literature. He shared about his own writing process, how to inspire your kids to write and some of his favorite books.

We talked with Dr. Rebecca Silverman, professor at Stanford University, to learn how we can raise lifelong readers. She offered strategies for fostering a love of reading and guidance on what you should expect from your child at each age.

Learn how we refreshed the Family Reading Experience to intentionally incorporate the Four 'I's of Transformative Family Engagement in all activities and resources


Office Depot


Lee & Low Books


Email or call (800) 307-4782.