This article considers the growth of ‘family literacy programmes’ in the UK and the implications this has for the relationship between the home and the school. We argue that most programmes are informed by a view of educational deficit, itself influenced by a marketised view of education which regards families as consumers’ of education. We contend that this ‘family’ is constructed in a way that privileges the patriarchal, nuclear, middle-class family and makes a clear distinction between the public and the private sphere. This leads, we suggest, to a model of family literacy which imposes school-based literacies on subordinated cultures and non-nuclear families in ways that are culturally reproductive. We discuss an alternative, culturally productive, approach which focuses on home-based literacies in ways which genuinely reflect the lived experiences of children and their families. Only in these types of programmes, we argue, will the values and practices of the home and community environment affect schooling in ways which give all families, however constructed, a genuine ‘voice’ in their children's education.