Family Literacy Day started in 1999 and takes place every January 27th to raise awareness about the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. ABC Life Literacy Canada hosts this event each year and thousands of literacy-based organizations, libraries, schools and individuals participate in activities that bring families together and promote literacy and learning.
What is Family Literacy?
Family Literacy is the practice of adults (parents, grandparents and community members) and children learning together to strengthen literacy skills.
When we think of “literacy”, the first things that come to mind are reading and writing skills. Literacy includes not only reading and writing, but can also contain/encompass/include numeracy/math and digital technology skills.
Reading and Writing
Developing reading and writing skills involves the printed word, but there are other tasks that are not always in the forefront of our minds when thinking about reading and writing development. In addition to prose, reading and writing skills involve:
- reading and understanding charts and graphs
- paying attention to the visuals that accompany the text
- understanding maps
- looking at how the page is laid out: headings, lists, bold or underlined text
Many Literacy and Basic Skills Programs include numeracy alongside or integrated into their literacy skills.
- math (addition, subtraction, etc.)
- reading recipes with measurements
- telling time
- making change
Becoming digitally literate in today’s world is increasingly important and can help with schoolwork, finding a job, accessing information, and being connected to family, friends and the community. Some examples of digital literacy are:
- composing and sending an email
- interfacing with a web browser
- navigating a website
- filling in online forms
- recognizing scams or phishing
What is the Impact of Family Literacy?
“Having parents teach specific literacy skills to their children was two times more effective than having parents listen to their children read and six times more effective than encouraging parents to read to their children.” (Sénéchal, 2006).
Children spend “900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours outside of school,” so parents and caregivers must be equipped to support their learning (Trelease, 2013).
Among parents, developing vocabulary and language skills and using imagination are the most sought-after benefits of reading. Children, particularly those who are frequent readers, gain inspiration and a sense of accomplishment from reading. (YouGov and Scholastic 2017)
What can we do to Support Literacy Development?
Family Literacy Day was started in order to create awareness of the importance of reading, writing and learning together as a family and to give ideas for practices that families can continue to implement over the year.
Here are some ideas for incorporating the many elements/faces of literacy into activities to do with your family:
- Read with kids before bed.
- Have your child write a story (or write it for him/her).
- Read the story together.
- Create comprehension questions about the story.
- Take words from the story for spelling practice.
- Cut up the story or sentences and have the child organize them back in the correct order.
- Find, read and follow instructions online or in a book for a craft to do together.
- Learn a new game and play as a family.
- Lip sync battle – search online for a song and see who can give the best lip sync performance.
- Create a neighbourhood scavenger hunt to do the next time you go for a walk. Take photos of the items found and send them via text or email (to the parent/organizer) to win.
- Do word search puzzles, crosswords, or brain teasers.
- Cook or bake together. Practice math skills by doubling or halving the recipe.
- Make a grocery list for the recipe ingredients, look up the prices online in flyers and add up the total cost.
- Using an online map, figure out how long it would take to walk or drive to certain locations (the park, community skating rink, the grocery store).
The theme for Family Literacy Day 2022 is: “Learning in the Great Outdoors.” Check out ABC Life Literacy for resources for families to use to promote both learning and getting outside.
Family Literacy Day isn’t just for those families with young children. It’s a great opportunity to read, write, learn and explore with children, teenagers, grandparents, young adults, friends and neighbours.
What ideas do you have to promote family literacy?
“Kids & Family Reading Report: Canadian Edition.” (2017) YouGov and Scholastic.
Sénéchal, M. (2006). The effect of family literacy interventions on children’s acquisition of reading from kindergarten to grade 3: A meta-analytic review. Developed by the National Center for Family Literacy. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
Trelease, J. (2013) Read-aloud handbook. Introduction.