For Freire (1982), literacy is a tool the individual uses for expanding his understanding of the world (or "reading the world"). In the context of this definition,which encompasses a larger and more inclusive perspective, family literacy's purpose is to help parents and their children develop a critical way of thinking that will enable them to take charge of their lives. The emphasis is not only on what they are in the present, but on their "becoming" in the future (Masny and Dufresne, 2007).

... literacy is a tool the individual uses for expanding his understanding of the world (Freire, 1982)

1.2 Multiple literacies

The concept of multiple literacies adds a deeper dimension to the concept of literacy. Here is a brief overview of the concept.3

Multiple literacies is a social construct that includes words, gestures, attitudes and social identities, or, more precisely, ways of speaking, reading, writing and appreciating and valuing; in short, a way of "becoming" in the world.

The perspective of multiple literacies seems to take into account the diverse realities of francophones living in a minority setting. Francophones in this situation must take up the challenge of developing not only their academic literacy (reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.) but also their personal and critical literacy (their ability to apply critical thinking to the world) and their community literacy (learning to "read" communities to be able to integrate into them and develop a sense of belonging) with the objective of "becoming."

This concept of "becoming" is important for families on an individual and a collective basis; it opens the possibility of their transforming as individual units and as communities, an essential element for the survival of francophone minorities.

1.3 Literacy, family literacy and multiple literacies

In the field of family literacy in French in Canada, there is much debate around the use of the terms "alphabetical literacy," "literacy" and "multiple literacies." Should we speak of programs for the alphabetical literacy of families (alphabétisation familiale) or of family literacy (litteratie familiale) programs? Is the goal to help people acquire alphabetical literacy, or is it to support them in the development of their multiple literacies? Francophones working in the field of family literacy are increasingly aware of the limitations of the term alphabetisation familiale.4

The training program called Fondements de l'alphabetisation familiale dans un contexte minoritaire francophone, an adaptation of Foundational Training in Family Literacy (Centre for Family Literacy, 2001) is based on the perspective of multiple literacies. When Francophone organizations in Canada decided to structure their family literacy services, they used elements of this training to inform their thinking and their intervention. The Coalition francophone has recently chosen to adopt the term litteratie familiale (family literacy.5

As a result, we use the term littératie familiale, family literacy, throughout the present document,

3 For a detailed description of multiple literacies, see chapter 7.

4 It is the experience of the Coalition francophone that its members use the term alphabétisation in a much broader fashion than its more traditional meaning (which is simply learning reading, writing and arithmetic).

5 In 2007, the Coalition francophone chose to abandon the term alphabétisation familiale and to adopt the term litteratie familiale (Coalition francophone, 2006-2007, p. 20). The FCAF, however, continues to use the term alphabétisation familiale (ibid.).