September is full of new beginnings.
For families with school-aged children, it is the start of a new school year, a new teacher, new friends, and maybe a new backpack. College students are introduced to new instructors, new courses, and new ideas. People of all ages are starting up new programs whether it is through Elder College, through the Adult Learning Centre, or through the library.
For all students, young and old, it is a return to learning.
All learning, whether it takes place at school or on the job, is built on foundational reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Unfortunately, it is still the case that four in 10 Canadians have poor or weak literacy skills.
September is the ideal month to focus on literacy and on raising readers in our community.
This month, the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Association (CVLLA), the Adult Learning Centre and their many partners in literacy will highlight literacy and learning through the Raise-a-Reader campaign.
The campaign culminates on Raise-a-Reader Day on Sept. 25. Volunteers will be out throughout the Comox Valley handing out a special literacy edition in exchange for a donation.
Research tells us that there are three ways to help raise readers. The first is to read to children.
Children will have greater success in school and in their future educational and work pursuits if they are read to regularly. Reading to children fosters their love of reading. Parents who spend even 15 minutes reading to their children are very likely to have kids who love to read.
The second important way to foster readers is to have many books in your home.
Filling your home with books, even if they aren’t all read, creates a reading environment — one that is natural and comfortable. Books aren’t things that just belong in schools and libraries; they are a part of our everyday lives.
Many organizations and schools are working at getting books into the hands and homes of families. The public libraries are filled with fantastic reading material – all you need is your library card.
CVLLA also works to distribute free books to families at different times of the year including Hallowe’en (Books for Treats), Family Literacy Day (Jan. 27), National Childcare Day (May), and National Aboriginal Day (June 21). Check www.cvliteracy.ca for details.
The third important way to raise readers is to read yourself.
Kids copy what we do as adults. Ensure that they see how much reading is a part of your life.
And if you need support in your own reading, there are community resources and programs that can help. The Adult Learning Centre, for example, offers free one-to-one tutoring. Their website is www.cvalc.ca and their phone number is 250-338-9906.
The Raise-a-Reader campaign raises awareness of literacy as well as raises money for literacy programs, resources, and services in the Comox Valley. Every penny raised locally goes to local programs.
To donate online, go to www.raiseareader.com/donate and click on Comox Valley under Fund/Designation. To donate by phone, call 1-866-637-READ (7323).
For more information, contact the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Association by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-897-2623.
— Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Association