Mar 202013

Sarah and Lauren are about to turn two and have already changed so much in the past few months. They are doing a lot more talking and have increased their use of two and three word sentences. They say “please” and “thank you” when requesting things they want and are better able at using their words to express themselves.lauren reading 2

They also point to objects and name them on a regular basis, looking to us for confirmation as they label everything in their world. They continued to attend story time at the local library and love to do the finger plays and sing songs. Their favourite songs right now are “Happy Birthday”, “Twinkle, twinkle”, and singing the alphabet. Although their accuracy of the words is not 100% yet, every time we sing with them they seem to be saying the words more clearly and confidently.

Their love for books continues to grow and they have their favourites that they seem to like to read over and over again! They can answer simple questions that we ask them while reading such as “where is the dog?” or “what kind of animal is that?”. I think it is also really important to make comments and observations while reading books with them to get them to start thinking about the story and make predictions about what will happen or what a character might be feeling. This is helping to develop a child’s reading comprehension which is a very important lifelong skill for understanding what we read and for developing critical thinking tools.

I have noticed that the girls’ ability to sit and listen to a story from beginning to end has increased, indicating that they are probably paying more attention to the story as opposed to simply looking at the pictures. They often point out things to us as well without prompting, which indicates that they are remembering particular details or pictures from having read the same story previously.

An alumna of UBishops, Megan Collins lives in Calgary with her ‘growing family’. We’ve been featuring Megan’s posts about Lauren, Sarah, and their books since December 2011. Let’s compare Sarah, when her fingers were soooo tiny holding a book, to now!

Sarah reading

…and now!     sarah reading

Feb 282013

When people hear the word ‘literacy’ they might first think about the basic skills taught in early school years. Foundation skills such as the 3Rs (reading, writing and math) are key skills needed for educational success by each and every student making their way through 13 years of pre-university schooling. Today other ‘literacies’ are considered equally important in schools, such as health literacy, sports literacy, computer literacy, citizenship, to name a few. Learning in a school setting is called formal learning and entails a curriculum taught progressively and diplomas awarded periodically so students may continue on a path of formal learning.

Community literacy programs are informal learning opportunities. These programs may take the form of a workshop, a talk, a one-on-one lesson, or an online video. Community literacy programs provide an alternative approach to learning. Sometimes called popular education because people decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn, community literacy programs are often cost-free and volunteer-based. You’ll find these programs taking place at community centers, cafes, museums, libraries, shopping malls, street festivals, to give a few examples. More often than not there is no preset curriculum. Instead these programs tend to shape themselves to meet specific learning needs expressed by individuals.

Jan 252013

Maybe it’s a snow-storming day or the outside temperature is -30. It’s too cold to go to the library. Your preschooler is restless and wants to read a new book. How about “The Snowy Day”, a winter classic by author E J Keats.

What? Don’t have that book in the house? No problem. Read it online at We Give Books. Register on the website (no fuss, muss, or cost), choose a book, and let your child turn the pages. It’s fun! Here’s what you’ll see on your computer screen.

The Snowy Day page

We Give Books is just one of the new digital initiatives enabling anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them, simply by reading online. Sort and choose books by category: age (0-3, 4-7, 8-10), subject, author, most recent, most read, and alphabetical. Think of it as your virtual bookshelf, an extension of the home and library bookshelves.

Here’s a screen shot of the We Give Books bookshelf.


Research shows that technology is engaging reluctant young readers in the act of reading. Parents can try reading online books to turn around attitudes, such as ‘books are boring’.

Another free and easy-to-use ‘booksite’ is the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL). Your child can spin a globe and choose books from around the world. Simple searches are made by categories such as; age, character, picture or chapter, short or long, award winning books, by colour! or language (19 languages in all). You’ll be surprised by the collection … we found a children’s book circa 1902! Click here to go to the ICDL website, then let your child click away!

Jan 222013

With Family Literacy Day just 5 days away, it seems appropriate to shine a light on Canada’s National Reading Campaign.

The National Reading Plan addresses ways to ensure that each of us — regardless of age, background, income level, level of education, or location — has access to reading of all kinds and in all platforms.

In 2008 a group of volunteers got together to talk about a nationwide way to make Canada a country of readers. Out of this initiative was born our own National Reading Plan. The Plan lists 11 reasons why reading is important. Excerpted from this list are reasons like reading inspires, reading lays the foundation for future learning, reading increases self-worth and triggers the imagination, reading preserves culture and increases individuals’ health and economic well-being.

A NRC activity that is underway is “What did you read today?”. This is a public awareness campaign aiming to make reading a national priority and to encourage governments at all levels to take policy steps to make Canada a nation of readers.

What did you read today?

Reading is the simple, accessible, ordinary yet extraordinary thing we do that makes us, and every day, better. Just by opening a book, a blog or whatever you choose, you open yourself up to new ideas, cultures and perspectives. And in a global economy where knowledge is power, reading is the turbine. That’s why when Canada reads, Canada grows.

Find out all about it here.