It Isn't Just About Reading

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For Summer Literacy Facilitators at London Public Library, the summer is starting to come to a close, and as I have been saying goodbye to my students, the importance of literacy has grown more and more apparent.  When people think of literacy, they tend to visualize academic work, but it is so much more than that. Literacy can be school and books, but it’s also about…

Pursuing your interests

Imagine being unable to read and write. I bet if you didn’t have those skills, you probably wouldn’t be able to pursue your passions.  Do you love sports? If you couldn’t read, you couldn’t keep track of game statistics or learn about the great players of the past.  Is knitting what you’re into? Then you have to be able to follow instructions and diagrams, which is impossible to do without literacy skills. Yes, reading often has to do with academics, but on a base level, it is about having the skills to do what you want. Whether my students wanted to write a birthday card for a family member, play a tricky trivia game, or learn about animals, literacy has been a part of the process, and by improving their reading abilities, they are that much closer to the knowledge they crave. 

Being with family

Many of the positive associations I have with literacy are based in family tradition. Bedtime stories were always a great treat, and one of proudest moments as a child was when I began to read stories in my head, just like my mom. Over the summer, I’ve loved hearing about how my students appreciate story-time at home, and ask to read together with parents more often. Even my older students have discovered a love for explaining plots and cliffhangers to their families. Doing literacy-based activities can create memories for the years to come, and in a way that activities like television or video games cannot match.

Building community

Many wonderful communities are built upon the ideas of literacy. The most obvious example is, of course, the library, but most libraries go far beyond providing the public with materials. There are craft workshops, lectures, movie nights, story-times, tutoring sessions, study rooms, board games, and more.  Arts communities offer events like the Fringe Festival and Nuit Blanche, where people can go experience art by being a part of an improv show or see circus performers on stilts. There are even online communities that support literacy, like Goodreads or LibraryThing, which track your reading progress and let you share your opinions with fellow readers. Some of the best places around are focused on sharing stories, and the only way to be a part of them is to care about stories too.

My job may be over, but I hope you continue to add literacy to your life in fun and inventive ways. Are there any other benefits to literacy that I didn’t include? Which ones have been the most important to you?

Submitted by Emma A., August 2014