Family Literacy Day is Saturday, January 27 and we are getting ready to party like only bookworms can! There aren't a lot of "official" celebrations in the city but we have come up with seven very Haligonian ways to encourage family literacy.
Visit a New-To-You Library
Halifax is home to many libraries and they are all unique. We've all heard about the Central library, which is incredible, but I have found fun, unique elements to every library I've been to in the HRM. Keshen Goodman in Clayton Park has a great play area with beautiful windows overlooking the woods; Sackville Library is located right beside a fantastic outdoor playground for warm weather and an outdoor skating rink for cold weather; the Alderney Landing makes a great day trip for families, especially when you take a ferry from Halifax to get there or browse at the Farmer's Market on weekends - plus you might catch a train going by on the pedway to the library.
Most people have their "regular" library but this weekend, why not visit a new-to-you one and see what they offer! Oh and many of them are offering some type of family or kids programming Saturday, with the Alderney Landing branch having a special event for Family Literacy Day. Check programs in advance here in case you need to register.
Write a Halifax Adventure Book
Take a stroll around part of the city, a new place, an old favourite, or even just your neighbourhood! Take photos and make notes about what you see - if your child is old enough they can do this part themselves. While you explore, ignite their imaginations by asking questions like, "Who do you think might live in that hole in the tree?" "Why do you think that boat might be docked there?" and don't let your reality check get in the way - encourage any farfetched ideas they might have! Perhaps it really was a superhero that knocked over that sign while trying to save the seagull from the children chasing him!
When you get home staple some papers together and use the photos and notes to create a book about your Halifax adventure. It can be a factual retelling of what happened, or you can get creative and make your own characters and story set in your walk location. If you get really fancy you can get it printed as a photo book with the story captions and create one for each Family Literacy Day going forward.
Create a Family Journal
Get a blank journal or scrapbook and start chronicling your family's adventures and experiences here at home in Halifax, or on trips near and far. Encourage children to add to it as well - either through dictating to you what to write about or by writing it themselves. This can be a daily recounting of interesting moments in their life, or something done only after major events and milestone. It will be a special keepsake for the whole family. It will encourage literacy, writing, reading, storytelling, and conversation.
Host a Family Book Swap
Gather up some family friends and have a book swap! Have everyone in the family bring a book to trade with friends. You can choose a theme, for example books about Halifax and/or by local authors! If the kids are wary about giving away their books, you could do a show and tell/story time with their favourites.
Add to the fun by making book themed snacks (hit up Pinterest, there are loads of ideas) and plan a book extension activity during the gathering. I've got lots of ideas here about fun games, songs, crafts, and activities to do with old and new favourite books.
Go on a Halifax Literary Tour
Did you know Halifax has a rich literary history? For example did you know Oscar Wilde once stayed in the Waverley Inn on Barrington Street! This activity is better suited to the older kids or for a parental date night, but it's a must-do to learn some really cool stuff about our city. The library has a free self-guided literary walking tour that you can do at any time. Click here for the map and details.
Give the Gift of Literacy
If you have books galore and are feeling the need to thin out your stack, why not spend some time Saturday choosing a selection of books to donate. There are many family based charities that are in need of books - just call ahead to check on requirements first. You could also pool some money together as a family and make a donation to the library or one of the literacy organizations in the city to help support the work they do. Here is a list of the literacy organizations across Nova Scotia.
The simplest, but most important way you can celebrate, is by reading together as a family. Commit to finding a regular story time that you all cuddle up and read together as a family. Kick off this new tradition by visiting a local bookstore or library and choosing a new book to start with that everyone is excited about. If you have a child who can read, encourage them to read to younger siblings for part of this.
Showing that reading is a special, safe, and valued time will do wonders for a child and their love of reading. And, just in case you thought your baby might be too young for books, or question if they really get anything out of it, read this and rest assured that it's never to early to start raising readers.