What: In a society dominated by smartphones, computers and video games, kids may often come home from school and flick on the TV or go online, instead of settling in with a book. Meanwhile, parents are bringing their work home with them, from checking emails to returning work-related text messages. In November, put the importance back on reading together as a family during National Family Literacy Day.
Background: In 1994, the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) launched National Family Literacy Day as a way to encourage both parents and children to read and support each other in educational endeavors. According to the NCFL, 34 million adults read below basic literacy levels. This means they cannot even fill out a job application or read a prescription bottle. The importance of literacy for all ages has never been greater. Reading as a family can not only help families support each other’s literacy, but also show both children and adults that reading can be fun.
Story Pitch: Various organizations and groups can pitch around this event. Local libraries will want to encourage reading by offering family reading events, while school libraries may suggest extra reading time for students. Teachers should also make parents aware of literacy issues and can encourage them to read with their children. They may want to suggest certain books that may be of interest to different age groups. Book publishers can also stress the importance of reading by highlighting books of interest for different demographics and ages. Authors have the chance to pitch their works around this event, promoting them at bookshops, schools and online sellers. Book retailers can also take this time to campaign with featured books, sales and promotions.
Story Hook: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who read at home are not only better readers, but have higher math scores. Yet as students get older, time spent reading for fun diminishes. Consider the following when you make your pitch:
- How can parents and older adults be encouraged to read more?
- What is the average reading level for children? Do most children read on grade level or above?
- What types of books interest adults most? Children? High school-aged youth?
- How can parents encourage children to put down the video games and read a book? What methods of encouragement work the best?
Tips: A teacher or school librarian who specializes in children’s books would be a great resource on literacy issues impacting schools. In addition, parents and families who regularly read with children would also add a human interest element to the story.
International Reading Association
National Center for Family Literacy
National Education Association