55 Ways to Help Boost Literacy in Our Community!

Here is a post that I wrote and added to the City of Cornwall, Ontario Facebook Page a few weeks ago: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/56966551045/doc/10150495758861046/ It was originally meant for Family Literacy Day but most items on the list could apply on any given day. 



January 27, 2012


55 Ways to Help Boost Literacy in Our Community!

By Kelly S. Landon Ruest, B.A. Hon; M.A.; Ph.D. Candidate ABD

Here are a few suggestions that you may try on this rainy Family Literacy Day: 

  1. Read to a child:  Charlotte’s Web; Captain Underpants; The Stinky Cheesman; Good Night Moon; I Love You Forever; Freckle Juice, anything by Munsch or Seuss or Shel Silverstein too!  I think Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White remains my favourite…the story of a kind friend who wrote positive words on her web.  “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.”  I have read Pp.109, 110, 111 countless times.
  2. Give an adolescent a classic book: If you happen to have an ereader many can be downloaded for free!  Also, encourage them to read what interests them most.  I loved reading The Outsiders; The Diary of Anne Frank; and the Power of One, and Lord of the Flies as a young teen.
  3. Visit the Cornwall Public Library and learn about the many programs they offer.  Read the 2012 writing contest winners online: http://www.library.cornwall.on.ca/en
  4. Visit the Boys & Girls Club of Cornwall and S.D.&G. for they are hosting Family Literacy Day events  506 Clubhouse,  506 First Street Cornwall ON  January 28, 2012 1:00 - 3:00 pm  http://www.bgccornwallsdg.com 
  5. Sing songs and nursery rhymes to babies and toddlers.
  6. Pick up a newspaper and let your children see you reading it.  Let them circle all the words they recognize on it. 
  7. Play Scrabble or UPWORDS.
  8. Play a game of ‘Hangman.’
  9. Hold a family spelling bee.
  10. Give an adolescent their own journal to write in.
  11. Buy a child a comic book.  Have a child invent their own comic book just like the boys in Captain Underpants.
  12. Read Chicadee, Chirp, & Owl magazines.  Read National Geographic magazines.
  13. Have your child help you follow a recipe from a Canadian Living magazine or Chatelaine.  Both have great recipes this month!
  14. Read to an elderly grandparent.
  15. If you like a certain quote, read the whole book…Context is everything.
  16. Read the fine print.
  17. Complete a word search or crossword puzzle.
  18. Volunteer to help someone learn to read at the Try County Literacy Centre 101 Second St W.  Cornwall, ON K6J 1G4 (613) 932-7161.
  19. Enter a writing contest. http://www.canauthors-ottawa.org/contests.shtml
  20. Make homemade alphabet soup.
  21. Read something that challenges you, something that seems just a little bit too hard.  Read something that you need to read three or even four times before you understand it.  The first thing I had to read in university was Plato’s Republic.  I struggled with it more than once.  However, Book 7 contains the “Allegory of the Cave” a lesson about teaching and learning that I will cherish always.  It was the first of many great lessons.  It was well worth the struggle. 
  22. Look up a new word in the dictionary.
  23. Write a letter to the editor.
  24. Handwrite an ‘I love you’ note and leave it on your child’s pillow.  List everything you love about your child.
  25. Use an encyclopedia to answer a child’s question.  Ask your children: “What have you always wondered about?”
  26. Read a book with a boring old cover.  My favourite was: A Map of Misreading by Harold Bloom.
  27. Read a book with an intriguing and appealing cover.  I liked the cover of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing.  (Warning: this book is graphic and intended for a mature audience.)
  28. Send a post card to your grandparent, your aunt or your cousins.
  29. Have the courage to read aloud even if you stumble or hesitate. I still trip over words sometimes.  Take a breath, exhale and take another breath and keep reading.  Be patient when someone is reading aloud.
  30. Take a second to remember that the other way to spell u r gr8 is:  You are great!
  31. Encourage a child to use a pencil and paper.
  32. Have your child send an email to a friend.
  33. Try out for a play.  Watch a story come to life.  Take your child to a local play sometime. 
  34. Read a professional journal article.  For example: http://www.cjsonline.ca  
  35. Have your child write out the “menu” for the day and ask him or her to colour the pictures beside each item.
  36. Recognize that one of the most effective ways to teach a child to read is to teach their parent to read.
  37. Tell an adult learner you’re proud of their efforts.
  38. If you celebrate Valentines Day, have your child make and sign their own cards for Valentine’s Day.
  39. Have your child write the grocery list and cross off the items as they are placed in the cart.
  40. Watch a film with subtitles.
  41. Look up 5 words in a language that is new to you.  Try to fit them into a sentence.
  42. Teach your child to read the sugar and sodium contents on the nutritional value labels located on the packaging of the food they eat.
  43. Learn sign language, brail, and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).   Read The Story of My Life by Helen Keller or Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin.
  44. Consider furthering your education.  Talk to a guidance counselor today.
  45. Teach a child how to read safety signs and basic traffic signs.
  46. Write the words:  “I read to a child today.  Happy Family Literacy Day!” on your Facebook status.
  47. Practice printing block letters and cursive writing with downloadable tracing sheets.  Have your children do the same.
  48. Read the lyrics to one of your favourite songs…and think about them.
  49. Learn to type effectively with free online learn to type games and programs.
  50. Write a poem, write a song, sing along…Karaoke!
  51. Wonder to yourself…  “How many people cannot read this list?”
  52. Read Statistics Canada publications regarding literacy in Canada and Ontario: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/subject-sujet/result-resultat.action?pid=1821&id=2549&lang=eng&type=OLC&pageNum=1&more=0
  53. Send a ‘thank you’ note to the person or people who taught you to read. Or…  Send a ‘thank you’ note to the person or people who are teaching you to read. 
  54. Be proud of your ability to read no matter what your current reading level is.
  55. Don’t just learn to read.  Strive to read and write as well as you possibly can.  It can change your life.  And, even if you don’t know me, know that I am somewhere thinking:  “I think you can!  I think you can!  I think you can!!!”

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