‘Celebrate your heritage’ with Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Library branches within the county and in Guelph are hosting events for Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27.

This year’s theme is “Celebrate Your Heritage.”

“It’s about taking time to explore and learn about your heritage and celebrate what you found and share your culture with others,” ABC Life Literacy Canada executive director Alison Howard told the Advertiser by phone.

“Researching genealogy makes for a great family activity, involving siblings, children and grandchildren,” Howard stated.

“It can bring family members together around a shared interest and also inspire inter-generational storytelling and sharing.”

Family Literacy Day was started in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada to raise awareness of the importance of reading and literacy as a family.

Word has since spread across the country to thousands of schools and libraries, which put on events to celebrate the day each year.

Literacy has evolved over the years and isn’t “just reading and writing and numeracy,” Howard said.

“There’s many other aspects to it,” she added, listing examples of financial, cultural, civic and workplace literacy.

“We think about literacy as a continuum,” she said. “It’s really the basic skills that you need to succeed in life.”

Children spend most of their developmental years outside of classrooms, and Howard says children whose parents involve them in family literacy activities score higher on reading testing.

“Without adult support and a strong foundation at home, children are less likely to be successful and engaged in school,” she said.

“We make a lot of choices in life, on what to prioritize, and helping our children, setting them up for success is really of critical importance.”

Wellington County’s head librarian Rebecca Hine agreed, stating in an email, “Families who take time every day to read or do a learning activity with children are engaging in a critical component of a child’s development, as well as encouraging lifelong learning and time spent together.”

Not spending the time developing literacy skills, Howard said, creates a significant impact later in life.

“One of the biggest advantages, we find, in improving your literacy skills is the level of confidence that it gives individuals,” she said.

Howard recommends taking time as a family to engage in learning together on a regular basis, such as family reading time or going on an outing to the library — where family literacy is engaged in every day — or a museum where learning and curiosity are priorities.

Libraries are “a go-to place for families with young children,” Hine said.

The county’s library preschool programming is designed around the American Library Associations’ Every Child Ready to Read program, which widens the focus from just children to their parents and caregivers.

“Public libraries have a greater impact on early literacy if they take an approach that is focused on educating parents and caregivers, not just focusing on the child,” Hine wrote.

All are encouraged to visit local library branches on Jan. 27 for Family Literacy Day programming, including crafts, story time and board games.

Visit wellington.libnet.info/events for a complete listing of events, times and locations.

In Guelph, a family story time is being put on at the Westminster Square Branch (31 Farley Drive) and will include songs and stories about local heroes.

ABC Life Literacy Canada is also hosting a virtual event, ideal for children in Grades 1 to 6, with Barbara Reid who will demonstrate how to use clay to create a picture.

To register visit: abclifeliteracy.ca/all-programs/family-literacy-day.