Ten Things You Can Do to Support Literacy in Your Community

The PEI Literacy Alliance recently joined many literacy organizations and formed the Literacy Champions Network. The Network is a coalition of provincial and territorial literacy organizations that work together to promote the importance of literacy across Canada. We share a vision where everyone has the basic skills they need to succeed.

  1. Follow us on Social Media.

Follow the organizations that make up the Literacy Champions Network on social media. Like and share their pages. Together, we can amplify the message of literacy and make a meaningful impact in promoting literacy for all. From September 1 to 8, each organization celebrates International Literacy Day on social media.

#LiteracyChampionsNetwork #LiteracyDay #InternationalLiteracyDay2023 #Literacy #LiteracyMatters #LiteracyConnects #LiteracyEmpowers #LiteracyOpensDoors #LiteracyForAll 

  1. Donate to Literacy Charities

Consider making financial contributions to literacy-focused nonprofits, community centres or schools. Your donations can help provide books, educational resources, and support literacy programs. You can support CanLearn here.

  1. Advocate for Literacy Policies and Funding

Raise awareness about the importance of literacy by sharing information on social media, organizing community discussions, or writing to local representatives to advocate for increased support and funding for literacy initiatives. Check out the Left Unread campaign that advocates for early literacy in Alberta.

  1. Read with Your Children or Other Family Members

Reading for fun can benefit children and adults by improving imagination, focus, and relaxation. You can encourage a love of reading by sharing books with your children or relatives. You can also join a family literacy program or a book club to connect with other readers.

  1. Start a Book Drive

Organize a book drive in your community to collect new or gently used books. Donate these books to local schools, libraries, or literacy organizations to ensure they reach those who need them.

  1. Celebrate Literacy Events

You can join local, national and international literacy celebrations by participating in events and initiatives promoting lifelong learning.

  •  Family Literacy Day on January 27
  • World Book Day on April 23
  • Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21
  • International Literacy Day on September 8
  • Canadian Library Month in October

Join us at our free CanLearn Open House on September 7, 2023, at the CanLearn office. RSVP here.

  1. Support Local Authors and Publishers

You can support Canadian literature by buying, reading, reviewing, and sharing books by local authors and publishers. You can also attend book launches, readings or festivals that showcase Canadian talent and diversity. WordFest is happening in Calgary on October 11 – 15, 2023.

  1. Create Literacy-Friendly Environments

You can make your home, workplace, or community more encouraging to literacy and learning by providing access to books, magazines, newspapers, or other educational materials. You can also help create spaces where people can read, write, and discuss ideas comfortably and without distractions. 

  1. Promote Community Literacy

Acknowledge and support the unique literacy needs of Canada’s diverse cultural communities. Discover authors, storytellers, and literacy programs dedicated to sharing and preserving our communities’ languages and cultures.

  1. Recognize and Appreciate Literacy Champions

You can acknowledge and appreciate the people who have made a difference in your literacy journey or the lives of others. You can thank them personally, write them a note, give them a gift or nominate them for an award. You can also celebrate their successes and support their efforts.

Each contribution, no matter how small or large, becomes a vital thread in the tapestry of a more literate and inclusive world. Even the smallest action can significantly impact someone’s life. 

Together, we can champion literacy and empower individuals from all backgrounds to unlock the transformative power of lifelong learning.

Back to School, Parents and Reading

CanLearn Literacy Programs

September brings many new things: cooler weather, shorter days, changing leaves… and returning to school. For some families with young children, the start of a new school year is exciting. For others, it can be a time of worry and anxiety. For many, it is both.

Returning to school is always a time when parents think about how to support their children’s reading development best. Parents need to talk with children about what they look forward to learning in the new school year and what worries them. Reading books together offers a perfect springboard to discuss these feelings. Here are five suggestions for back-to-school books to read aloud with young children.

  1. How to Get Your Octopus to School

Just like many children, Octopus is nervous about going to school. He would rather stay home and play, so he finds clever hiding places. This book is full of imagination, humour, and heart. The story and illustrations give children a chance to talk about a time they did not want to do something and include details about what they did to avoid it and why. *

  1. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School

This book is a great discussion starter as it addresses many of the fears and anxieties young children feel as they prepare to go to school for the first time. Pigeon is a great character that almost all children can relate to. This excellent book from Mo Willem’s series captures children’s interest and sense of humour while conveying a message. *

  1. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

Children love this hilarious story about little Penelope Rex, who is nervous about going to school for the first time. It will inspire them to share some of the questions they wonder about before starting school. *

  1. Tomorrow I’ll be Kind

This uplifting and positive story encourages children to think about the most important things about being a good friend. The artwork in the book is beautiful and full of images that can prompt further discussion between parents and children. The story encourages children to promise they’ll be grateful, helpful, and kind.

  1. The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer

When the teacher asks the main character what he did over the summer break, he tells a tale full of daring adventures and mischievous characters. But is it all true? This is a great book to spark back-to-school storytelling and writing. Parents and children could create a comic strip of what they did (or didn’t do?) over the summer. *

Reading aloud with young children boosts their language abilities and prepares them to learn to read (break the code) and love it.

The picture book How to Read a Story illustrates the process of becoming a reader: pulling a book off the shelf and finding someone to share a story, reading aloud, predicting what will happen, and, finally, coming to The End. This story is perfect for helping children and parents understand what reading and enjoying a book looks like.  

Literacy Champions Network Origin Story

The Literacy Champions Network emerged as a result of the strong relationships and shared passion among the twelve literacy organizations that were previously affiliated with The Peter Gzowski Foundation for Literacy (PGFL). The foundation itself was established in 2002 following the death of Peter Gzowski, the renowned host of CBC Radio’s Morningside, who had been deeply committed to raising funds and awareness for literacy in Canada.

Peter Gzowski’s dedication to literacy began in the late 1980s when he set a goal to raise $1 million for literacy initiatives across the country. This goal led to the creation of the Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournaments for Literacy in 1986. These tournaments became a platform for raising funds and promoting literacy while also bringing together literacy representatives from different regions to exchange best practices and expertise at an annual training forum.

Over the next four decades, the Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) Golf Tournaments for Literacy spread across every province and territory in Canada. The collective efforts of these tournaments raised more than $13 million by 2018, contributing significantly to literacy programs and initiatives nationwide.

As time went on, the affiliated partners involved in the PGI Golf Tournaments for Literacy expanded their fundraising efforts beyond golf tournaments. They diversified their activities to include various events and campaigns tailored to their local communities, all with the goal of supporting literacy programming and raising awareness.

In 2022, the Peter Gzowski Foundation for Literacy made the decision to transition from supporting fundraising events to providing grants to literacy organizations. As a result, the foundation concluded its formal relationship with the affiliated partners. However, the relationships created over the years among the provincial and territorial literacy organizations remained strong and valuable.

Recognizing the enduring connections and collaborative spirit forged through the support of the PGFL foundation and the invaluable work it accomplished, in 2023, literacy organizations from across the country came together as the Literacy Champions Network. They realized the power of their collective efforts and the potential to continue supporting literacy programming within their respective communities. With a shared commitment to improving literacy rates and advocating for increased literacy supports, the Literacy Champions collaborate on initiatives, share resources, and leverage their collective expertise to make a lasting impact in promoting literacy from coast to coast to coast.

Today, the Literacy Champions Network stands as a united force, working diligently to address the literacy challenges faced by their communities. They honour the legacy of Peter Gzowski and the accomplishments of the PGI Golf Tournaments for Literacy while adapting to new approaches and strategies to advance their common goal of fostering literacy skills and opportunities for all Canadians.

Summer Days: Building Rhythm and Routine for Kids with ADHD

School’s out, and it’s summer! The kids are excited, teachers are relieved, and parents are starting to feel a familiar knot in the pit of their stomachs about the change of routine for their kids in summer – especially parents dealing with ADHD kids. Somewhere out there, there are parents who are thinking, “Now what? What do I do with my energetic, mile-a-minute, often scattered kid, all day, every day for the next ten weeks?”

It can seem overwhelming and often daunting. But know you are not alone! I have been listening to parents echo these comments for the past month.

There is good news! Let’s look at how you can pay attention to your kids’ natural rhythm and routine to relieve some stress.

Summer Rhythm and Routine with Kids

The school year often goes more smoothly than summer because of a consistent and predictable daily routine. This routine helps your child regulate and makes your days more peaceful.

Summer’s daily rhythm and routine with kids doesn’t have to include attending a structured camp or program. You can create this rhythm at home. Build a routine that includes regular wake-up times, sequence of activities, eating, bathing and sleeping times. You might want to set goals such as developing a new skill, like coding.

Most kids with ADHD do not cope well with changes in established routines and expectations, so work together with them to build and establish a daily or weekly rhythm as quickly as possible. The sooner you do this, the better it is likely to go.


Consider your child’s natural biorhythms in creating your daily or weekly rhythm. Children with ADHD often follow a typical pattern of alertness and ability to focus. Alertness throughout the day might come in the following way:

  • A long period when they are alert could run from mid-morning to early afternoon.
  • A second but lower period of alertness could come in the evening after the dinner hour.
  • Other periods of the day can be “low alert” periods. Consider these times when creating a schedule.
  • Bigger kids can be more opinionated, so allow for flexibility with them and give them the opportunity to plan out their summer.

What would a day that considers natural rhythm and routine with kids would look?

  • A brief “start-up” time in the mornings (especially if your child takes ADHD meds) might include breakfast and reading an age-appropriate magazine or puzzle book.
  • Next, schedule activities such as chores or tutoring. The Premack principle suggests using this period of high alertness to tackle chores, tutoring, or other less desirable tasks before the fun and exciting activities. You can use a checklist to help them track their accomplishments.
  • In the later morning, plan for engaging in mind and body play such as a bike ride, going to the park or zoo, nature hikes, going to the beach, making sandcastles or sculptures, swimming, or play dates. You can develop themes for each week. This might also be a good time to host group get-togethers.
  • Rest time can follow as your child hits a natural lull in their day. Create a “boredom bin” for this downtime. Make activity cards for your child to choose from during downtime. Your child can choose to entertain themselves by using the activities on the card or thinking of alternate choices. The bin or cards help to build initiation and perseverance skills while helping to keep you from being a constant cruise director.
  • Late afternoons or early evenings are good for any activity requiring minimal persistence or high natural interest. Movie time, screen time, or video games. Save these activities for after rest time.
  • After dinner is great for non-competitive games, walks outside, star gazing or storytelling. Your child might be at a creative peak but has minimal attention, so keep this in mind when devising activities and setting expectations.
  • Remember that evening is NOT a good time to schedule a dinner party of mostly adults, and expect your ADHD child to sit quietly and behave at a table.
  • Do plan for a screen-free hour before bedtime to allow your child to wind down from the day, read or be read to, and then head to bed. Bedtime routines are important, so ensure you have a visual routine up when they can see it.

Do I hear any sighs of relief? Maybe summer vacation might not be so bad after all! Creating a summer routine with kids takes a little planning and forethought. Keep it visible so everyone can see what is happening and when. You can use a whiteboard or a calendar.

If it still seems daunting, take another deep breath. Find a friend or get an ADHD Coach to help you take the information here and plan out your summer. Remember that the time spent planning will reduce your stress and help set you and your children up for a successful and enjoyable summer.

Laura Godfrey, Certified ADHD Life Coach

Parents Helping Their Children Learn to Read

Early literacy programs at CanLearn aim to help parents understand what children need to learn to read. The better parents understand the reading process, the more they want to be involved in their children’s early literacy development. Parent involvement can be vital to a child’s success with and enjoyment of reading.

To learn to read, children need:

  • Oral Language – speaking and listening skills.
  • Phonological Awareness – hearing words and sounds in words.
  • Decoding Skills – understanding the letter-to-sound code.
  • Comprehension Skills – knowledge about the world and understanding vocabulary and context.
  • Interesting Books – books they enjoy reading.

Parents can support their children’s oral language development by:

  • Taking time to talk with their child.
  • Limiting screen time.
  • Encouraging imaginary play.
  • Sharing stories, songs, and rhymes on different topics.

Parents can support their children’s phonological awareness development by helping their children:

  • Become aware of rhyming words. (Do “cat” and “hat” rhyme?)
  • Say rhyming words. (What rhymes with “cat”?)
  • Clap or tap syllables into words. (“ti-ger” – two syllables)
  • Say short words in parts – the first sound and the rest of the word. (c-at)
  • Hear and identify all the sounds in short words. (What sounds do you hear in the word “cat”?)
  • Blend all the sounds in short words. (“c-a-t” – What word did I say?)
  • Check to see if the word makes sense.

We want parents to know that when they read with their children at home, these are some things they can do if their child gets stuck on a word:

  • Say each sound.
  • Blend the sounds and read the word.
  • Break the word apart.

We also want parents to know what children should NOT do when they are stuck on a word:

  • Look at the picture.
  • Use only the first letter.
  • Guess what the word might be.

These reading science-based strategies will support children’s decoding skills and help them set up for future reading success.

Having conversations when reading with children is a powerful way to support the development of reading comprehension skills. While reading books together, parents can:

  • Talk about the story’s content.
  • Ask the child to apply the book’s content to the world by connecting events to their own life.
  • Ask more complex questions so the child continues to build their vocabulary, language skills, and knowledge about the world.

Last but not least – parents’ most important mission is to foster the love of reading in their children. When parents pay attention to what their children are interested in and what they like to play with and talk about, they can find books that are just right for their children.

To learn more about literacy programs at CanLearn, visit our Literacy Programs page.
Nada Jerkovic
Manager, Literacy Programs