This paper addresses the issue of diverse literacies, and the problems of privileging a dominant form of literacy at the expense of those from non-mainstream cultures. It uses data from a family literacy project to illustrate how the actual literacy practices of working-class families and communities can be incorporated into learning programmes. It argues that whilst familiarity with the dominant forms of spoken and written language is a vital ingredient in adults' and children's communicative functioning, it should not be the unchallenged objective of education. Instead opportunities to legitimate the vernacular literacies of the home and community should be sought. In so doing deficit views of families at a disadvantage can be replaced by views that positively value the home culture to the benefit of both the home and the school.