Province celebrates family literacy

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HALIFAX – Families are coming together to practice and improve their literacy skills as part of this year's Family Literacy Day celebrations on Sunday.

A series of events will be held over the weekend, beginning with the Fairview Family Resource Centre in Halifax on Friday, which will include activities to engage the whole family in improving literacy.

"It starts at an early age. By reading to our children, we have the opportunity to instill in them a love for lifelong learning, giving them tremendous advantages in their lives," Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More said in a news release. "This is about Nova Scotian families spending quality time together through reading and learning."

More young children who struggle with reading are getting extra help in school, at earlier grades. The province introduced Succeeding in Reading last year, reaching almost 4,000 students in grades Primary and 1. Grade 2 students are also getting help to succeed in reading in classrooms this year.

The 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, released in December, showed that Nova Scotian parents are among the country's most active to help their children develop a love of reading. However, 38 per cent of Nova Scotians do not have the literacy skills necessary to understand and use information from things like editorials, news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.  

Libraries across the province are holding celebrations this weekend with activities ranging from sing-alongs to author readings, puppet shows and book giveaways.

"It's to encourage families to share the reading experience with their children," said Western Counties Regional Library deputy director Joanne Head, who is also children's services co-ordinator. "While families come in many forms, the library offers something for everyone."

In 2012, more than 1,500 Nova Scotian families participated in 16 literacy programs supported by the province. The programs feature special theme workshops, information sessions and learning circles offered by community-based literacy organizations. Also, the Family Learning Initiative Endowment Fund supports 21 programs administered by the Halifax Youth Foundation.

One of those programs is the Valley Community Learning Association's Publish It project, which connects with several elementary students and their families and has had tremendous success this year.

"We've been able to connect with about 180 families in our community through our literacy projects this year," said Peter Gillis, executive director with the association. "One project that gets a lot of attention is our Publish It program, which allows families to work together to make their own books, writing stories that express personal tales."

The province is also contributing $40,000 to the Read to Me! Program, which provides a free bag of books and reading materials to families of every baby born in Nova Scotia to encourage families to read to their children.

Parents, grandparents and guardians are encouraged to take part in family literacy programs to boost their literacy and transfer their commitment to lifelong learning to their children.  

For more information on family literacy, go to and select the adult learner tab.

For more information on events happening at libraries across the province, visit .

Organizations: Fairview Family Resource Centre, Western Counties Regional Library, Family Learning Initiative Endowment Fund Halifax Youth Foundation Valley Community Learning Association

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Nova Scotian, Nova Scotians Nova Scotia

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