The increasing realization that family members can contribute to children's literacy development has given birth to family literacy programs designed to support immigrant and refugee families' participation in their children's education. Elsa Auerbach critically analyzes those family literacy programs that focus on teaching parents to do school-like activities in the home and to assist children with homework. She contends that the theoretical stance of these programs is not based on sound current research. Furthermore, she argues that in practice these programs function under a new version of the "deficit hypothesis," which assumes that the parents lack the essential skills to promote school success in their children. The author proposes a broader definition of family literacy that acknowledges the family's social reality and focuses on the family's strengths. As an alternative framework to program design, the author presents a social-contextual approach in which community concerns and cultural practices inform curriculum development.

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