National Family Literacy Month – it’s about families learning together

By: Phylecia Wilson | Volunteers for Literacy of Habersham County

One of my fondest memories growing up is listening to my mother read to me as we sat on our rose-colored Hide-A-Bed sofa in the tiny living room of our post-World War II tract home. My father also was an avid reader and between the two of them I learned my lifelong love for reading, my comprehension skills and my ability to think actively.

Parental involvement, especially in a pre-school child is of extreme importance because statistics show that children who have not developed basic literacy practices when they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out.

Did you know that 80 percent of brain growth occurs during the first three years of life? So babies who are read to and talked to learn more words by age two than children whose parents do not spend quality time with them. Babies that are read to and spoken to less can develop learning disabilities over their first six years.

The importance of families reading and learning together cannot be overemphasized and that’s why 23 years ago, the National Center of Families Learning (NCFL) worked with Congress to designate November 1 as National Family Literacy Day. Going further, the organization, recognizing the important role that families play in the education of their children, has proclaimed the month of November as National Family Literacy Month so that families can plan activities that focus on learning together.

If your family hasn’t already established a tradition of reading and learning together, this is the perfect time to start.

Need some help determining activities? The NCFL website – www.familieslearning.org – has some great ideas on their 30 Days of Families Learning Together Calendar that you can download. And while you may not do something every day, some of the activities might possibly become family traditions.

I remember when my children were in school, we had a tradition of bringing a new word to the dinner table to define and discuss. Each family member was assigned a day to choose the word. I was reminded of it when I read Day 5 on the calendar, Build a Word Jar. Here, you find new words, put them in a jar and at dinner pull one out and discuss it.

On Day 22, everyone chooses a famous person from history, researches their life, and during dinner, family members try to guess each other’s “Mystery Dinner Guest.” Other activities include simple art projects, cooking, and a lot of using your imagination.

Here are some other ways NCFL suggests to promote family literacy at home:
1. Set aside time each day for reading.
2. Keep books visible around the house.
3. Make regular visits to the library.
4. Read the book version of your child’s favorite movie.
5. Organize a children’s book club with friends in the neighborhood.

Don’t have time to go to the library this week? Drop by one of VFL’s 11 Little Free Libraries and choose a book or two to read. It’s Take One Leave One, but if you don’t have a book to leave that’s perfectly okay. Check out our website www.vflhabersham.com for the locations.

I love the Emilie Buchwald quote, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” It certainly was true for me. Whether it’s your child sitting on your lap or the family sitting around the dinner table, we at VFL hope that National Family Literacy Month will be a time when all Habersham families start at least one new tradition of reading and learning together as a family.

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