Taking time to read

Colette Ernst, Success by 6 Coordinator


Ever read to a child and watch their eyes brighten as you describe the scene as it unfolds in the story? Or sat side by side and listened to a child work out the sounds of words, in his favourite book that he can now read back to you? There is something powerful about literature and how it affects us, our perceptions, understanding and emotions.

Books are important to our family. Over the years we have collected books that are significant to us, some fiction and many nonfiction. I have a few select books from my childhood, that I have kept, and now read to my children, and each member of the family has favourites which are remaining in our home and read often.

In fact, when Trent and I first moved to Tumbler Ridge, and decided to purchase a home, we selected our home partially because it featured a wall to wall bookshelf in the basement TV room.

We know reading is a good thing, it inspires imagination taking you to new worlds, increases vocabulary and enhances concentration, stirs emotions and ideas, and help us relate to others. Reading to your children at a young age and as they grow creates a bond between parent and child, and increases academic excellence and the joy of learning. Reading applies to every aspect of life.

Intentionally the importance of literacy and books is recognized in September and October, as organizations like Life Literacy Canada use the International Literacy Day on September 8th to promote literacy for all ages, and the Canadian Library Association celebrates Canadian Library Month in October.

For the history buffs, written language has been around since 3400 BC, and the first surviving story ever written down is The Epic of Gilgamesh written on a series of tablets back in 2100 BC.

Today books can take many forms: traditionally bound paper books, e-books and audible stories, giving individuals the opportunity to read anywhere while doing almost anything. The digital age has increased the availability of books and literature past the walls of public libraries and books stores and offers those struggling with eye-reading the opportunity to enjoy literature and lean through listening on audible literature or larger print text available with digital media.

Digital literature has been an important benefit for our home, where we continue to read books as a family and individually. Walks to work, car rides and chores are often accompanied by listening to a story that we have chosen together. Nightly rituals include stories in bed, either read aloud or listened to digitally. Reading and literacy games are played on the iPads, and spelling is practiced for school with digital programs both on computers and tablets.

Today literacy has expanded from the tradition meaning to include such concepts as digital and computer literacy, media and information literacy. Toddlers are growing up in a digital age, where they are able to learn and grasp complex concepts with the help tablet programs designed to teach. With the ability to simply touch a screen children can have stories read to them in a similar way to watching a movie. As parents this may feel like respite, but that together time—reading aloud to your child—cannot be replaced by a machine.

Similarly, it is easy to acquire literature and books today without stepping into a public library. The federal government has cut funding to public libraries across the country and many literacy programs have had to start charging for access to tools and resources. In Tumbler Ridge, our library plays an important role in education, literacy development, and life-long learning in our community.

Programs for all ages are offered free throughout the week to provide opportunities to inspire interest in books and literature and ignite the imagination in children and adults alike. We are privileged to have interlibrary loans, language learning programs, eBooks and audible downloads available in Tumbler Ridge through our public library.

During the month of October, why not step by the library with your family and wish them a happy Canadian Library Month!