I take books for granted, and for that I blame my father.
Dad was an elementary school librarian. He loved everything about books, from the heft of a title in his hands to the distinctive scent of its pages. They were everywhere in our home, and we’d spend the evenings reading as frequently as we spent the evenings watching TV.
I’ve never lived in a home without books. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized such homes existed. My teaching career brought into sharp relief the depth of our nation’s book poverty. According to statistics reported by Bernie’s Book Bank, 61% of low income families have no books for their children. What’s more, the ratio of books to children in middle class homes is 13 to 1. In lower class homes? It’s one book for every 300 children.
One book for every 300 children.
I have three children. We have hundreds of books. See why I take them for granted?
Building a foundation of literacy
If we are going to make changes to the state of our nation’s literacy level, it’s going to have to start at home, with us. Here’s how to build a foundation of literacy at home, one that not only fosters readers, but creates philanthropists and thinkers as well.
Make reading a part of your everyday lives. Take the paper. Subscribe to magazines. Build a family library at used books sales or at a neighborhood book swap. While you’re at it, start a neighborhood book club. Get entire families involved and read the same book, or choose companion titles for each age group represented. And for little ones, use this opportunity to teach proper book etiquette. We’re fond of saying that books are our friends: we don’t throw friends, hit friends, stand on friends or draw on them (well, mostly).
Pay literacy forward at book donation centers across the country (or even overseas). Volunteer your time with literacy organizations and take part in local book festivals. Literacy starts at home, but it takes root elsewhere if we plant it. Find a desert in your community. Be the oasis.
Engage in sensory activities. Fracture a fairy tale. Write a new ending, or pick up where a story left off. Make each picture book an opportunity for family activities. Have fun with the books you read and immerse yourselves in their world.
Start a read-aloud tradition, then move into reader’s theater. Illustrate a book with no pictures or make a mural of titles you’ve read. Turn your impressions into concrete representations. Become the characters, the author, the book itself and see what you discover.
Go on a literary field trip. Visit the local newspaper office. Read historical fiction and head to the history museum. Write a quote from a book in a giant piece of paper and annotate it, marking up the text to note what you thought or how it made you feel. Engage with the text and treat it like a living, breathing creature.
I take books for granted, and for that I blame my father. My hope is that someday, the rest of the world will, too.
This post is part of the Homeschool Blogging Network’s October Blog Hop. Check out the other great ideas for family time here:
Ideas for Quality Family Time – Monique @ Living Life and Learning
5 ideas for HOW to have family time with teens and adult children – Kim at Day to Day Adventures
5 Frugal Family Fun Ideas – Sara at Embracing Destiny
Family Time with Game Night – Stacy at Three Busy Bees
Carve Out Family Time with Halloween Classics – KT at Lit Mama Homeschool