I didn’t learn to read until I was in Grade 3 and struggled with literacy issues in childhood, but I pushed on with life. I limped through college and university until finally an alarm bell went off when a nurse handed me my beautiful new baby and some lovely new books. Literacy had come full circle. It was important, and I didn’t want my child to have the same experience with literacy that I had. It was time to pay attention to it.
Every single night, I read four books to my daughters. We also create a lot of spoken word stories and use funny jokes to weave literacy into our daily life. My youngest daughter, who is now in Grade 3, is participating in CBAL’s Fostering Literacy reading program, and I am witnessing firsthand the improvements in her confidence and the joy she gets from reading.
We know that strong literacy skills mean better socio-economic outcomes: increased literacy levels of 1% will see the labour force increase production by 2.5% (Alexander, 2022). Robust literacy skills matter for community participation and inclusion, health and safety, personal finances, and success at work. (Decoda, 2018).
As a first-year literacy outreach coordinator with Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), I’m expanding my literacy circle even more. I was told that my learning curve would be like “getting a drink of water from the end of a fire hose!” Oh, they got THAT right!
By providing technology tutoring and English language class, I hope to reach out to people who hope to improve their literacy skills. I’m trying to reach parents or caregivers who wish to use play-based activities to help their children improve their reading, writing, speaking, and thinking skills.
I’m grateful for the strong CBAL and provincial team around me. As I look towards developing my literacy career, I’m inspired by Margaret Sutherland, the out-going executive director of Decoda Literacy Solutions and long-time literacy practitioner, advocate, and role model:
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the literacy field with so many great people – literacy practitioners and partners from around the province, the many learners I had the pleasure of getting to know and working with, and my colleagues at Decoda and at CBAL, where I got started on my literacy journey. I am particularly grateful to my mentors Leona Gadsby, Ali Wassing and Jaquie Taylor for giving me opportunities, letting me try new things and occasionally giving me a gentle push! Literacy makes a difference, and it is interesting and rewarding work.”
I started on this path as a struggling reader, but I found more than just stronger literacy skills. When I received help as a child, and when I looked for help as an adult, I found a world full of possibilities that inspired me to continually grow and learn. Here are two of my favorite literacy websites that I’ve discovered this year – they are both sites which provide online storybooks in many languages.
Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator Kimberley
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy