Originally published at CanadianLiving.com
A staggering 22 per cent of adult Canadians have serious difficulty reading and understanding any printed material and experts draw a clear line between low literacy and lower incomes.
In 1999, ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation(TM) launched a family literacy day to draw awareness to the importance of family reading and learning. According to ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation(TM) president and CEO Christine Featherstone, being actively involved in your child’s literacy is much simpler than people may think.
For tips on how to encourage reading and literacy skill in your own family, check out the easy antidotes to common literacy spoilers below.
1. Treating reading like a chore. Reading can be a magical escape into the lives and worlds beyond your own but it can become a chore if you don’t make it fun for your children. With a little forethought and planning, reluctant readers can be transformed into enthusiastic adventurers into the magical land of the written word.
2. Expecting your kids to read without being a reader yourself. Are you a good reading role model? Kids are sensitive to our values and if you don’t see reading as fun and enjoyable, chances are your kids won’t either.
3. Overlooking routine opportunities to read. Reading skills can be sharpened by everyday activities like reading cereal boxes and the liner notes on a favourite CD. Double up on the learning curve by letting your child pick out dinner recipes and then helping you prepare a special meal. Rediscover the magic of a bedtime story.
4. Watching too much television. Turn off the tube and turn on to afterschool reading. But also recognize the tool that television can be. Many books have been adapted to movies or television shows. Read the book; watch the program. Or pair a favourite show with its counterpart in reading material. If your child shows an interest in science fiction, suggest a book in that genre.
5. Not having books in your house. Make books readily available in your house by setting up a personal library in your child’s room with a collection of his or her favourite books. Make a comfortable and inviting spot to read somewhere in the house.
6. Pressuring your child to read. Do you push your children to read? Be aware of how much tension you’re imposing on your child and think about how doing so affects his or her attitude towards books.
7. Failing to nurture the art of storytelling. Make storytelling an important part of your family and culture by encouraging grandparents, aunts and uncles to share their stories. Tip: Everyone loves to be read to. Ask out-of-town grandparents to record themselves reading a book to your child and then make the recording a gift (add the book for the child to follow along with).
8. Choosing your child’s reading material for him/her. Does your child have input into what he or she is reading? Tip: The library can be a wonderful resource for reading choices. Younger children especially enjoy the responsibility and entitlement that comes from having their very own library cards. But don’t stop there. Take advantage of library programs (often free!) and book clubs.
9. Selecting the wrong material for your child. Is your child reading age-appropriate material? Be sensitive to the individual interests of your children. Allowing them to choose reading material that reflects their own interests will increase their love of reading.
10. Do you value the written word? Writing and reading go hand in hand. Encourage expression through reading and writing with your kids. Keep an interactive family journal of notes to each other. Make a habit of writing thank you notes for gifts and letters to grandparents.
BONUS TIP: Celebrate ABC CANADA Family Literacy Day(TM) on January 27! Recognize literacy as a personal and family priority every day of the year.
Always keep in mind the First Rule of Reading: Keep it Fun!
Visit these sites for more ways to keep your kids reading:
Robert Munsch Listen to Canada’s favourite storyteller read The Paper Bag Princess, Thomas’ Snowsuit, Love You Forever or many of his other classic stories for kids.
Fun Brain Torpedo parachuting penguins with snowballs as they try to land on your floating iceberg, play prehistoric Mad Libs Junior, or read the daily entries in The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There are tons of games and activities you’ll enjoy as much as your child will.