Do you want to involve more families in your family literacy events at school? Would you like to have rocking events that families will love? Here are some family literacy night ideas and tips that will set you on the road to success.
Think About Your Why
Our “why” for wanting to hold family literacy nights is more than ticking a requirement for Title I or fulfilling a district mandate.
Family literacy nights can:
- build family and school connections and partnerships
- help families connect over books
- support families with assisting their kids
- excite families about reading
- provide ideas to try at home
- share about developmentally appropriate expectations
- show the benefits of a readerly life
Now that we know why we truly hold literacy events, let’s plan a great one with these tips and ideas.
Organizing the Event
Know Your Audience
Before we can design a successful event we have to think about our audience. For example, if you were throwing a birthday party for a 1-year-old, you probably wouldn’t serve sushi, show the kids how to fold origami, and teach the kids to write words in Japanese.
Think about your audience including their background, ages, and experiences. Specifically be aware of two areas.
Many of us work in culturally diverse settings which is wonderful and full of rich opportunities for family events. For many of our families, English may not be their primary language. We need to provide resources and services that will make the setting supportive to all families we serve.
Some of our families may have had limited educational opportunities and may not feel comfortable coming into an educational setting. Others may have had bad or uncomfortable experiences as students and now avoid the school setting. Both are things to keep in mind as we plan.
Pick a Theme
Once we know our why and who we are serving, we are ready to pick a theme for our family literacy night.
Here are just a few themes that are fun and educational.
- Books and Jammies
- Reading Camp In
- A Night at the Movies
- Travel Around the World
- Book Themed Trunk or Treat
I’m working on creating theme nights that will have everything planned for you. Those will be coming soon! Sign up for the free newsletter to find out when they are available.—>Subscribe Here
Depending on staffing resources and size of the crowd, you’ll need to choose if you want to do station activities or a whole group activity.
Group Activity Ideas
- Professional Storyteller
- Book Bingo
- Reading Picnic (have books in native languages)
Station Activity Ideas
- Make and Takes
- Library Card Sign-Ups
- Photo Booth (great for documenting the event and sending home a keepsake)
If you are planning on having stations where families will rotate from one station to the next, you will need extra staffing. Your own staff will appreciate the opportunity to sign up for areas they would like to work so having a sign-up sheet is a good idea.
Also, seek out volunteers. High school students often need service hours and will be willing to volunteer. Former students, college students, and friends & family may also be willing to help.
Promote the Event
Promote, promote, promote, and then promote again. Families need lots of reminders.
Here are just a few ways to promote your event.
- Written Invitations
- Phone Calls
- Flyers (send home and hang up throughout the school)
- Phone Calls or Phone Blasts
- Text Messages
- Social Media (school website, Facebook page, etc.)
- School Calendar
- School Marquee
If you are having an event where food will need to be ordered or supplies will need to be prepared and a head count is crucial, have families RSVP and then send home tickets.
If you want families to feel comfortable and return for future events, the being prepared for when they arrive is crucial. Make sure everything is prepped and ready to go before the first family arrives.
If families will be going to stations or multiple locations, have a map with labels ready and copies of the maps for families.
Funding and Resources
Family nights can be simple and economical or more elaborate. But, all will require some funding. Title 1 funds may be used so check with your title coordinator.
Also, ask local businesses for donations and/or discounts. Many will provide funds for you to purchase materials or give discounts to purchase items. Don’t overlook your food service provider for food needs. They are often an economical way to provide food at your event.
Tips for Improving Attendance
We all want our events to be successful and that means getting the word out and having families show up to participate. Promotion of the event is crucial. See above for ideas on promoting the event.
Here are some tips for improving the attendance rate at your event.
- Be Welcoming
- Offer Dinner- Pizza, sandwiches, and hot dogs are easy and economical choices. Plus, families don’t have to think about feeding their family before or after the event.
- Make The Event Fun
- Vary the Dates and Times- Accommodate family work schedules.
- Remind, Remind, Remind- Advertise early, send out flyers, and display on school marquee.
- Give Out Door Prizes
Get Your Printable Checklist to Plan a Successful Family Literacy Event
I want you to have a successful event so I’ve put together a printable checklist together to help you plan the event. Just click the green button below to download.
Get even more resources for empowering families to find the time, confidence, and resources to build literacy skills at home.—>CHECK OUT THE EMPOWERING FAMILIES RESOURCE
Great ideas! Thank you so much!! Did you ever get the theme nights pUt together? If so i would lOve to see them!
arturo rivera says
my name is Arturo and I came across your website regarding ideas for a family literacy night event at our middle school. thank you for sharing your ideas and was wondering If you’ve held a family literacy night for middle school families that speak predominately Spanish? what are some successes? what are some challenges? how can we get middle school students to attend family literacy night? any information is greatly appreciated.
Vanda Szymanko says
Thanks Josie for the Ideas. I’m in a masters of education program with the emphasis on reading and am planning a literacy night as an assignment and for my school.
your ideas were great!