Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Family's Literacy

Photo taken by me of my family on a camping trip in the old Nash Rambler.
The youngsters I talk to in the schools are sometimes surprised when I tell them there was no television in our home when I was growing up. Not that there was no such thing, just that my parents didn't think it was something we needed. I remember when television came to Winnipeg, how my friends and I stood and watched it for the first time through the storefront windows of a shop on Academy Road.

My parents didn't think we needed to be entertained. We were all read to as tots and went on to become avid readers and, in my case, writers. We played board games like "Snakes n' Ladders," "Parcheesi," and later, "Scrabble." There were paper-and-pencil games too, word games like Hang Man or the old party favourite where you tried to make as many small words as you could from one long word like antidisestablishmentarianism. (I can't believe my Canadian dictionary doesn't even recognize the word!)

Ours was a family that sang when we took car trips—between endless games of I Spy. We warbled along to folk songs like "Swanee River" and "Jimmy Crack Corn." And there were the camp songs, because we all went to camp,  like "Down By The Bay" that required each one of us to come up with an original, outrageous chorus to every verse. 

I'm privileged to speak on the occasion of Family Literacy Day at a local school next week. It's always fun to talk to children; I find their enthusiasm contagious. And I hope to share with them some of my personal experiences of family literacy.

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