History of the Holiday
Organizations that work to improve children’s academic outcomes have long known that parental involvement is key to raising bright and motivated children. In the early 1990s the president and founder of the National Center for Families Learning, Sharon Darling, decided to take this mission public to improve learning outcomes nation-wide. Under her direction, the NCFL worked with Congress to create a national holiday devoted to encouraging family reading.
In 1994, Congress passed a Joint Resolution designating November 1st National Family Literacy Day. This day kicks off a full month of celebrating family reading with National Family Literacy Month! This holiday is meant to bring awareness to the importance of family literacy and encourage parents and caregivers to read to their child. One important message is the ripple effect of lifelong learning parents can spark by reading with their child.
Schools, libraries, and literacy organizations celebrate by holding read-a-thons, book drives, writing to their favorite authors, and more. This day is a great opportunity to celebrate the joys and the benefits of reading!
Why Read to Your Child?
Reading habits start early. In fact, it’s never too early to read to your children! Even before they understand the words, hearing you read aloud helps acclimate them to syntax and grammar, gives them a basic understanding of how books work, and gets them in the reading habit.
Children who hear more words early in life process language more easily and build a stronger vocabulary. Watching you hold a book and helping turn the pages from left to right builds their reading muscle memory.
But the benefits of family ready aren’t only academic. Reading aloud helps form social skills – even in infants! Reading together helps familiarize your child with the give and take of a social interaction. When you ask your child “where’s the doggy” and they point to the puppy on the page, they’re practicing having a conversation. This also helps develop your child’s social and emotional development. Hearing how characters interact – especially if you make different voices – helps your baby recognize different emotions and expressive sounds.
Most importantly, family reading is a bonding activity. Snuggled up in your lap, turning pages together, your child gets to experience the thing that makes them feel safe and secure: your closeness, cuddles, and voice. And as an added bonus, this positive sensory experience will become associated with reading, encouraging a life-long habit!
Hardcopy or Digital?
More than 20 years after the inception of National Family Literacy Day, most people recognize the importance of encouraging early literacy, and there are more options to support literacy than ever before! Apps, eBooks, audiobooks, electronic toys, YouTube videos, TV shows, and more…. it can be difficult to know where to start.
While easy access to reading opportunities is a wonderful thing, the truth is that reading out loud from a physical book is better than reading from a digital book or playing an audiobook or video.
In March of 2019, researchers at the University of Michigan published a study in the journal Pediatrics. This study followed nearly 40 parents reading similar books to their toddlers in three different formats: a print book, an eBook, and an interactive eBook. Their findings suggest that reading from a digital book limits the parent-child interactions that support the academic, social, and emotional benefits outlined above.
Of course, reading digital books still has value. Children are still exposed to language and syntax, but it’s a less complete learning experience. Try working in some family reading time, in addition to audiobooks, eBooks, and reading games. This November is the perfect time to start a tradition of reading bedtime stories, or even just to take a cold and windy day indoors, snuggled up on the couch reading together.
Where to Start - Plus a 10% Off Discount!
Platypus Media seeks to foster warmth, family closeness, literacy, and curiosity with our books, making them a great place to start your family reading journey this National Family Literacy Month. To sweeten the deal, we’re offering 10% off and free shipping all month long site-wide with code FAMREAD.
Try reading these books with your child:
If My Mom Were A Platypus
All mammal mothers feed, protect, and teach their young, even though these tasks can challenge their own needs for survival. But a mammal baby’s journey to maturity varies dramatically depending on whether it is a bear or a bat, a shrew or a seal, a hippopotamus or a human. This fascinating look at life cycles portrays the normalcy of birth and breastfeeding and explores how mothers help 14 different mammals navigate the path from helpless infants to self-sufficient adults.
Available in English and in Spanish.
This beautiful book introduces the most natural and loving act—mothers nursing their young. Luminous illustrations and lyrical text give children a glimpse into the worlds of 13 different mammal babies. Compelling childhood facts also broaden the reader’s knowledge about each animal. More than a simple scientific introduction, this sweet book is an instance and an analogy of caring love. Showing children attachment in the natural world fosters empathy, kindness, and compassion in both their interpersonal and interspecies interactions.
Available in English and bilingual English/Spanish editions.
Cuddled and Carried
Babies—whether in snowy dens, warm lagoons, cozy nests, or living rooms—are carried and cuddled, nurtured and nuzzled. Stunning images and gentle verse will capture the curiosity of even the youngest readers as they see how animal mothers tend to their cubs, pups, calves, and chicks. Watching mothers lend a paw, wing, flipper, or hand to care for their young fosters empathy, kindness, and compassion.
Available in English and bilingual English/Spanish editions.
Tell us: what will you be reading this National Family Literacy Month?