Spring 2024      Volume 52, Number 2

Family Engagement in Literacy: Is It Worth the Effort?
By Laurie Elish-Piper

Document: Column  

Introductory Paragraph:  Teaching has always been complex and challenging, but recent developments have made it more difficult and demanding. In the past few years, educators have felt the impact of a global pandemic, political divisiveness, calls for racial justice, demographic shifts, technology developments in artificial intelligence, increased scrutiny on schools and teachers, activist groups focused on education, and a rise in mental health challenges. In addition, some parents’ rights advocacy groups have focused on reducing teachers’ professional judgment and challenging public schools in terms of curriculum, text choice, and initiatives that center on diversity, equity, and inclusion (Stanford, 2023b). Because of this type of advocacy,

[p]olicies that have passed in a number of individual school districts, states, and the U.S. House have spelled out parents’ rights to inspect curriculum materials and withdraw their children from lessons they deem objectionable; restricted teaching about race, gender identity, and sexuality; and resulted in the removal of books from school libraries, including many with LGBTQ+ characters and protagonists of color. (Stanford, 2023a, para. 3)


While this approach to parental roles in education conflicts with what many teachers view as the preferred and most productive approach to family engagement, these parents’ rights bills and policies have confirmed and foregrounded the importance that families play in their children’s education.

With this tension between what family engagement is and should be along with all the challenges that teachers are facing in their work and balancing in their lives, some may be wondering, “Does it make sense to invest effort, energy, and time into promoting family involvement and engagement in literacy education?” In this column, I share four key research findings about the impact of family engagement on children’s learning, well-being, and reading that answer this question.

DOI:  https://doi.org/10.33600/IRCJ.52.2.2024.43

Page Numbers:   43-47

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