Creating a love for reading

John M. Cuelenaere Public Library program supervisor Abby Burden reads to a group of children during Family Literacy Day at the Gateway Mall on Jan. 27, 2018 -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald.

Literacy programs have become more and more prominent in Prince Albert over the last year, and local advocates are hoping that trend will continue as they host Family Literacy Day at Gateway Mall.

The annual event helps connect families with literacy programs in the city, while also promoting the importance of early language learning in the home.

Literacy Day Coordinator Kara Thorpe said local partnerships have helped make local literacy programs more accessible over the past year, and that’s an promising sign for the future.

“The networking and community partnerships that are happening across our city are quite exciting,” Thorpe said during an interview on Friday. “What that means is that we can now coordinate with places like Kids First and Family Futures and our type of programming can then be delivered through some of their networks, versus me trying to create a program and having people come to one specific program.”

It’s especially encouraging considering some of the difficulties Saskatchewan children face in learning to read. Thorpe said recent surveys have show that roughly 40 per cent of the province’s kindergarten students are not at the appropriate level of readiness. With that in mind, it’s becoming more important that ever to connect families with the right services.

“That (lack of readiness) flows through into some of the reading challenges later on,” Thorpe explained. “The biggest part of our job is to try to connect with families at one or two years old and work through family engagement, because that’s where our kids learn best, with their first learners—their parents.”

The 2019 Family Literacy Day is designed to build on last year’s successes, while also expanding how people think about literacy. Thorpe said the first thing people think about is always reading and writing, but there are other aspects, such as digital literacy, which the Prince Albert Literacy Network are looking to help families master.

Family Literacy Day is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 at Gateway Mall in Prince Albert. Activities include story sacks, a life-sized family literacy board game, a book giveaway and finger puppet shows courtesy of the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

Happy Birthday PALN

The Prince Albert Literacy Network is celebrating 30 years of activity this year, although the celebrations will likely be a little muted at Family Literacy Day. Thorpe said they’re planning to celebrate later in the year because they want to focus on families at today’s event.

“We’re looking towards building something probably into next September,” Thorpe said. “We’re working with just our average community members for Family Literacy Day this time around.”

@kerr_jas •