Early Literacy Research Library (ELRL) - Article

How Family Needs Informed an Early Literacy Family Reading Program in Multilingual and Multicultural Miami-Dade County

Baralt, M., Griffith, S.F., Hanson, K.L., André, N., Blair, L., Bagner, D.M. (2022) How Family Needs Informed an Early Literacy Family Reading Program in Multilingual and Multicultural Miami-Dade County. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 0(0), 1-33.,

Access: Institutional Access

Publication year


study description


core topic(s)

Early Literacy , Reach Out and Read (ROR)

Population Characteristics

Lingually Diverse , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture

Exposures, Outcomes, Other

Children's Trust Book Club , Clinic-Based Programs and Interventions , Home Language/Literacy/Learning Environment , Implementation and Evaluation , Parent Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs , Programs and Interventions (other)


1) Characterize the literacy environment of families in Miami-Dade County, including (a) books and supporting materials, (b) time spent engaging in shared reading, and (c) facilitators as well as barriers of reading. 2) Learn about Miami-Dade families’ hopes and goals for their children’s literacy, as well as their concerns and worries. 3) Identify family needs and preferences regarding the design of a family reading program, including (a) books, (b) guides, (c) trusted resources for support, and (d) preferred modes of communication between the program and participants.


The Children's Trust Book Club

outcomes evaluated

Home literacy environment; literacy related hopes, goals, concerns, worries; family needs and preferences for reading programs.


Haitian families from Miami-Dade County, a culturally and racially diverse metropolitan area. One in four families in Miami-Dade lives below the poverty line.


Eight early childhood centers hosted focus groups and recruited families to best accommodate their services and patrons. Family caregivers were eligible to participate in the focus groups if they had at least one young child (or child in their care) between the ages of 0 and 5 years. Participants who signed up were then assigned to an English-speaking, Spanish speaking, or Haitian Creole-speaking focus group. Focus groups took place in the centers before, during, or after care or school hours. Data from the focus groups consisted of transcribed audio-recordings, notes taken by the leading researcher and the student research assistant, self-report questionnaires, and photos of children’s books taken at the early childhood centers and/or provided to us by participants.

sample size

n=92 (caregivers)


Qualitative analysis.


A key finding of our study was that Haitian families in Miami-Dade County want books and materials written in Haitian Creole. We conclude that it is thus worth investing in literacy artifacts that are written in this language. Another key finding was the impact of Reach Out and Reach. For those families with five or fewer books in the home, it was reported that their books were provided by their child’s pediatrician at well child check-ups. This finding highlights pediatricians as a trusted source of information on their child’s development that can reach families. It also affirms the need for programs that increase access to more books to build children’s home libraries. Two of the subthemes in families’ literacy artifacts and in time spent sharing in engaged reading were that (1) very few families in our study went to the public library and (2) many caregivers reported not seeing themselves as capable of reading. These are additional areas to develop when it comes to parent psychoeducational materials.


In describing how Miami-Dade families’ needs informed the design of The Children’s Trust Book Club, we hope to make replicable and scalable recommendations for other high-need, multicultural and multilingual communities working to boost early childhood literacy across a community. It is critical that such family reading programs work through trusted sources in the community such as pediatricians, schools, childcare providers, and community centers (e.g. Haitian cultural centers and churches in Miami). Finally, outreach efforts and modalities must match sub-population preferences and practices to successfully reach all children and families across diverse communities. One size does not fit all, and literacy-promoting programs will be strengthened and will be more likely to achieve greater impact if the families they aim to serve are consulted on how the literacy support will best fit into their lives, what kinds of books they and their children want, and how parent psychoeducational material can best serve them.


It would be interesting to explore whether or not there is an association between demographic characteristics such as number of children in the home and their ages, and whether this affects the relation to number of books in the home. It would also be prudent to examine how families’ needs might differ in other multilingual and multicultural cities. Finally, future studies might benefit by focusing on fathers. While only 13 of the 92 participants were fathers in this study, fathers’ life experiences, as well as their suggestions for book topics, materials, and community resources, should be prioritized as factors for the design of a family reading program. Focusing on fathers is important given the research showing that father involvement in early childhood programs enhances outcomes.