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Marking the 20th milestone of Family Literacy Day

Families flocked to Conestoga Mall for the interactive activities and live music in celebration of Family Literacy Day on Sunday. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

You may not have jotted it down in your calendar, but January 27 was the 20th anniversary of Family Literacy Day, which in the region was marked by displays and activities at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo. Among those taking part were representatives of the Region of Waterloo Library.

This year’s theme is “Take 20,” encouraging the public to dedicate 20 minutes of their day towards creative and literacy activities with their families. ABC Life Literacy Canada executive director Mack Rogers says he hopes it has a lasting effect, a habit that families can practice daily.

“What we really hope to do is inspire people with those first January 27th Take 20 Challenge,” said Rogers. “And make those 20 minutes part of your day, every day after that as well. So always try to find those 20 minutes to play and learn and have fun with your family.”

Featured at the Conestoga Mall event were informative booths, children’s books such as Curious George, colouring books, and interactive events. ABC Literacy suggested 20 different ways to spend that 20 minutes, everything from making a grocery list to drawing a map of your local neighbourhood.

The activities expand beyond reading and writing, with other examples being drawing, singing, baking, and board games. The goal is to improve literacy skills and bond as a family.

“We always try to give a variety, because everybody likes to do different things,” said Rogers. “So it’s really just about finding what activities and fun works for you, and then carving out those 20 minutes to enjoy it.”

More than 100 Family Literacy Day events were hosted in Canada, with some 20 taking place in Ontario. Rogers said there is a wide variety to the way each area celebrates Family Literacy Day.

“They can really range – that’s the cool thing about them. We see everything from big, loud events – we’ve done events at the Ontario Science Centre with hundreds of kids and families with amazing authors reading – and we’ve also seen these really quiet, focused art pieces come out of this type of work.”

Contributing 20 Family Literacy Day-themed Plasticine illustrations to go with the anniversary year was award-winning Canadian author and artist Barbara Reid, who is also honourary chair of the event.

“It is no secret that families that learn together, grow together,” said Reid in a statement. “There are many free learning resources available at home and throughout local communities. A little imagination can go a long way.”

ABC Life Literacy Canada is a charity organization that aims to inspire Canadians to improve their literacy and essential skills. More information is available online.

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