WELLINGTON COUNTY – Families are encouraged to engage in “Learning in the Outdoors” for Family Literacy Day 2022.
Held annually on January 27, Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Life for Life Canada in 1999 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and participating in other literacy-related activities by family.
But it’s not just about reading, according to Elizabeth Robinson, director of programs for ABC Life Literacy Canada.
“One of the really important things to learn about family literacy is that it’s really about intergenerational learning,” Robinson told the Advertiser in a telephone interview.
“It’s about families, regardless of your family makeup, engaging in educational activities together, which is really helpful for every member of the family.”
Robinson said engaging in educational activities as a family helps create social bonds and cement family bonds.
She added that reading together and doing other educational activities as a family can be a great way for parents, grandparents and other family members to model what learning new things is like, and can also be a great way for kids to be exposed to new things. words, new activities and new ways of doing things.
“Many studies have shown that children who participate in family literacy activities and who do family literacy activities outside of the classroom perform better on reading tests and do better in the classroom because they are exposed to more words,” Robinson said.
“As a parent or guardian, the more involved you are in your own upbringing, the more that will transfer to your children.”
Robinson said part of the decision to make this year’s Family Literacy Day theme “Learning in the Outdoors” was that children have endured online learning for much of the pandemic.
“We wanted to show people that learning happens in all kinds of places,” she said.
“A lot of families make time to participate in outdoor activities, and it’s good to remember that the outdoors is a good place to go just in terms of exercising your body.
“But it’s also a great place to learn. Things like a walk in the park or even just a walk around the neighborhood can really be a good opportunity to talk about wildlife… the plants you encounter, the people around you and how they interact with each other. others.
Robinson notes that real-world experience can spark interest in things that can lead to more educational opportunities.
As for trends, Robinson said that currently children are very interested in books that involve activities, such as a song, craft or further exploration outside of the book.
“There’s an interest in going beyond the book itself,” she said.
“For young children, there is always an interest in transportation and moving vehicles. I think it’s a long-standing trend. Characters who work in transport or emergency services are very exciting.
Robinson said there is also growing interest in books that specifically address the emotional needs of children.
“There’s a lot of interest these days in books that help children learn the words of emotions and what to do when they feel those emotions.”
Robinson said she looks forward to this year’s Family Literacy Day events.
“ABC is hosting an online virtual event featuring Barbara Reid,” she said.
“She will read one of her new books and guide families through a craft project using clay.”
The online event is open to everyone in Canada.
Robinson added that locally, the Guelph Public Library will also be hosting an event with the Guelph Fire Department, which will include an online story hour and tips for playing safe outdoors.
Wellington County Chief Librarian Rebecca Hine shared similar sentiments regarding the importance of early literacy for children, noting its lasting impact on language development.
“Early literacy has been shown to improve future success in school and overall well-being throughout children’s lives,” Hine said.
“If children have early literacy skills, they develop listening, and they develop vocabulary and language skills. It also helps develop imagination and creativity.
Hine also said literacy skills can be developed from a variety of activities, not just reading.
“Wellington County Libraries follow the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read guidelines which focus on talking, singing, reading, writing and playing, which encourages literacy,” said she declared.
“It is important that families have several choices of activities for themselves when promoting literacy.
“Family Literacy Day encourages setting aside 15 minutes a day to engage in a literacy activity.
Hine said reading together as a family is a great way to strengthen relationships between family members.
“It encourages lifelong learning in everyone,” she said. “Without support at home, it’s hard for children to succeed and engage in school.”
And the pandemic has only made reading more important.
“Reading is an escape, and when do we need an escape more than during a pandemic?” said Hine.
“There is a proven link between reading and general well-being. Literature can improve mental health at all ages. During the pandemic, people said they had more time to read, which is great.
Hine told the Advertiser that during and before Family Literacy Day, all Wellington County Library branches will distribute Literacy Day activity kits, which will include the ABC Life Literacy activity book and many more indoor activities.
The kits will also include supplies for Family Literacy Day crafts, as well as suggested readings for all ages.
Kits can be picked up at all Wellington County Library branches in the run up to Family Literacy Day.
Debb Greer, owner of The Bookery in Fergus, said reading during the pandemic has been essential for children’s mental health.
“Getting lost in a story and using your imagination distracts you from what’s going on in your own life, and you automatically feel less stressed,” Greer said.
The Bookery, a second-hand bookstore that sells books of all genres, has been in business for 22 years and has been located in Fergus for 12 years.
Greer called family reading a “bonding experience” that opens up dialogue between children and their parents.
“It also gives kids the opportunity to ask questions about things they might not understand,” she said.
“It’s also a relatively inexpensive thing to do with your kids.”
Greer said that when it comes to young children, picture books are always a good idea.
“With picture books, you can either follow the script or make up your own story and then encourage kids to make up their own story,” she said.
“So the book can be read again and again, in different ways. For older children, they tend to like books that amuse them or books that include a mystery they need to solve.
She added that another current trend among publishers is books based on popular video games.
And despite the growing popularity of audiobooks and e-books, Greer said the physical book is still most important to readers.
“There is real interest right now not only in the physical book, but also in buying the physical book,” Greer said.
“The whole shopping experience should be all-inclusive. It’s the atmosphere, and of course, the mood.
For more information on Family Literacy Day 2022, visit abclifeliteracy.ca/all-programs/family-literacy-day.