International Literacy Day

If you’ve been following this blog for any time at all, you’ll know that we read. A lot. A tremendous amount, in fact. Today, we celebrate literacy around the world: the UN has declared today to be International Literacy Day.

I blogged about the state of literacy in Canada over at Joyful Writer a few days ago, because in doing a little research about literacy and what it means to be considered literate, I tripped over a statistic about Canadian literacy levels that absolutely shocked me — and I’m talking the almost fell out of my chair kind of shocked. I won’t repeat the whole thing here, instead I suggest you read what I had to say over at Joyful Writer, but I will say that there are far too many people in this world for whom literacy is a very real issue.

So how are we going to celebrate International Literacy Day around here? By reading, of course! Despite being back to school last week, we still manged to find time to read up a storm, and the storm is still going strong this week. Last week’s reads included the marvelous “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume, which the kids really enjoyed. They were astonished at the over-the-top antics of three-year-old Fudge at first, but then they started thinking about their three-year-old much beloved cousins, and remembering incidents and family stories about incidents from when they were that age and suddenly Fudge’s zaniness didn’t seem quite so outrageous after all.

We have also been reading “Les rebelles: contestataires et bâtisseurs”, by Robert Livesey and A.G. Smith. It’s part of a series on Canadian history for kids (the “Discovering Canada” series in English), and it is marvelously entertaining. The kids have been thoroughly enjoying learning about the days before Canada was Canada when Upper-Canadians and Lower-Canadians saw nothing wrong with arming themselves and going to battle against the British. K was thoroughly disgusted with the morals of the British soldiers who saw nothing wrong with setting a church on fire in order to smoke out the rebels hiding within and then proceeded to shoot the aforementioned rebels as they jumped out of the church’s windows (during the battle at Saint-Eustache, 1837). B is probably a little young (at 7) for the book yet, but she is still getting a lot out of it and the discussions that it has triggered. All in all, we are learning a lot of interesting things, discussing a lot of related things, and the kids are forming some very firm opinions on all sorts of ethical dilemmas.

And, because those aren’t enough, we’ve also been re-reading two or three of the “Copains du coin” series by Larry Dane Brimner and Christine Tripp every night before bed (in English they are “The Corner Kids”). They are easy reads, B is well able to read them by herself, and each one touches on an issue such as patience, sharing, responsibility, or the environment. It is a delightful little series and one we re-read a lot.

Last night, we went to the library and took out a whole new mess of books, including a new Magic Tree House #2 – a Knight at Dawn and Junie B Jones is a Graduation Girl for the kids to read to themselves, and the first book of the Dragon Slayer’s Academy for us to read aloud together. There are more than just those, of course, given that we never seem to leave the library with fewer than a dozen books, some easy readers, some picture books, and of course some just for Mom too. It should be a good week of reading around here, and what better way to celebrate literacy!

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