Family Literacy Day encourages family reading, outdoor learning

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Families are encouraged to engage in “Learning in the Great Outdoors” for Family Literacy Day 2022. 

Held annually on Jan. 27, Family Literacy Day was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.  

But it’s not all about reading, according to ABC Life Literacy Canada’s director of programs Elizabeth Robinson. 

“One of the really important things to learn about family literacy is it’s really about inter-generational learning,” Robinson told the Advertiser in a phone interview.

“It’s about families, whoever your family consists of, engaging in educational activities together, which is really useful for every member of the family.”

Robinson said engaging in educational activities as a family helps to build social bonds, and cements familial connections.

She added 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 it looks like to learn new things, and can also be a great way for children to be exposed to new words, new activities, and new ways of doing things.

“Lots of studies have shown that children who are involved in family literacy activities and do family literacy activities outside of the classroom score higher on reading tests and do better in the classroom, as they’re exposed to more words,” Robinson said. 

“As a parent or guardian, the more involved you are in your own education, the more that’s going to transfer down towards your children.” 

Robinson said part of the decision to make this year’s Family Literacy Day theme “Learning in the Great 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. 

“Lots of families are taking time to participate in outdoor activities, and it’s good to remember that outside 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 stroll around the neighbourhood can really be a good opportunity to talk about the wildlife … the plants that you encounter, and the people around you and how they interact with each other.”

Robinson notes real-world experience can spark an interest in things that can lead back to more educational opportunities. 

When it comes to trends, Robinson said currently amongst children there is a big interest in books involving activities, such as a song, a craft, or further exploration outside of the book.

“There’s an interest in sort of moving beyond the book itself,” she said. 

“For younger kids, there’s always an interest in transportation and moving vehicles. I think that’s been a long-standing trend. Characters who work in transportation or emergency services are very exciting.”

Robinson said there has also been a growing interest in books that speak particularly to the emotional needs of children. 

“There’s a lot of interest these days in books that help children learn words from emotions and what to do when they experience 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’ll be reading from one of her new books and walking families through a craft project together using clay.” 

The online event is open to anyone in Canada. 

ABC Life Literacy Canada statistics on family literacy.


Robinson added that locally, the Guelph Public Library will also be hosting an event with Guelph firefighters, which will include online story time and tips for playing safely outside.

Wellington County’s chief librarian Rebecca Hine shared similar sentiments around the importance of early literacy for children, noting its lasting impact on language development.

“It’s been demonstrated that early literacy enhances future successes in school, and general well-being throughout kids’ 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, all of which encourage literacy,” she said. 

“It is important for families to have multiple 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 amongst family members.

“It encourages lifelong learning in everyone,” she said. “Without support at home, it’s hard for kids to be successful and engaged 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?” Hine said.

“There is a proven link between reading and general well-being. Literature can boost mental health for all ages. During the pandemic people have said they have had more time to read, which is great.”

Hine told the Advertiser that both on and leading up to Family Literacy Day, all Wellington County Library branches will be handing out Literacy Day activity kits, which will include the ABC Life Literacy activity book and multiple other activities inside. 

The kits will also include supplies for the Family Literacy Day craft, as well as some suggested reading titles for all ages.

The kits are available to pick up at all Wellington County library branches closer to Family Literacy Day. 

Debb Greer, owner of The Bookery in Fergus, said reading during the pandemic has been critical for the mental health of children.

“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 open for 22 years and has been located in Fergus for 12.

Greer called reading together as a family “a bonding experience” that opens up dialogue between children and their parents. 

“It also gives children an opportunity to ask questions about things they may not understand,” she said.

“It’s also a relatively inexpensive thing to start doing with your children.”

Greer said when it comes to young children, picture books are always a good idea.

“With picture books, you can either follow the storyline, or make up your own story, and then encourage kids to make up their own story,” she said.

“So, the book can be read over and over again, in many different ways. For older kids, they tend to like books that amuse them, or books that include a mystery that they have to solve.”

She added another current trend with publishers are books based on popular video games.

And despite an increasing popularity in audiobooks and e-books, Greer said the physical book is still most important for readers.

“There is a real interest right now not only in the physical book, but in shopping for the physical book,” Greer said.

“The whole shopping experience needs to be all-inclusive. It’s the atmosphere, and of course, the ambience.”

For more information on Family Literacy Day 2022, visit