Ironically, breaking the cycle of incarceration, of illiteracy, of poverty can be achieved by strengthening the fundamental cycle of intergenerational relationships. Parents teach children who may become parents teaching their children. In an even tighter cycle, children are, in a sense, teachers to their own parents. Parents learn by reading to and about their children, enhancing reading comprehension skills, knowledge of child development, etc. And, many parents cite their children as their primary motivation to further their education.
It is particularly befitting for incarcerated parents to interact with their children in literacy-promoting activities. Too often, this population is at an educational disadvantage. This disadvantage has profound implications for not only their own achievement, but also for the achievements of their children. Family literacy programs strive to minimize the impact of such disadvantage. Through the careful construction of its main building blocks (academic preparation, parent/child interaction, caregiver connection, and community linkage), family literacy programs maximize the familial, educational, personal, social, and vocational opportunities of intergenerational learning.