This week is National Literacy and Numeracy Week in Australia. The theme is getting the basics right. To me, that means putting an emphasis on quality literature, and encouraging kids to have a love of reading, rather than continually counting how many words they can read! National Reading Day (September 2) had the theme of a Story Sharing Safari.
Here are some suggested activities for a Story Sharing Safari from the NLNW website:
A reading performance. Present a reader’s theatre (have students write a reader’s theatre script using one of the books) and invite friends, family and community to come along to your performance. In writing the script, you might even add a twist to the original story!
A reading production. Make digital books (or paper books) in small groups in the weeks leading up to National Reading Day using one of the selected books or one of your choosing as springboards to retells and innovations on the stories. On National Reading Day, share your stories with family and friends at school, at a local community centre or perhaps at a school nearby where you can swap stories.
Parents, friends and community. Host a reading and storytelling event – a Readers’ Tea, afternoon tea, tales at twilight, a storytelling evening... Invite family and friends of your school to listen to the book(s) you have been reading. Ask them to bring their favourite book or story to share with your class - why not record their stories (with their permission) and create a story repository that can be listened to long after NRD is over? What a lovely resource for reading time at school.
Authors and storytellers in your community. Find some authors and storytellers in your local community and invite them along to share their stories. You might even be lucky enough to have a cultural group who could share stories and dance. Why not design and conduct interviews with them and make a podcast for your website? Perhaps they will share some of their writing secrets and dance steps with you!
The website also has some links worth exploring. Great ideas for schools, and adaptable by families.
When I look at the global statistics on literacy, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Unesco says, "Today one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women while 75 million children are out of school." My own literacy has been so important to me - reading, writing and communicating bring me pleasure, educate me, allow me to collaborate with people across the world. So what must it be like not to have access to literacy? And what on earth can I do about it?
Any journey, however long, starts with small steps. Sharing a love of literacy, and spreading the word about the importance of literacy is something we can do through our blogs, our communities, and via organizations dedicated to improving literacy. We can also make literacy a habit in our homes. Reading and writing in front of our kids is important so that they will see how much we value those activities. Reading aloud is such a fun way of celebrating literacy! We can do that with our own kids, or volunteer at a nearby school, or even one in another country.
Making literacy a daily habit in our own lives is often just a matter of remembering. Literacy Lava, a free pdf for parents, shares tips for those who want to cultivate that literacy habit.
International Literacy Day is on September 8. What will you do to celebrate?