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A Light Touch

About This Session


Let’s talk about the transformative light of family! What can truly happen when families have the coveted space to illuminate the wonder of literacy together. And how does this light offer a vision for children’s future of freedom?

What we'll cover:

I inadvertently became a family literacy advocate and practitioner when I decided I would teach my first, of three, daughters how to read. At the time, I was just applying what I had learned experientially and my passion in the business of education legislation, education civil rights, and education administration.

I had a vision for my daughter. I never wanted her to be bound by any limitation. I also wanted her to have a fearless imagination. So, I thought, if I can take advantage of her curiosity and her eager spirit to learn, I would make space for her brazen creativity.

By three, she mastered phonics. She was ready to read. By five, she could read the Wall Street Journal. She soared as a reader, and my eyes and heart were open!

I had an aha lightbulb moment. I wanted every family to experience the joy of educationally interacting with their children and walking alongside, helping to set their child free to explore the wondrous words of this world that feed our capacity to imagine and to create what we have never experienced before.

When my daughter was four, and I was officially beginning the work to build Story Square, we were driving down the street, and my daughter was calling out all the stores we passed. And I decided I would do some market research. I asked her, “Do you remember what it was like when you couldn’t read?”

“Yes, I remember, Mommy,” my daughter responded. “It felt like I was in the dark. But now I can see.”

My daughter unknowingly and precociously, in her 4-year-old language, likened literacy to the light necessary for vision.

I loved her comparison.

When we think about being in the dark, we think about being arrested by the unknown, being lost, invoking fear, or maybe even despair.

Darkness subdues its inhabitants while light frees whomever it covers and leads.

We even want to protect our children from darkness. I remember my parents were adamant about us being home before dark. They warned that it left us more vulnerable and increased the chance of danger.

Simon Bolivar, a 19th-century South American abolitionist, felt the same way about darkness. “”The Libertador”” who fought to end slavery in South America and for independence from Spain analogized darkness and slavery and then ignorance to destruction in an 1819 speech, saying,

“Slavery is the daughter of darkness: an ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction.”

Story Square’s work combats that darkness that houses vulnerability to danger and the destructive darkness that relentlessly holds us captive in discombobulation and ignorance.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. posthumously reminds and challenges us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

So, we eliminate darkness by making spaces, especially for light, and to us, families are light.

Because we are a family literacy research hub as well as space architects, we know we face a grave problem. Many families are struggling to light the path of literacy for their children. Only 2% of American families are reading daily with their children for about 30 minutes. This glorious 30 minutes a day is approximately 30 minutes more than the 98% of American parents, who are reading on average less than a minute, or .01 hours a day, to our school-aged children, according to the 2023 Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey.

So, in the time we have together, we will explore the criticality of families in the movement for our children’s future of freedom through literacy.

Topics & Focus

Primary Topic Area
topic - family and parent literacy (450 x68)
Session will also cover:
topic - community partnerships & collaboration
topic - advocacy, public awareness



Handouts & Materials

No handouts or materials available at this time.


Stephens, Fran-Victoria

Fran-Victoria Stephens
Story Square

ROLE general audience
LEVEL intermediate
Product promotion?
Other info:



Bring a device


Breakout24 – STEPHENS

Page checked or updated: 7/12/24

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