Today is Leaders for Literacy Day! Championing the power that each of us has to nurture a child’s love of reading and writing is truly a cause for celebration. The LitWorld Way – our model for empowering whole communities to lead transformational literacy programs – is having an extraordinary impact in over 15 countries spread across five continents. Here are five things that you can do to create a thriving literacy culture in your community.
Personal narrative is a vital part of seeding literacy. Reading and writing skills grow so naturally through the telling of the stories children know best: their own. Encouraging children to write down their own experiences honors and celebrates who they are and affirms that their stories matter. This simple act is world-changing for children, especially those who are never asked to share their voices. A child who understands that her own stories hold great power will become a great leader and literacy advocate for her community!
Literacy is a Lifelong Relationship
The most wonderful thing about literacy is that is everlasting. Once a child learns how to read and write, no one can take that away. She will have a voice in the world forever. For this reason children must understand from the earliest age that literacy is a tool that they can use to shape their lives. To write down big goals and gather all the stories and information that they need to know to go after these goals fearlessly. One of the core questions that LitWorld asks again and again in our work with communities is this: “What does literacy mean to you?” For literacy to be transformational, it must be meaningful in the context of children’s own hopes and dreams.
Strong reading and writing muscles come from practice. The more children read, the more they will be able to read, and the more they will want to read. A child’s motivation to read comes from access to the kinds of books and texts that captivate them and pull them deeply beyond the words on the page into the magical world of story. Get authentic, diverse books – print or digital – that children don’t ever want to put down.
LitWorld’s mission is to empower young people to author lives of independence, hope and joy. The empowerment and independence follows naturally when children build strong reading and writing identities. LitWorld gives children the freedom to discover who they are as a reader. Do they like poetry, non-fiction, science fiction and fantasy? Children must have ownership over what they read and write about. Required reading lists and whole-class novels do not serve and inspire each child's unique tastes. Instead build in time each day for independent discovery and pursuit of curiosity.
Get Serious About Joy
One of LitWorld’s renowned programs is LitCamp, a summer intensive that combines the impact of literacy with the pure joy of summer camp. Joy is a key ingredient in lasting literacy outcomes. Children remember joy, they seek it out and will practice for hours the activities that make them feel good. Embrace the inherent joy in the power of story: Read aloud daily, and keep reading aloud through high school (no child, or child at heart, outgrows story time); Give children time each day to write in an inspiration notebook about something they care about (no more fill in the blank worksheets!); Make praise and affirmations central to a child's reading experience (every minute read is a reason to celebrate)!