BY: KATHY MCDONALD
As I begin to write this article it’s twenty degrees outside and I have just finished picking up my four-year-old, child number four, from school. I was wearing a cotton long sleeved shirt. Does mother nature realize that it’s February? I am so inspired by the unexpected thrill of going for a walk in winter while wearing no coat that I am motivated to read some Anansi stories to my daughter when we reach home.
We ended up reading for over an hour until child number three rings the doorbell. Child number four is so excited about sharing the stories that I had dramatized for her that now child number three grabs a drink of water and gets a book. She is reading books from the Silver Birch reading list. This list consists of a selection of books which may be categorized as fiction or nonfiction. This program is offered in various schools where a teacher has volunteered to coordinate the program that is run in conjunction with the Ontario Library Association. This program is geared towards children in grades three to six. There are a certain amount of books that a student must read and evaluate if they want to participate in the ultimate field trip and have the opportunity to vote for their favourite book to receive the coveted Silver Birch Award.
Child number two who was home sick with a bad cough joins in reading, For My Country, Black Canadians on the Field of Honour. It was marvelous, we were all reading for pleasure and enjoying every minute of it. As we enter March break I challenge everyone to rediscover reading. Encourage your children to read just for the joy of reading. To make this task easier let your child pick a book that excites them. In fact, why not venture out to your neighborhood library and select a few good books. Did you know that the library has many different programs that are offered throughout March break. These programs include a vast range of reading programs geared to all, from newborns, to adolescents, and to teenagers.
For the very young reader, I would suggest board books as they are more sturdy and tend to be more interactive. They may have plans to open, shut, push or pull as well they may have texture, buttons to push and creative activities to engage a child. There are books for all reading levels and books for all hobbies, personalities as well as all genres. The Robert Munsch collection of books are usually well appreciated by the primary reader. For the junior reader, there are copious amounts of new and not so new series, for example, Dog Man, SugarPlum Fairies series, The Magic School Bus, and Treehouse. There are culturally relevant books for a diverse people like those of the African, Black and Caribbean communities.
My suggestion for middle school students is a wide range of graphic novels. I would also strongly recommend: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lessons, A Father’s Life by Jael Richardson. For the high school student I would recommend: A Fugitive in Walden Woods by Norman Lock; Policing Black Lives, State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard and They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery.
If you have a reluctant reader, book selection is very important. Find a book that will captivate their imagination as well as stimulate their senses. You would be surprised how literacy can be improved by reading comics, graphic novels, and other nontraditional reading materials. Make it a family event as various studies have supported the theory that children who see their parents reading often are more likely to be avid readers themselves.
Marley Dias created a list of one thousand books that she felt “improved the identity of black girls and increased the racial consciousness of those unfamiliar with black girls”. This list, 1000 Black Girl Books propelled Ms. Dias to a young celebrity virtually overnight. Last year Forbes magazine listed Marley as one of Forbes top 30 under 30. This is quite an accomplishment for a girl who is not yet in high school. Please note that there is also a list for boys.
In the busyness of the modern family, it’s important to create opportunities of calm, quiet repose. We need to encourage our children to reduce their screen time and increase thoughtful, critical and engaging alternatives. There is still magic, in my opinion, to hold and feel a book. It is easier on my eyes to read a book as opposed to reading off a screen. The glare causes my eyes to ache. I know I may be aging myself but…. we all, if we are fortunate to get older eventually and we should work proactively to preserve our eyes. So, journey with me and rediscover the joys of reading a book. Walk Good! Belle Marché.