I recently stumbled across a National Days Calendar and learned November has a designated Pickle Day and Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.
Though these are two I will skip, November is also National Family Literacy Month -- which is definitely worth celebrating.
In the South-Western City School District, we strive to create partnerships with parents. When families spend time reading, writing and building conversations, we see tremendous benefits in classrooms.
Children's book author Kate DiCamillo shares that, "Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift."
National Family Literacy Month seems like the perfect time to share a few ways for families to enjoy the gift of literacy together.
* Share stories with each other. For other options, talk about the day over dinner or flip through old photo albums and tell childhood tales. Skype grandparents and build conversations across generations. Encourage children to ask about and tell stories as they scroll through photos on your phone. Telling a great story is the first step in writing a great story.
* Play games together. "I spy with my eye something that starts with the letter ..." is always a hit. Young children also enjoy alphabet hunts; simply hide letters and the search begins. Many board games also lead to learning and laughter. Bananagrams, Balderdash and Scattergories are a few favorites.
* Read to your child often. Studies show that reading to children positively impacts literacy development. Make time daily to read and talk about books. When asked to "read it again," smile, and read it again (and again). Make weekly trips to the library and visit both fiction and nonfiction shelves. Allow your child to choose books that make them want to read. Choice is key in ensuring that reading is a gift and not a chore.
* Make choosing to read appealing. Create a reading nook, removed from electronics, with pillows and a basket for library books. Invite your child to plop down next to you to read and chat about books, while you read from your own "to read" pile. Find audiobooks for the family to enjoy in the car. Actually make your kids read the book before seeing the movies.
A few summers ago, my oldest son spent much of his summer reading. One of his teachers asked about our summer. She stopped me as I rambled about baseball and vacations. My son's reading scores had increased and she wanted to know what he did over the summer to improve his test results. The answer was simple: He read.
The more students read, the better readers they become. As teachers, we are working to increase the number of minutes students engage in reading during the school day. As parents, partner with us and do the same at home.
As a family, check out the National Days Calendar and decide which ones are worth observing. National Cocoa Day is one on our list.
But do not take on too many -- be sure to reserve time each and every day for the gift of reading!
Jackie Wissman trains literacy coaches for elementary and intermediate buildings in South-Western City School District.