National Family Literacy Day is an annual awareness day started by ABC Life Literacy in 1999 to promote the importance of fostering literacy in our communities and at home. This year Family Literacy Day falls on a Monday – January 27th to be precise – but why limit your celebrations to one day when you could be riding the reading and writing train all week? We have plenty of suggestions for how you and your family can share a story together throughout the week.
We’ll start with the obvious: Read a book together!
Our Social Enterprise Manager Extraordinaire, Beck, has been recommending the classic Norton Juster children’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, left right and centre recently. Story Planet’s Alien Chieftess, Liz, recommends The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten for middle grade readers. The bilingual (English and Cree) picture book, Caribou Song by Tomson Highway and John Rombough, is the current favourite of the Head of Interstellar Communications, Genie. These titles and more are all available to purchase at the Intergalactic Travel Authority.
More info: https://storyplanet.ca/store/
If the storytellers in your family are not at the reading and writing stage yet, or happen to thrive on oral storytelling, why not explore literacy through digital media tools. Hilary Leung, author of the Ninja Cowboy Bear series, and The Pirate Girl’s Treasure, recently introduced us to Sago Sago, a company that creates storytelling apps for kids. An app like Sago Mini Doodlecast allows you to draw and record your voice at the same time so that you can tell a story as you illustrate, or just capture your whole creative process at once.
More advanced readers and writers should explore Wattpad – an online platform for storytellers. On Wattpad you will find stories written by both Margaret Atwood and your neighbour down the street. Explore new genres, discover new authors, or publish your own work!
Have fun with your words by playing a literary board game. Tried and true classics like Scrabble and Boggle are always fun, but there are so many more games out there to discover. Bananagrams is a raucous no-holds-barred, free-for-all version of Scrabble, where players compose their own word chains and race to be the first to use up all their tiles. Rory’s Story Cubes are an excellent prompt for story writing: simply throw the dice and compose a story based on the pictures that come up. Bananagrams, Rory’s Story Cubes, and many more fun literary games are available to purchase at the Intergalatic Travel Authority.
More info: https://storyplanet.ca/store/
Spend your P.A. day at the library with everyone’s favourite coward, Scaredy Squirrel! Scaredy and the librarians at the Amesbury Park branch of the Toronto Public Library have organized a literary scavenger hunt for adventurous readers (but not too adventurous!). Visit the TPL website to see the many other Family Literacy activities happening all this week and next.
Participate in a Story Mob! “A what?” you ask, allow me to explain. Much like its predecessor, the Flash Mob, a Story Mob is a secret gathering of people that appear all together all at once to add some magic and whimsy to the lives of passers-by. But instead of hitting each other with pillows, or doing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance, Story Mobs recreate a beloved children’s story. Small Print Toronto has teamed up with the the TPL to organized several Story Mobs at locations throughout the city. This Saturday they are taking on Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. For reader parts, costume ideas, and more info on how to get involved, head on over to the Story Mob website.
Bring your family to Story Planet for the launch of Gabby: Drama Queen, a new book in the Gabby series from author Joyce Grant and illustrator Jan Dolby. There will be fun activities and games all afternoon, and both the author and illustrator will be there to sign copies!
You might also want to pay a visit to the Ontario Science Centre for their star-studded Family Literacy Day line-up. Robert Munsch, Ruth Ohi, Kenneth Oppel, Kevin Sylvester, and other bright literary lights will be in attendance!
The theme for this year’s Family Literacy Day is “15 Minutes of Fun.” ABC Life Literacy has an excellent list of ideas for how you and your family can share some time together and improve literacy at the same time. Best of all, these activities are simple and free! Why not invent your own riddles together (#6), or make up a recipe together and post it online (#3). Head over to their website for the complete list.