Literacy Research

/ Literacy Research


According to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of U.S. adults aged 16–74—or about 130 million people—lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level. Research shows a correlation between illiteracy and generational cycles of poverty, poor health, and low high school graduation rates.

Since poor reading skills are correlated with intergenerational poverty, then a family/community reading model may help break the cycle of poverty and provide students with an opportunity to advance academically through reading. In particular, it is important to encourage reading outside of the classroom that is not solely motivated by extrinsic factors (such as grades).

Our research explores how socioeconomic factors for families residing in historically marginalized communities can impact family literacy engagement. It is critical to understand the role of parents in their children’s education and the systemic factors that shape that role to fully empower families.

Family Research

Gordon Philanthropies, in partnership with Dr. Bridget Costello from King’s College, is publishing two studies that explore parent engagement in relation to at-home reading practices. The data is derived from a program evaluation survey completed by participants of the Family Reading Initiative under the Communities That Read Together, Grow Together program. 

Do parent perceptions of neighborhood safety influence home literacy environments?

This paper explores parent perceptions of neighborhood safety and how those perceptions can influence decisions surrounding out-of-school literacy practices. Understanding how neighborhood attributes influence parental decisions and how those decisions subsequently affect academic achievement is vital to help identify effective strategies for program implementation and deploying resources.

Home literacy environments: exploring the role of parent reading orientations

Parents play a critical role in the education of their children, making it important to explore what parent engagement looks like for families from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This paper explores parental roles in shaping home literacy environments for students from historically marginalized communities, highlighting how multidimensional constructs can create barriers to shared-reading practices.

For more information on this research, contact Destiny Perales (, and Dr. Bridget Costello (