It's International Literacy Day 2018!
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
SO excited for International Literacy Day 2018! Full disclosure: My mom had to text me a reminder :). So far, we've celebrated (on accident) by reading Stone Soup at Tinkergarten and then making our own stone soup. We also scribbled in sand to work on pre-writing! I'll spend the first part of this blog post talking about one of my passions - emergent literacy - and part talking about tips for celebrating International Literacy Day. #internationalliteracyday2018
What is emergent literacy?
Emergent literacy is an understanding that honors that kiddos are gaining literacy (reading, writing, and speaking) skills before they can read, write, and speak. Some example skills are responding when you say "outside" by walking to the door, scribbling, holding a book the correct way, making sounds, turning pages, etc. Officially, the emergent literacy stage starts at birth, but research suggests it's earlier. Kiddos feel vibrations and hear sound en utero, so that's really where we start to set the stage for a literacy rich life! One book I had to read for my class in emergent literacy was Already Ready by Wood and Glover - I LOVE that phrase! It is a GREAT reminder that our kiddos are already ready for SOOO much more than we sometimes give them credit for! And, it's a reminder to celebrate the smallest things (like your kiddo making a new sound for an hour in the middle of the night...).
How can we celebrate International Literacy Day 2018 today and every day?
Do something as a family/class to create a literacy rich environment. With little kids, this could be putting magnet letters on the fridge or using double-sided tape and sentence strips to label things around the classroom or house. This could also help remind kiddos where things are in your room since many teachers just started the school year. Kids can make letters using textured objects to hang around the house or room. Pasta, sandpaper, squished up tissue paper are great! Any time your kiddos then trace the words they are preparing to write later! With older kids, try black out poetry or turning a scene from a favorite story into a graphic novel spread. Create an enticing reading nook with blankets and pillows or carpet squares and an old but pretty yoga mat in a corner of your classroom or home (at home, closets work too :).
Play with words. Share a favorite nursery rhyme. Rhyme letters to different words (I to pie, eye, sky; A to tray, play; E to bee, ski, tree). Read a story and clap the syllables. With older kids, play Taboo, Pictionary, charades, etc - you can always make your own cards :).
Read a story together! No matter the age, story time ROCKS! And, stories often inspire play and learning that sticks. Our current favorite since we just moved is Florette by Anna Walker. We'll read it later and draw on some of our massive stack of boxes like in the book. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems or A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni could lead to a scavenger hunt for stuffed animals. After reading a chapter of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants, kids could design their own superheros. Sarah Dillard's Mouse Scouts could inspire readers to create their own badges, grow their own gardens, or plan their own camping trip (even if it's in the living room). A chapter or two from Serafina and the Black Cloak could inspire readers to look at a map of Biltmore Estate and plan their own dream visit or design their own mansion. Reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber with teens could lead to creating riddles and clues for a more advanced family scavenger hunt or DIY escape room.
Writing and listening are part of literacy too! Start journaling with fun prompts. Do a doodle a day with little ones. Listen to music and discuss the lyrics. Try an audio book or podcast for time in the car. Draw with chalk, write with a stick, paint letters or scribbles with water on your deck. Scribbles (even the ones on furniture...) evolve into drawing and writing as well as ownership of work.
Set realistic expectations and compromise as needed. Have very young kiddos? Try a picture walk or wordless book so you don't feel pressured to read the whole story. Read a page, act it out, turn the page! Or, view each two pages as a chapter and don't worry if your kiddo/s wander off. Have "non-readers"? Choose a high interest book and movie pair and use the movie trailer as a hook and viewing the whole movie as a celebration. I know a teacher who does #FirstChapterFriday's - she chooses a book from her shelf or the school library, reads a chapter, and tells students where they can find the book. Worst case scenario, discuss the story line and characters in a video game your kiddo has parked in front of - it's still literacy!
*While I provided links to Amazon, I encourage you to check out your local booksellers to support your local economy, attend a great story time, and to get amazing suggestions from booksellers! Some of my favorite stores are Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC; McIntyre's Books in Fearrington Village, NC; Read with Me in Raleigh, NC; and bbgb in Richmond, VA. (I'm not affiliated with them and haven't been paid to say that. And, I do also love Amazon :).