National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. The program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

The foundation for literacy is built during the preschool years through reading. Time spent reading fosters children’s interest in reading and builds confidence, while helping to eliminate some of the severe consequences of poor literacy skills, including lack of grade retention, school failure, school dropout, delinquency, unemployment and underemployment. 

Family Storyteller is a six-week series of workshops targeting families at risk for low literacy and related problems. Each workshop includes viewing a 10-minute video, learning book-reading techniques, practicing reading to children and other literacy activities. A book and packet of materials go home with the parents and children so they can continue their reading and activities together.

There are six versions of Family Storyteller:

  • A version (Family Storyteller) for English-speaking familiesTwo women read a book with a little girl at a Family Storyteller workshop.
  • A version (Cuentos en familia) for Spanish-speaking families who do not yet speak much English
  • A version (Family Storyteller: From the Beginning) for English-language families with infants and toddlers
  • A version (Cuentos en familia: Desde el principio) for Spanish-language with infants and toddlers
  • A version for English-language learners
  • A version (Catching Dreams) for Native American families

After participating in the program:

  • Parents and children read together more often;
  • Parents used skills taught in the program, such as encouraging their children to guess what happens next and to learn new vocabulary words;
  • Parent-child literacy and language activities increased; and
  • Children increased their understanding of book basics and their enjoyment of reading.

Spanish-speaking families improved as follows:

  • Children and parents increased their English vocabulary;
  • Parents increased their ability to use English;
  • Parents increased their knowledge of book basics; and
  • Parents increased their shared reading skills and enjoyment of reading with their children.

Family Storyteller has been directly taught to more than 11,550 Nevada families, of which more than 80 percent are Hispanic, by UNCE educators and by more than 325 trained volunteers. The curriculum was selected as a national Cooperative Extension program to be distributed across the country. More than 235 curricula have been purchased for use in 29 other states.

This program has received the National Partnership Award from USDA/NIFA, the Community Impact Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Western Extension Directors’ Award of Excellence.


Learn more about the program's team

YaeBin Kim
Program Leader & Contact
Heidi Petermeier
Program Contact