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Family Literacy Day

By Heidi Wicks

Bishop Field Elementary school hosted Family Literacy Day last month to celebrate the importance of good literature in adding value and richness to a child’s life.

Dr. Anne Burke, assistant professor of literacy education, took some time from her day to read to both the Grade 3 and 6 classes. Various local members of the media, as well as some communications co-ordinators from Memorial joined Dr. Burke.

“This book is especially valuable for Grade 3 students, as it teaches the value of using the imagination in various circumstances,” said Dr. Burke, who read David Shannon’s Too Many Toys to Faculty of Education alumna Stephanie King’s third-grade class. The book tells the story of young boy Spencer, who tries to persuade his mother to let him keep all his toys (because every single toy is his favourite).

“It’s a very universal story that most children can relate to” Dr. Burke, who enjoyed a post-reading chat with the grade threes, added. “In the book, Spencer ends up using the box his mother put all his old toys in and making it into a rocket ship. Children usually have stories they can share about how they take everyday items at home and turn them into play objects. An important part in engaging the children in the story is to ask them questions so that they can then relate the character’s situation to similar things happening in their own lives.”

Dr. Burke also told the Grade 3 class that it’s important to read things we enjoy reading, whether that’s a novel, a comic book, or the instructions to a video game.

“It’s essential for parents and teachers to encourage their children and students to read whatever – as long as they’re reading. If you force them to read something they aren’t into or don’t enjoy, it takes any joy away from the experience,” she said.

Student Tara Whelan also said she likes to read nonfiction books, because they teach her things she didn’t know.

“I like reading chapter books, and ones that are true, because that gives me information about what happened when I wasn’t around. My favourite book is Hana’s Suitcase, and that’s about the Holocaust,” said Tara.

Other students, like Lauren Samson, prefer the combination of colourful illustrations and story.

“I really like the pictures in pop up books, they’re my favourite. I like how they’re all drawn and just pop up. My favourite book is about Jillian Jiggs. I like her because she’s funny, and she has the same colour hair as mine,” said Lauren who was dressed up like the Phoebe Gilman character to celebrate her favourite books.

Student Keely Strickland, however, may be a little ahead of her years.

“My favourite book is (Robert Munsch’s) The Paper Bag Princess, because she doesn’t want to marry the Prince at the end, because he doesn’t think she looks like a real princess, because she’s not pretty enough or dressed nice enough,” she said.