post by Jamie Utecht, 2018-19 Associate of The Educator Collaborative
6 Tips for Planning a Successful Family Literacy Night
As the Title 1 intervention teacher in our district, I have had the opportunity to plan a number of Family Literacy Nights at the end of the year as a way to celebrate students’ literacy success as well as to share resources for summer reading and writing. The night is always a lot of fun, and it has evolved from year to year. Today, I would like to share some of the tips I have learned along the way that have made my literacy nights a success!
TIP #1: Team up with other colleagues to plan the event.
It is always so much better when more people come together to help plan an event. This past year, I teamed up with our art teacher to plan the activities for the event. This made it so much fun! We did a camp theme and designed different stations at which students and their families could stop. We had an art station where they made a bookmark, a music station where they could sing campfire songs, and stations where they were able to visit with classroom teachers. Your media specialist, librarian, technology coordinator, and/or literacy specialist are just some of the colleagues you might partner with to make your event as lively as ours was.
TIP #2: Invite the public library to partner with you.
We have done this every year, and it has been a huge success. Our public librarian comes with information on the summer reading program and information for families regarding signing up for a public library card. The students love this because they get a sneak peek as to what is happening at the library in the summer. If you are planning a literacy night earlier in the year, this could be a nice way for families to preview the kinds of programming that will be offered at the public library all year long.
TIP #3: Find a way to put books directly into the hands of your students.
Every year we set money aside to buy books for the event. These books are purchased and then sent home with the students. At the end of the night, they are able to go into the cafeteria for a snack and a book of their choice. The best part about it? They are able to keep the book! You might also ask families of older children to donate any gently used books they would like to pass on. (Library book sales are another great way to get used books at a low price!)
TIP #4: Team up with your school librarian.
Again, it seems simple, but it is really amazing to get families to spend time in your school library. In the past, our school librarian was able to talk to families about engaging titles, encourage students to check out books over the summer (or over school break), and even offer families activities that go along with some of the books.
TIP #5: Share student work.
When the students go to visit their classrooms, their teachers are ready with different student work from the year to share with families. Teachers have shared writing pieces, book projects, and even math projects. This is a night designed to celebrate students, so it is so important to celebrate their success in as many ways as you can!
TIP #6: Have fun!
It is so exciting to see the smiles of our students as they walk into the school for our annual literacy night. They are excited to show off the fun things happening, and they are even more excited to leave with a new book. The last two years we have planned the night as a scavenger hunt through the school. The scavenger hunt has made the night engaging and has motivated more students to attend the event.
I hope these suggestions help you plan a fun and successful literacy night for your students and their families! This is one of my favorite nights of the year, and I always enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of our students as they leave. It is so wonderful getting students excited about literacy!
What tips or tricks do you have to offer for planning a successful family literacy night? Please share in the comments below!