Archive for the ‘Improving Literacy’ category

Summer Literacy Learning: Keep your Kids off the Summer Slide

July 2nd, 2014

What happens when young minds aren’t in school for three months? It’s called the summer slide, a decline in school skills such as literacy that can happen to kids over the summer vacation.


You can help prevent the summer slide by keeping learning and literacy alive over the summer. Why not start now by implementing some of these tips?

  • Visit the library. Many local libraries have summer programs, including reading groups for all ages.
  • Fill the house with reading material. Stock up on children’s books so your kids have plenty of choice. There’s no need to buy new—many secondhand bookstores have great options, as do garage sales, thrift stores, and libraries. Why not host a book swap with fellow parents?
  • Be an example. Let your kids see you read the newspaper, magazines, books … the list goes on.
  • Let it be fun! Encourage your kids by letting them choose their own books—whether or not you’d define them as literature.
  • Encourage writing projects. Give your child a notebook to keep as a summer journal or scrapbook, or write letters or thank-you notes together.
  • Look for opportunities. Summer vacations can be full of learning opportunities. Teach your child to read a map, so he or she can help navigate a road trip; follow a simple recipe for chocolate chip cookies together; or look up flowers, trees, or mushrooms in a nature guide. It may not seem like it to your child, but these are both important literacy—and life—skills.


What about you? How do you foster learning over the summer holidays? Let us know your tips, tricks, and stories by posting a comment below!


by Leah Payne

Tell and Respond to Stories

April 6th, 2014

The Power of Stories

by Terry Small

We are all soft-wired to tell and respond to stories.

Phillip Pullman said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

He’s probably right. Stories are a powerful organizing tool for your brain’s neural network. A well-told, timely story can literally reshape the brain.

Stories give people a chance, not to see who they are, but who they might become. Narrative is powerful. Stories allow our brain to see the world differently. They give us hope.  Neuroscientists are investigating the science of hope.  It turns out that a feeling of hopefulness changes your brain.

The following article excerpt by Terry Small and published in Brain Bulletin #47: The Science of Hope attests to the power of Stories.  To read the full article please visit:

The Science of Hope.

Hope is important for your brain.

Neuroscientists are investigating the science of hope. It turns out that a feeling of hopefulness changes your brain. Your brain pumps chemicals when experiencing the sensation of hope. These chemicals can block pain and accelerate healing.

Hope, which involves belief and expectation, causes the brain to release neurochemicals called endorphins and enkephalins which actually mimic the effects of morphine. The result is that the brain can overcome hurdles and move to a place of recovery. In scientific terms, hope and recovery are not causally connected, but they are correlated.

I believe hope is as vital to the brain as the oxygen we breathe.

Times are difficult these days. A feeling of hopefulness can make a real difference!

What do I do for my brain? I feed my brain stories that paint a clear picture of hope.

Stories are the #1 brain state changer on the planet! Stories do far more than entertain. Neuroscientists believe that our brains are wired for stories. Stories captivate the brain. They release emotions that are inextricably tied to those of the story’s characters. Brain scientists call this “narrative transport”.

I believe storytelling has become a casualty of our busy, hectic pace of life. Parents, leaders, teachers….everyone should tell more stories. Remember a story is not a story until it is told.

To read more about Terry Small’s work and some of the stories he finds particularly enjoyable, visit his website at:



Book reviews: Stories to make your students laugh

April 5th, 2014
Stories to make your child laugh.

Stories to make your child laugh.

This article was written by Lucinda Tooker for teachers and published in the Teacher Magazine Volume 26, Number 5, March 2014. We thought it would also be very useful for parents looking to engage their children in reading. We thank Lucinda for allowing us to post it here. DM

Stories to make your students laugh

By Lucinda Tooker

I am always looking for picture books that lend themselves to lessons relating to the 6 Pillars of Character ( British children’s author Jeanne Willis and illustrator Tony Ross have teamed up for a number of suitable picture books, published by Andersen Press.

Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog are completely out of control. They are probably depressed, and their sole coping mechanism is to eat and watch TV. When they discover that everything in the house is shrinking (because of their expanding girths), they seek help from their distant cousins—the wild wolf and the cunning tiger. This book is really funny, and it gently conveys a message about the benefits of getting off the couch and leading an active lifestyle. Perfect for nutrition month in March!

Your parents would probably be relieved to read a bad report card, if the alternative was to lose you to a biker gang. So goes the premise of Big, Bad Bun, written as a letter from Fluff to his parents describing his misadventures with The Hell Bunnies. He really has only run as far as Grandma’s, where his parents pick him up after reading the bad report card Fluff tucked under his pillow. Personal accountability is discussion topic arising from this story.

When Colin Smally, the youngest of 10, heads outside for the very first time, his over-protective mother wraps him in cotton to keep him safe. But poor Cottonball Colin is not as safe as she had hoped! Still he has the time of his life, and thereafter is permitted to go out, unprotected, into the great, wide world. “Sometimes he got scared, and sometimes he got hurt. But ohhhh…it was worth it!” As with the other books, the illustrations add to the story, allowing readers to speculate about the validity of his mother’s concern.

Lucinda Tooker, teacher-librarian, Maple Ridge

Volunteer Information Session

September 4th, 2013

Monday September 16th  6:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Room 1073 Riverside Centre, 20575 Thorne Avenue


Find out how you can help support literacy in our community.  The Literacy Committee needs volunteers for a variety of positions.  Some of our volunteers help out on a regular basis, others only when they have time.


Here are a few examples of what our volunteers might do:  work with adult learners (next free training session starts September 23rd), help out at events, join our Committee, or prepare our newsletter.


Come to this information session to learn more about the Literacy Committee and our many volunteer opportunities.  Please RSVP to 604 721-3738.


Managing your money… a life skill.

May 28th, 2013

When we think about literacy, few of us think about money.  However, how we manage our money is in fact one component of literacy.  How we manage (or don’t manage) our money directly impacts our quality of life.  In the literacy world, it’s called: financial literacy.

Financial literacy is knowing how to manage our money to meet our personal and family goals.  Money management is something that few families discuss.  Our parent’s don’t teach us and it’s only recently become a topic in our schools.

So, if we haven’t learned about how to manage money at home or at school, where have we learned?  Most of us learn about money through trial and error, experience, and watching what others do.

Across the country there are organizations that are working to improve our money management knowledge.   Organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy, Practical Money Skills – Canada, and the Task Force on Financial Literacy are exploring how we handle our money with research, programs and services, and online tools.

Locally in British Columbia a number of programs and services are offered.  Whether looking for help for yourself or a friend,  check out these programs and services as a starting point:

Locally, the Literacy Committee is partnering with non profit organizations, and the above noted agencies, to strengthen local financial literacy.  Learn more about how partnering with us works by reading this Invitation to Partner on Financial Literacy 2013.  Want to know what our Financial Service Partners offer, read Financial Services Description 2013.

Interested in hosting a Financial Literacy workshop for your clients or the public, contact Angie McLeod.



15 Minutes of Fun!

January 16th, 2013

January is family literacy month.  It’s a time to celebrate and embrace all types of learning – formal and informal.  We all like to do things that are fun; we like to play games, do arts and crafts, sing and perform, or share our stories.  Each creates an opportunity for learning to happen.

Here are some quick and fun 15 minute activities.  Try something new.  Be creative.  Most of all, have fun!

  1. Create your own comic strip about your family.
  2. Invent two new endings to your favourite book.
  3. Make up a new recipe together and post it online.
  4. Explore another city from the comfort of your home by going online.  What’s exciting?
  5. Tell knock-knock jokes together while doing the dishes.
  6. Sing five songs really, really loud!
  7. Make up a family theme song using everyone’s names and favourite activities.
  8. Invent a new game while playing at the park.
  9. Read a story to your pet (or favourite toy).
  10. Create your own story populated by friends and family.  Share it with them.
  11. Make a paper fortune teller with eight fortunes.
  12. Write a silly poem and tell it to your family at dinner.
  13. Log on to your favourite word game – can you beat your best score?
  14. Create your family tree.
  15. Play rhyming “I Spy” – “I spy something that rhymes with…”
  16. Play a board or card game together.
  17. Text your friend and tell them about your holiday.
  18. Learn how to knit or crochet.
  19. Paint or draw a picture of what you see outside your window.
  20. Find 20 things that begin with the letter “S”.

Still looking for some new fun ideas of how you can learn together, check out our Family Literacy page or visit us at one of the Family Literacy Day events.




15 Minutes a day… that’s all it takes!

January 3rd, 2013

According to ABC Life Literacy, just “15 minutes a day can improve a child’s literacy skills dramatically.”   The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee is partnering with our local libraries to explore activities that parents can do with their children to improve a child’s literacy skills.

Many of these activities can be done while driving to and from activities, some don’t look or feel like literacy activities at all, and some are down right fun.  It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for your family and we can help with that…

Join us to explore Family Literacy at either or both of our two exciting, fun-filled FREE family events:

Sharing our Stories Open House, Pitt Meadows Public Library

Saturday January 19, 2013 from 11 AM to 3 PM

Join us to explore how stories have influenced our lives and shaped the lives that we lead at this fun filled family event.  Take part in a traditional Katzie welcome prayer, listen raptly during story time, or visit one of the fun interactive activity stations designed to entertain children of all ages.

This FREE Open House has something for everyone – children, youth, adults, and seniors. Refreshments and snacks provided between 11 AM – 1 PM.  Come share your story, and hear those of local residents!

Family Literacy Fair, Maple Ridge Public Library

Saturday January 26, 2013 from 2 PM to 4 PM

Test your skills at the interactive Amazing Literacy Race stations, listen to Paula Justis bring stories to life, join in a drumming circle Boris Sichon, take a bread in the teen lit cafe, or take part in one of the many other fun filled activities during our Family Literacy Fair.   Prizes to be won!  Get your passport stamped as you travel around the stations to be eligible to win great prizes including a Kobo E Reader and gift certificates for books.


For more information call 604.721.3738 or email: coordinator[at]


Book Clubs: Read and Connect

November 14th, 2012

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee is proud to offer two types of book clubs in our communities.  Book clubs offer participants an opportunity explore stories in depth, go on an adventure, or to connect with others with similar interests.

Two new book club formats are being offered: an Adult Learner Book Club and an Outreach style Book Club.

The Adult Learner Book club is for those adults who find it hard to read (that’s about 40% of our working age population).  Joining the book club is a great way to improve your reading skills.  It is also a great way to meet new people and to have some fun.  The Adult Learner Book Club will meet at the Maple Ridge Public Library starting January 31, 2013.  If you or someone you know would like to join a book club for adults who are trying to become better readers, please contact the Maple Ridge Public Library’s main floor information desk at 604.467.7417.

The Outreach Book Club is a reading and discussion group for vulnerable populations in our communities.    Outreach Book Clubs are hosted by local agencies.  Participants of the book club, or an agency staff member, generally facilitate the discussion and conversation around the selected story.  People who take part in a book club can feel an increased sense of community and self-worth.  If your agency or organization is interested in learning about the ins and outs of starting a book club for your clients, please contact coordinator{at} or 604.466.8254.

We’ve produced a guide book with tips and techniques on starting an Outreach Book Club.  If you’d like a copy, please contact coordinator{at} or 604.466.8254.



FREE Financial Literacy Workshops

November 6th, 2012

Ridge Meadows College and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee proudly present:

November 7, 7-9 PM – FREE Basic Banking workshop.  Ridge Meadows College and the Community Literacy Committee are co-hosting a FREE Basic Banking presented by Vancity volunteers.  This workshop provides individuals with an understanding of basic banking and financial services concepts.  Participants can expect to gain a working knowledge of money, banking, lending and the regulations necessary for handling financial transactions.  To register for this informative, hands on workshop call 604.466.6555 x 203, fax: 604.463.5437 or email  This workshop is held at Riverside Centre, 20575 Thorne Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC.

November 14, 7-9 PM – FREE Loans workshop.  Ridge Meadows College and the Community Literacy Committee are co-hosting a FREE workshop on Loans presented by Vancity volunteers.  Participants can expect to understand how loans function, costs and obligations of owning a loan including payment terms.   To register for this informative, hands on workshop call 604.466.6555 x 203, fax: 604.463.5437 or email  This workshop will be held at Riverside Centre, 20575 Thorne Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC.

November 21, 7-9 PM – FREE Credit Card workshop.  Ridge Meadows College and the Community Literacy Committee are co-hosting a FREE workshop on Credit Cards presented by Vancity volunteers.  Participants can expect to discuss how credit cards function and what the cost of credit really is.   To register for this informative, hands on workshop call 604.466.6555 x 203, fax: 604.463.5437 or email  This workshop will be held at Riverside Centre, 20575 Thorne Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC.

November 28, 7-9 PM – FREE workshop on Preventing Identity Theft.  Ridge Meadows College and the Community Literacy Committee are co-hosting a FREE workshop on Preventing Identity Theft presented by Vancity volunteers.  Participants can expect to learn about various theft schemes and how to protect yourself. To register for this informative, hands on workshop call 604.466.6555 x 203, fax: 604.463.5437 or email  This workshop will be held at Riverside Centre, 20575 Thorne Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC.

Click on this link – Financial Literacy Poster RMC – to view the poster for these exciting workshops.


Turn off the TV!

September 27th, 2012

Turn off the TV and your school could win a SMART board.  School District 42 elementary classes are invited to take part in our Literacy Challenge.  Classrooms add up the time they spend on out-of-school literacy activities from October 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013.  The winning class gets a SMART board for their school and pizza and books for their classroom.  Other prizes to be won and lots of fun to be had.

Everything you need to know about the Literacy Challenge is here. Then get registered and get reading!

Check out the Literacy Challenge – Literacy Heroes Poster or email coordinator{at} for more information.