Family Literacy Day to be celebrated on Wednesday

Family Literacy Day to be celebrated on Wednesday./Cutline Screengrab courtesy Prince Albert Public Library

A national celebration of literacy is coming to the city Wednesday.

The Prince Albert Public Library and Prince Albert Literacy Network are commemorating Family Literacy Day with events this week.

Mack Rogers of ABC Life Literacy Canada says Family Literacy Day is celebrated across the country, and has been for the last 22 years.

He explained that partners across the country it is celebrated in classrooms, community centres, homes and libraries.

“It is just really a celebration of family literacy and that can be anything from reading and writing to numeracy to playing games and singing songs and cooking food together,” Rogers said.

Rogers explained that activities have become really innovative in Prince Albert with their partners at the Public Library and Literacy Network

“The Prince Albert Public Library has a guest author, Mary-Louise Gay, who is doing a Facebook virtual event.

Also, the Prince Albert Literacy Network is doing a whole bunch of really cool activities and focusing around digital literacy and exploring the world with the family through stories and virtual engagement.”

The library’s exclusive pre-recorded reading by Marie-Louise Gay is of her book “Travels with my Family”.

The video will available from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30, which has also been declared Family Literacy Week, on the Library’s website and Facebook page.

For more information, call the library directly at (306) 763-8496

Kara Thorpe, Family Literacy Coordinator for the Prince Albert Literacy Network, explained that the week really kicked off on Saturday, Jan 22 with a Story Adventure through the Gateway Mall.

On Saturday, families began their journey at the PALN office and completed an alphabet walking that began with “a” and ended with “z” at the office.

“When they complete that they get a family fun kit with all kinds of activities to do with family back when they get home,” Thorpe said.

The walk was based on the book Never Rub Noses With a Narwhal by Ruth Wellborn. Wellborn is an author from Saskatoon and the book is an alliterative Arctic ABC book.

“We learn all kinds of new things and words based on some of the different areas of the Arctic. The exciting thing is that those families that get a copy of that book,”

The adventure continues on Wednesday when Wellborn is doing a live reading at 10:30 a.m. which will be posted online at the Saskatchewan Literacy Network website.

“You can follow along with the book, or if you don’t have the book you can also still follow along an she’ll be doing a small little activity afterwards. So that is all interconnected. After the reading is done … (the) online reading will remain online on YouTube. So families that miss it during the day they can catch it later on,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe said that they want to get as many families a copy of the book prior to the reading. They are giving out books to schools and teachers on request. Books have already been distributed to Leask and they are working on getting books to Spiritwood.

According to Rogers, in a normal year, without a pandemic, children spend five times more time outside class than in class and that means parents are a front line for education,

“What our parents as educators model and do with us really helps set the tone and actually helps set us up for academic success, as well as economic and professional success. So it’s really kind of a key piece and the thing that Family Literacy does so well,” he explained.

Rogers said that it is a celebration but ABC also provides resources to get started at He explained that this year most events would take on a virtual showcase of events. Family Literacy First is a community program, which brings parents and children together to practice family literacy through free online resources. The program offers resources in different language, including English, French, Simplified Chinese, Tagalog and Arabic.

“And we really think it’s not about which language you are practicing, it is that you are practicing family literacy. And to be clear it isn’t just reading stories and answering questions and that sort of thing. There are activities around science and cooking and exploring the world around you and really kind of having a celebration of song and working together as you figure out what is your favourite way to learn,” he explained.

According to Rogers, literacy supports for adults and youth in Canada are not strong but they can be improved using resources.

“I think that the things to think about are that it doesn’t have to be some sort or structured two-hour commitment. It can be just 15 or 20 minutes of fun. Games are a great way to practice your skills and to engage,” Rogers said.

“And we forget that learning is a social aspect. Particularly in a pandemic, being home a lot, we are losing that social aspect. So I think as caregivers it’s on us to help create that social interaction that allows people’s brains to really absorb what they are trying to learn,” he added.

Thorpe explained that local goals are very similar.

“Especially in this time of COVID, family literacy is just such a core part of who we are and how we develop as a family. From cooking together to telling stories of generations past, it is just the way that we can bond and we can learn and grow together. So, for example, our story walk is about the Arctic, there is a ton of words in there that even the mommies and daddies were saying ‘I don’t know how to say that word’ so they were learning as well,” Thorpe said.

She added that when families grow and learn together it’s the positive of family literacy because parents are the first teacher.

“To just empower parents to do that learning and growing and to see all of those little things that they do as important and valuable. Oftentimes we get bogged down and we kind of throw supper on the table but if we just remember to allow our children to count the forks as they put them out we are doing literacy with them and that’s all it takes,” Thorpe said.

“Just to know that we are all learning and growing together. We oftentimes are very judgemental as parents and we want to take that judgement away and say what you are doing is right, celebrate and have fun,” she explained.

‘It really is an important day particularly this year it’s great.