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Celebrate National Family Literacy Month

By: American Heritage11.02.23

Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, had the whole world’s well-being in mind when he said, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope—it is a bulwark against poverty and a building block of development.”

Astronomer Carl Sagan was thinking beyond our own space and time when he said, “Across the millennia, the author is speaking directly to you—proof that humans can work magic.” Unfortunately, not everyone in our communities gets to fully experience that magic. Nationwide, over half of adults read below a sixth-grade level, which has significant implications for health and financial wellness.

That’s why promoting family literacy is something we’re passionate about here at American Heritage. Thanks to all our members who have become Book Buddies during our annual Books for Kids campaigns, we’ve donated over 65,300 books to local hospitals, community centers, and shelters. Plus, when November rolls around, we like to celebrate National Family Literacy Month by raising awareness about the importance of reading together and sharing a few fun tips for upping your household’s daily dose of words.

Ready to boost your family’s literary life? Here are some ideas for readers of all ages.


1. Check Out Your Local Library

Did you know that America’s first public library was founded right here in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin? Today, our community libraries offer not just a vast assortment of books, but many other free resources like story hours, writing workshops, and summer reading programs—a true trove of knowledge for everyone.


2. Form a Family Book Club

The rules are simple: everyone takes turns selecting the book, and delicious snacks are to be served at each meeting. A family book club can foster a love for reading, strengthen bonds, and promote critical thinking skills as each member shares their unique perspective on the book’s characters and themes.


3. Create a Word Wall

Whether your kids are gearing up for kindergarten or the SAT, a word wall can be a creative, engaging vocab-building tool. Add new words and definitions each week, challenge each other to use them in everyday conversation, and reward whoever can spot the words in books or in the wild.


4. Establish a Nighttime Ritual

Every kid loves a good bedtime story, and if you’re a busy grownup, you might want to rediscover this timeless tradition, too. Reading in bed, whether aloud to a child or silently to yourself, can help relax the mind, improve quality of sleep, and enhance cognitive function for the day ahead.


5. Designate a Reading Nook

Sometimes, atmosphere is everything, and when it comes to escaping into a book, cozy is the word. Create a comfortable, well-lit corner with a selection of books, plush seating, and some soft blankets. Entering this dedicated space will tell your brain it’s time to sink into a world of stories.


6. Participate in a Reading Challenge

Reading doesn’t have to become a competitive sport, but sometimes a challenge can help you meet your goals while expanding your horizons. For adults and teens, check out the customizable Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Life Challenge. Budding bookworms might enjoy earning color-in badges as they embark on Scholastic’s reading adventure.


7. Turn TV Time Into Reading Time

Your TV doesn’t have to be a roadblock to reading. In fact, for beginning or struggling readers, it can be a highly valuable tool. Turning on subtitles while watching your favorite programs has been shown to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary building by linking words with visual and aural cues.


8. Go Graphic

Books with pictures aren’t a lesser form of literature: graphic novels can captivate avid and reluctant readers alike. They offer a diversity of stories and styles, appealing to history buffs, sci-fi fans, true romantics, and more. They can also provide a bridge between popular media and the world of books.


9. Have a Book for Dinner

Cookbooks are real-life spell books, and they’re a wonderful way for kids to develop reading proficiency while learning other valuable skills. In selecting and preparing a recipe, youngsters are encouraged to read instructions carefully, gain an understanding of measurements and proportions, and see how words make things come to life.


10. Start a Little Free Library on Your Block

You might not be Ben Franklin, but you can establish your very own public library in just one afternoon. This grassroots initiative has spread across the nation, allowing anyone to create free book exchanges in their neighborhood. Just find a safe spot, install a birdhouse-like box, register it, and enjoy!


Turn Over a New Page

Read more about American Heritage’s Books for Kids initiative and its impact on the community. Plus, when it comes to financial literacy, check out our life-stage planning resources and youth activities.



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