Family Literacy

In Canada Family Literacy Day is January 27th and in the United States it is on November 1st, but any time is a good time to make reading and writing fun for the family. 

Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.



Besides the children’s alphabet song (“A B C D E F G ....”) I couldn’t think of songs or rhymes related specifically to reading and writing.  If you can think of one please email us at



You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Book coloring pages” or print out my Literacy Colouring Page.



Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook:  What is your favourite book to read?  What book do you like hearing read out loud to you? What do you like to write about?  What type of stories do you like? What new book would you like to read?

 Choose the level of your child:

¨     Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer

¨     Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.

¨     Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.

¨     Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response.  (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)

¨     Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).

¨     As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story.


Print out a Family Literacy Word Search:

Easy Family Literacy Word Search or Difficult Family Literacy Word Search.

Check here for the answer keys:

Easy Family Literacy Word Search Key or Difficult Family Literacy Word Search Key.



Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books on or about reading, writing, books or libraries.


Go to the library with your child to find some books about the library.


Go to the library on your own to find books about libraries to have already on hand for your theme day (search for “Library” under “Children’s Books”).  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject.  Reserve them if you can to save time.


Try to find some of these picture books about going to the library:


· The Best Book to Read, by Debbie Bertram & Susan Bloom and illustrated by Michael Garland, Random house, 2008—With rhyming text this story tells of a class who visits the library and are introduced to numerous types of books (space, insects, dinosaurs etc.) so they can find the best book to read for themselves.


· Book! Book! Book!, by Deborah Bruss and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001—When the farm animals are bored they go to the library but unfortunately the librarian cannot understand them...until the chicken gives it a try.


· The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians, by Carla Morris and illustrated by Brad Sneed, Peachtree , 2007—Three friendly librarians help a boy, Melvin, learn throughout his childhood.


· The Ghost Library, by David Mellings, Barron’s, 2004—A little girl named Bo is whisked away one evening to the empty ghost library when two ghosts try to steal her book.


· Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, Candlewick Press, 2006—This is a cute tale of a lion who wanders in a library and befriends and helps the librarian Mrs. Merriweather. 


· Read It, Don’t Eat it!, by Ian Schoenherr, Greenwillow Books, 2009 – This rhyming book with simple yet fun animal illustrations tells you what to do and not to do with a library book.


For something different try this riddle book:


· ABC Nature Riddles, by Susan Joyce and illustrated by Doug DuBosque, Peel Productions, Inc, 2000 – Using poems and fill in the blanks, each page offers a riddle for the reader to guess what part of nature is being described.





Materials: thick construction paper (any colour), hole punch, yarn, child-safe scissors, markers, stickers.


Step 1: Cut the construction paper into a rectangle for the bookmark.

Step 2: Punch a hole at the top to thread the tassel after decorating.

Step 3: have your child decorate both sides of the paper in any way (drawing with makers or crayons, using stickers etc.).

Step 4: Cut a piece of yarn a longer than you want the tassel to be. 

Step 5: Cut smaller pieces of yarn to be used at the end of the tassel (cut about four pieces). 

Step 6: Fold each piece in half and ground together.  Tie the longer piece of yearn around the folds to keep them together.

Step 7: Tie the other end of the longer piece of yarn through the hole punched at the top of the bookmark.



              PENCIL CUP:

Materials: Clean plastic water bottle with the top cut off OR clean empty tin can (be sure there are no sharp edges) OR plastic cup OR empty clean jar OR empty clean coffee tin, colored paper, child-safe scissors, white glue, things to decorate the cup with (stickers, googly eyes, sequins, markers, clay, felt cut outs, etc.).


Step 1: Take your container (we used a clean empty soup can) and measure the width on a piece of coloured paper (your child’s choice).  Cut out a strip of coloured paper to fit around the cup (larger cans require more paper).

Step 2: Have your child apply white glue to the can or paper and wrap the paper around. 

Step 3: Let the glue dry before proceeding.

Step 4: Let your child decorate the can/cup using whatever craft materials you have on hand (my eldest used clay for the rim, felt cut outs and stickers/ my youngest used felt cut outs and glitter glue).

Step 5: Let the decorations dry (if using glue) and then use it to hold pens and pencils.


DRAWING: Have you child draw a picture of his/her favourite book character.



Look through cookbooks together to find a snack, lunch, dinner, and dessert to make.  Have your child write out the shopping list and read it as well when you do the shopping.



Alphabet Breadsticks:


Ingredients:  Refrigerated dough (either bread stick or pizza dough—we used pizza dough)


Step 1:  Break the dough into pieces and give them to your child/children to shape into letters.

Step 2: Follow directions on the refrigerated dough and cook them on a baking sheet.


              Raisin Writing: Who says you can’t play with your food?


Ingredients: Raisins, graham crackers, peanut butter (use cream cheese if you have children with nut allergies).


Step 1:   Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on the graham crackers.

Step2: Let your children arrange the raisins to form letters or words on the crackers (the peanut butter or cream cheese will make the raisins stick).



Make some Alphabet soup to eat for lunch on this Literacy Theme Day.



Make your favourite pasta sauce and eat it with Alphabet shaped pasta.



Cut-out Cookies:

Ingredients: your favourite cut-out cookie recipe (either sugar cookies or short bread—we used short bread), tubes or gel icing to write with, flour


Step 1: Make your favourite dough (check online for a recipe or in your favourite cookbook) and let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

Step 2: In batches, roll out the dough over flour and let your child use whatever cookie cut-outs you have to stamp the dough into shapes.

Step 3: Bake the cookies.

Step 4: When the cookies are completely cooled (otherwise the icing melts off) give your child a tube of gel icing to write either letters or words.


Cake and Icing:


Bake your favourite cake and with a tube of icing have your child write on it.




Print out my Reading Reward Chart and work towards a reward by reading to your young child (who cannot read) or having your older child read to you.  The level of your child’s reading will determine whether your child needs to read an entire book (good for younger readers who have shorter beginner reader books), an entire chapter (good for older readers who read books with no pictures), or go by time like twenty minutes (good for readers who are moving towards chapter books with pictures or good for when a parent has to read to a young child who cannot read yet).  After each book/chapter/20 minute reading session, have your child colour in a spot on the chart.  When every spot is coloured in give your child a reward like a trip to the bookstore to buy a new book.



Canada’s Family Literacy Day is January 27 – Try this web site for more information:

In the USA Family Literacy Day is Nov. 1st – Try this web site for more information:

Check here for some Family Literacy tips:

Here are some printable worksheets that promote literacy:





Q:  What loves to read and lives in an apple?

A: A bookworm


Q: What is the biggest building in your town?

A: The library because it has the most stories.






Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows based on favourite books (Franklin, Arthur, Olivia, Angelina Ballerina, Max and Ruby) or any focusing on reading and writing.


Try these titles:


· Sesame Street: Bert and Ernie’s Word Play

· Anything in the Leap Frog series like, Leap Frog: Talking Word Factory OR Leap Frog: Learn to Read at the Story Book Factory

· Anything in the Rock N’ Learn series like, Letter Sounds OR Test-Taking Strategies

· Any episode of Between the Lions




Library trip:


Visit your local library and find some books that you’d like to read together and individually or attend a Family Story Time at the library.


If your child is old enough and doesn’t have his/her own library card make that part of the library outing.


Make reading a part of your family routine.

Photo: C Wright


Make your own Bookmarks.

Pencil Cups

Alphabet Breadsticks

Write on your cookies!