Thursday is family literacy day, but the Fraser Valley Regional Library is running a contest through all of January. (Special to The News)

Thursday is family literacy day, but the Fraser Valley Regional Library is running a contest through all of January. (Special to The News)

ON THE PAGE: Every day can be family literacy day

A Maple Ridge librarian tells her own story of how she shared her love of reading with her son

by Liza Morris/Special to The News

Thursday, Jan. 27 is Family Literacy Day, but FVRL has decided to celebrate for the entire month of January with a special system-wide contest you can enter at your local library or online.

Family Literacy Day began in 1999 as a way to celebrate adults and children reading and learning together, and to encourage Canadian families to spend at least 15 minutes a day enjoying a learning activity together.

My personal journey into family literacy began with my son, who was born in 2005.

From pretty much the day he was born, my husband and I read to him daily. We started with baby board books, which I think he preferred to chew on more than he liked to listen to.

From there we began attending Babytimes and Mother Goose, where we heard stories and also learned new rhymes and songs.

Then, as he grew, we started reading longer and more complex picture books and attending Storytimes, Strong Start and joined Summer Reading Club. His grandma would also draw with him and they would make up fantastical stories about the pictures they had created.

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Eventually, we moved to reading him chapter books and discovered audio books, which he would listen to for hours on end.

Sometimes the stories seemed too complex for his age, but when I asked him about the story, he would accurately explain complicated plot lines and character development.

So with all of this, one would think he would be ready to start learning to read on his own when he started elementary school, right? Nope!

He really didn’t seem interested in reading at all, which is a shock considering his mother is a librarian, his father a teacher, and both are avid readers.

What I learned through his early elementary years is that children learn to read on their own at their own pace.

What we as parents can do is help them develop a love of stories that will give them the foundation to start learning to read when they are ready.

I also learned to let go of my own agenda.

It is hard to do when you feel your child should be reaching certain milestones within a set timeframe. It is even harder if you see other children ravenously reading on their own when your child just isn’t interested yet.

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It turns out we did give him the early literacy skills he needed to learn to read.

I share this story with many parents who come to the library looking for books (and maybe some reassurance) as their children begin their own reading journeys.

The library’s advice to parents is to make reading fun.

Pick books for children on topics they enjoy.

Continue to read to them, even if they can read on their own. Try all forms of books, including comics, graphic novels, and audio books.

Make sure they see the adults in their lives reading and enjoying books.

We celebrate Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27 but really, every day of the year is Family Literacy Day.

Stop by Maple Ridge Public Library this month to pick up a special Family Literacy Day themed Take & Make, enter the FVRL Family Literacy Day book draw in person or online, and ask library staff for reading suggestions for your family.

For more information about FVRL’s programs and services, check out www.fvrl.bc.ca or contact your local library.

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– Liza Morris is a community librarian at Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Maple Ridge branch

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