Family Reading Experience

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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 support families as they encourage a love of reading through access to books, especially those that reflect the diversity of the world.

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 successfully host a Family Reading Experience, each PTA should host one Literacy Activity and share at least one resource from the Information and Tools for Families toolkit with their school community.

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

Literacy Activities to Host for Your School Community

 

PTAs will host events and activities 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
  • 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).

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

Potential hard costs: Books, inclusive promotional materials, author fee, virtual platform, audio book subscriptions, shipping

Literacy Events and Activities for PTAs Toolkit

Book Bingo: Make reading fun with Book Bingo! The game rewards students for reading books that they want to read!

Build a Library: Here are a few budget-friendly children’s books to keep bedtime stories from turning into nightmares for your budget.

Connecting Families with Inclusive Books: Here’s a guide to help parents and teachers understand the importance of inclusive reading and to navigate them through the process of selecting thoughtful and diverse reading choices.

Hosting a Visiting Author or Illustrator: Planning an author or illustrator visit is easier than you might suspect and a terrific way to enhance literacy in your school community.   

Stage a Community Book Swap: Make sure all families in your school community have access to high-interest book by planning a book swap. Here’s a guide on how.

Stage a Community Read: Plan to share the same book across grades, the entire school or the school district to bring together readers and enhance your entire community’s culture of literacy.

Stage a Virtual Bedtime Story: Choose a theme that is easily replicable by families at home and invite students and parents to dress for the occasion.



Family Resources to Share with Your School Community

 

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)

Empower your school community to be diversity advocates and reading rockstars.

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

Information Distribution Toolkit

Around the World With a Book: These books offer an entertaining and informative chance to travel the world, all without leaving the comforts of home!

Bring Poetry to Your Storytime: Check out these kid-friendly poetry books to put a little pep in your storytime!

Dance ‘til You Drop: Dance-themed book suggestions to shake up your storytime and add a little wiggle and some giggles to your reading routine.

Get Outside with a Great Book: These book selections will help your family hit the reset button by taking your reading out into nature.

Got Bird on the Brain: Here are some stellar bird books for elementary students to inform and inspire.

Graphic Novels to Support Visual Readers: Did you know that graphic novels can offer a massive boost to young readers? Get started reading some with this list.

How to Read A Picture BookThere is a powerful part of your students’ reading toolkit that supports literacy without relying on text—the wordless picture book.

It All Adds Up to Fun: These STEM books are a terrific way for your child to explore different ways of thinking and learn about leaders in scientific fields.

It's All Relative: Here are some books that celebrate family with stories that can connect relatives across generations and across the miles.

Musical Picture Books: Even if your child has no interest in actually playing an instrument, the rhythm and musicality of these books promotes a multi-sensory reading experience.

Nurturing Young Artists Through Picture Books: Read these books about art and artists to spur imagination and support artistic growth in young readers.  

Reading Aloud: Here are some ideas make reading aloud to your child fun. It can be a developmental game-changer and may quickly become the highlight of your bedtime routine.

Supporting Readers: Here are some tips for home to help choose books that hold the interest of kids everywhere along the reading spectrum.

The Scoop on Poop: Nothing gets giggles like good ol’ poop humor. Here are some books that bring party time to potty time!

Unexpected Alphabet Books for Kids: Sure, everyone knows the rhymey alphabet song, but check out these fun abecedary books to elevate your storytime and your alphabet game.

Using Biographies to Grow Young Readers Identities: Here we’ll look at some ways your child can benefit from reading biographies, as well as book suggestions to get you started.

Using Books to Grow Your Child's Emotional Vocabulary: Here are a handful of picture books that tackle a range of big feelings common to little readers.

Using Picture Books to Grow Your Child's Emotional Intelligence: We have collected a list of stories that will help your child recognize their own emotional states and be sensitive to those feelings in others.

Visit The World's Biggest Library: The Library of Congress, which sits on Capitol Hill Washington, DC, contains over 170 million items in its collection and is the nation’s oldest cultural institution.

Your Public LibraryHere are some tips to help you maximize the incredible—and free—public resource in your community.



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 www.rif.org/pta. 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





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Collaborators

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Questions?

Email Programs@PTA.org or call (800) 307-4782.