Open the page to literacy opportunities

The Bulkley Valley’s third annual celebrated Literacy Awareness Month begins tomorrow, Jan. 27, with a whole bunch of activities, the first in a month-long celebration of knowledge.

The Bulkley Valley’s third annual celebrated Literacy Awareness Month begins tomorrow, Jan. 27, with a whole bunch of activities, the first in a month-long celebration of knowledge.

This year’s theme is ‘play for literacy’, said Smithers Community Services’ literacy outreach coordinator Elke Pesch.

As part of the month-long plan of activities, which continues through February, literacy events will be tied into the town’s Spirit of the Mountain Festival.

Starting on Jan. 27 is the beginning of Get Caught Reading Contest and a poetry writing contest.

Also that day, at 10 a.m., is Mother Goose at the Smithers Library for those aged zero to 36 months, and Mother Moose will be at the Telkwa Reading Room for pre-school aged children.

The Smithers library is holding PJ Story Time at the Smithers library for children at 6:30 p.m.

All of the events are designed to incorporate the skills of literacy.

“It used to be that we thought of literacy as illiteracy, rather if you could read or not read, but that’s not really what it is,” said Pesch. “Literacy is about being somewhere on the lifelong learning continuum.”

Rather than simply being just reading skills, Literacy BC notes nine skills which encompass literacy.

Those additional skills are document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, continuous learning, thinking skills and computer use.

What is important to maintain literacy is that you never stop practicing existing or new skills.

“If you don’t read, or play the guitar for a long time, you lose it,” she said.

Two organizations, Literacy BC and ABC Canada, are each focusing on essential skills and lifelong learning, respectively.

In Smithers the focus is to be inclusive of all age groups, rather than focus on school aged children.

The most recent provincial statistics on literacy in B.C. show that 14 per cent (400,000) are at Level 1, which is the lowest proficiency level.

There are 600,000, or 21 per cent, at Level 2, which is defined as still inadequate for full participation and success in modern society, according to information from Literacy BC.

“On a good note, B.C. overall performs better than the national average,” said Pesch.

She said statistics specific to the Bulkley Valley do not exist.

There are things people can do year-round to maintain their literacy, she said, which includes taking a course or workshop, seeing a public speaker at the library, and of course, reading the newspaper.

For a full schedule of Literacy Month events, check out the library or see the window display at Speedee Interior Stationery & Books.