Building literacy skills one word at a time Canada enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the world, and yet, according to Human Resources and Social Development Canada, at least 40 per cent of Canadian adults do not meet the minimum level required to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. Literacy - the ability to read and write, and also to understand and use language - takes root in early childhood. Studies have shown that children who are read to by their parents develop stronger language and listening skills, vocabulary, and creativity. In addition, toddlers aged two to three who are read to several times a day do significantly better in kindergarten than those who are only read to a few times a week or less, according to ABC Canada Literacy Foundation.
"Literacy is about brain development, education, and creativity, but it is also about fun," says Brad Martin, president of the Canadian Publishers' Council (CPC). "Whether being read to by a caregiver, for a school assignment or for leisure, there is a lot of power in each and every book, not to mention important childhood memories of curling up with a parent or grandparent to read a favourite story."
Encouraging literacy at a young age isn't just the responsibility of children and their family - community support is also important. Libraries, book stores and schools all play important roles in fostering the love of reading. And Canadian publishers are also doing their part by supporting numerous literacy initiatives.
In the past five years, members of CPC have donated millions of books and more than $1.2 million in funding to special literacy initiatives. In addition to providing resources to hospitals, hospices, and schools, publishers have also created book fairs and sponsored fundraising events and various national charitable organizations, including ABC Canada.
"For members of CPC, it's not just about the book - it's also about the value of the story. We want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to be exposed to literature and the lifelong benefits that come with it," says Martin.
Literacy, like math and science, has helped define and shape our culture. Ensuring that our children can learn and grow through reading will ensure that our culture, too, can learn and continue to grow. The sooner children are exposed to reading, the sooner they will benefit both mentally and educationally. It's never too early for a child to develop a passion for books.
Visit www.pubcouncil.ca for more information about the Canadian Publishers' Council.
- News Canada