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Adopting literacy

Family Literacy Day is Jan. 27

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 17/03) - On grocers' shelves, signposts and local bulletin boards, words are all around us.

Educators have rated literacy as one of the most important of life skills.

The GNWT concurs with that belief and over the last three years funding and programming has saturated Northern communities.

Cate Sills, executive director of the NWT literacy council, believes that has helped raise literacy awareness in the North.

"Statistically the NWT has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the country," said Sills.

That is one of the reasons resources, time and money ($6 million over three years) have been invested into Northern literacy initiatives.

On Jan. 27 Sills is hoping every Northern community helps to promote literacy in the home.

"There is a lot families can do to close that gap," said Sills.

Reading for 15 minutes a day, reading labels at the grocery store or signs on the road, even just have a conversation with your children can help increase literacy and vocabulary skills.

The literacy council has sent packages to schools, adult education programs, early childhood programs, family support centres and friendships centres.

The packages contain ideas on how to celebrate Family Literacy Day as well as free giveaways and posters.

Sills added that the council will likely be doing something with the Yellowknife Public Library as well, but details have not yet been finalized.

"We think it is very important. Literacy has really taken off over the last two years," she said.

Creating that atmosphere has taken some time due to distance and cost of promotional materials and each community had different degrees of preparedness.

Although it is too early to tell if literacy levels are improving,

Sills said the interest and the awareness levels are increasing, which she said is a positive step.