It’s Family Literacy Day!


We don’t need a special day to enjoy books, but today is the perfect time to plan something out of the ordinary. It’s Family Literacy Day! While there are lots of events planned at libraries and bookstores across the country, you might want to aim for something to do at home.

Why not:

1.  Read a book together and then watch the movie!  There are plenty of family-oriented books that are easy to read in one night. Netflix, your local library and the cheap bins at big box stores always have great choices to help you plan a fun night. Try THE CAT IN THE HAT, JUMANJI,  or CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS.

2.  Make a theme dinner. Pick a fun book your family enjoys, then make a meal based on the characters, the story or the setting. You could try making green eggs and ham, or decorate your kitchen table with monkeys and bananas (for a Curious George meal). Be as silly as you wish…the kids will enjoy it!

3.  Instead of rushing to get the kids out the door in the morning, get everyone up a few minutes early and announce you’re having a morning storytime!  They’ll be excited and you could even let them eat breakfast while you read.

4.  How about trading a stack of your favourite books with another family? Ask a friend who might have children who are the same ages as yours, and switch books for the evening. Tell your children these are the books that Bobby and Susie and Sam read each night. It might be fun!

What are YOU going to do to celebrate Family Literacy Day?

Babytime is back!

This week, we’re starting our Babytime program again! It runs for six weeks and we’re expecting a FULL house once again. Parents have been notified, so if you’re hoping to attend, please call and we can put you on our list for the next session (it’ll be in September).


We’re so excited to see all the little ones and the moms (or dads or grandmas etc.).  It’s going to be a fun session of songs, bonding and interaction for the babies.  Are these going to be some of our early readers?  Maybe!

It all begins again!

For those of you with little ones, Storytime starts again this week at the library! We’re looking forward to having all those bright young faces join us for stories, games, songs and crafts each week from now through to December.  Spaces are limited, so if you have a 2 – 5 year old that would like to attend, please call us to register.  We run storytime every Wednesday and Thursday morning from 10 – 11am. It’s going to be fun, so make plans to attend!

International Literacy Day!

September 8, 2012 is International Literacy Day! The theme set out by the United Nations is Literacy and Peace. On their website, they state: “literacy contributes to peace as it brings people closer to attaining individual freedoms and better understanding the world, as well as preventing or resolving conflict. The connection between literacy and peace can be seen by the fact that in unstable democracies or in conflict-affected countries it is harder to establish or sustain a literate environment.”

There are great suggestions on the site as to ways you could help promote literacy in your own community.  You could donate books to a school or community facility, start a book club, volunteer to help with literacy programs in your community or become a mentor to a non-literate person in your community. We forget sometimes that literacy is a local issue, not just one concerning people in less fortunate countries. You can also visit a great Canadian site such as ABC Life Literacy Canada for more ideas and information.

How about learning a new “literacy” skill, such as trying to learn a new language, learning to use a computer, or going back to school to expand your knowledge in other areas. What are YOU going to do for International Literacy Day?

Preventing violence through literacy

Smack dab in the middle of standardized testing going on in our local schools this week, I came across an article that rang some bells. The point to the article is that literacy at a young age can prevent violence down the line, and it certainly seems to ring true.

Photo courtesy of  APDK on Flickr.

The author of this article, Jessica Aptman, knows well about the ways violence can change lives.  Her sister was the victim of murder when she was twenty-two, and after years of court battles, her family was left to figure out what life is like without an important member of their group.  They created The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment and work hard to find ways to prevent violence in communities all over the US.  One such initiative is a program to help children gain stronger literacy skills.  Their research shows that children in Grade 3 who are reading at that level are 99% less likely to be incarcerated as an adult than those children who aren’t reading well at that age.  Up to 80% of individuals who are in the prison system are functionally illiterate and it seems that school performance, more than any other factor,  is a major contributor as to whether a young person will become involved in drugs or violence later on.

Very interesting article and an admirable goal to properly teach teachers how to help children learn to read.  Our local libraries are all part of a literacy initiative called Ready for Reading which puts the focus on HOW parents read to their children, not just how much.  It is  important to ask questions about a story, model inflection in the voice when reading dialogue and get the child to tell the story back to you just by looking at the pictures. All of these things, while seemingly unimportant, go a long way to making your child a reader.  The technical language ( dialogic reading, phonological awareness etc.) is daunting, but I try to model different skills each week at storytime so that the parents can pick up on the ideas without feeling like I am trying to drill them with necessary skills.

So, the next time you see a young child struggling to read, help them out.  You just might be saving them a lifetime of heartache.

Adult literacy

We often have people that come in looking for books for new readers.  These books are often very short, with easy topics and vocabulary, aimed at children.  Not only do these books help beginning readers, but they are also useful for kids who might have English as a second language or just might be reluctant readers.  But what about adults? There is an often overlooked part of the population who just don’t have books aimed at them, and up until now, it has been difficult to find reading material that is not too immature.  Adults with literacy issues now have a solution.

Rapid Reads is a new corner in the publishing industry, brought about by Canadian publishers, Orca Books.  The rapid reads are a selection of books that contain only 12000 – 18000 words, simple sentences, contemporary plots but adult protagonists.  And the best part is that they are written by well known authors, such as Gail Bowen.  Authors were approached and asked to adapt their writing to make these fantastic easy read books for adults, a market which can be difficult to break.  Now, adults who might be learning English, those who are improving their reading skills and those who might just be very reluctant to read “normal” length novels have an option to pick up one of these Rapid Reads.  You can read more abou these great books and even see a few sample chapters on their website here.

Example of a Rapid Read book in the collection

There are more great tips and ideas to promote literacy in your life at ABC Life Literacy Canada, and the National Adult Literacy Database.

Children’s Librarians meeting

On Monday, we had a meeting over at the Perth Public Library for children’s librarians in our area. It was a small get together this time, with only three librarians in attendance plus Kathy Boelsma from the Ontario Early Years Center. Kathy is trying to co-ordinate all of the resources available to children in our county and the surrounding area so that we are all tied in together to promote literacy in our region. It doesn’t work just to have the library promoting reading to our patrons. Our communities need to come together to provide services and information for parents to help get their children reading, and not every group is working together at this point, so Kathy is working hard to make sure we are all on the same page.

These meetings are not only good for starting projects in our respective communities, but they are also a great time to listen to what other libraries are doing and how they are promoting programs in their own libraries. It was nice to see what Sue has done in the Perth Public Library. She has a great new section for graphic novels for teens and her program room is bright and cheery for the younger set. Thanks for having us at your library, Sue!

One initiative we are all going to be working towards over the next year, is getting all children who are going into kindergarten to have a public library card. This means the libraries will have to work together with the schools and other resources in the community to get the children into the library for their card. Big project, but hopefully one that will result in higher literacy rates in our counties from this point on.

It is easy to get lost in the day to day workings of the library, so these meetings are a great way to bolster some enthusiasm for new programs and ideas.

How does your community promote literacy?