Janes and Kermani (2001) documented and demonstrated how the initial strategies at the outset of a
family literacy program were changed for greater effectiveness after the interest of the participants, a high
proportion of whom were immigrants, was taken into account. Practitioners first tried to show the parents
how to read to the children in an interactive way, by asking questions that require high cognitive skills.
This approach quickly discouraged adults with low reading skills, as well as their children. To make the
activities more enjoyable, the practitioners changed their strategy and asked participants to create their
own stories to share with their children. Positive effects were subsequently observed on the retention
rates of parents as well as on the reading outcomes. Parents were proud of their creation of texts and there
was an exchange of positive values between parents and children.
Osterling et al. (1999) documented two programs in Virginia, Empowering Families Through Literacy and
Escuelk Bolivia. The workshops in these programs were conducted in Spanish in order to acknowledge and
value the participants' first language. These programs pursued the following goals:
These goals are applicable to family literacy programs in French in a Francophone minority setting.
Caspe (2003) documented the Intergenerational Literacy Project (ILP),which was designed for immigrant
families who want to improve their literacy in English and be more supportive in their children's education.
The point of departure is the hypothesis that the family environment as well as the literacy skills of the
parent exert an influence on the child's cognitive development. The participating parents are encouraged
to read, respond to literary material of interest to them, learn strategies for talking with their children
about books and share their literacy experiences with their friends and their teachers. The workshops
include four elements: daily reflections, group discussion, analysis and summaries in small groups. It
focuses on the knowledge and information that enable families to survive, progress, and experience
success. In this approach, the experiences and knowledge of families are used as learning resources that
serve as the basis for educational programs.
The literacy program of the Jane Adams School for Democracy differs from other models in that it does not
require following a complicated manual of learning activities. The parents merely gather together and
become co-creators of the learning process. They use learning circles that include two components: the big
circle and learning dyads. The learning circle or cultural circle, inspired by Freire, aims at building critical
literacy among individuals and groups. It involves a discussion group in which the educators and learners
use photos, drawings or words to represent their daily lives with a view to engaging in a dialogue on their
life experiences. The group, accompanied by a facilitator who sees to it that the point of view of each
participant is fully valued, is a context that makes it possible to share one's concerns and find ways of
improving problematic situations (Freire, cited in Caspe 2003).