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Setting Literacy-Rich Family Resolutions in 2021

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Many people make individual fitness or diet resolutions at the beginning of the year. But what if we thought about new year’s resolutions as a family event? Even better, what if we thought about family resolutions from a literacy perspective? Less about miles run or calories counted on your own. And more about pages read, letters written, literacy practices enjoyed. Together. As a family.

In this post, I share ten literacy-rich resolutions in which families can engage.

Set reading and writing goals for the new year. Setting reading and writing goals for the new year can be an important start to reading and writing more as a family. You can certainly just discuss these goals, but writing them down and keeping them visible might help everyone stay on track. Personally, I want to read more poetry in the new year. What are your family’s goals?

Decide on one book that everyone will read. Even though my husband and I read a lot, we rarely read the same book. There are so many times when I wish he had read a book I just finished so that we could talk about it together. One way around this dilemma is to pick a book that everyone will read and then discuss. Titles will, of course, have to be selected based on the ages in your household, and there may have to be a few “common reads” going on at the same time. The key is that readers have others with whom to discuss their books.

Write a snail mail letter - yes, a real letter with a stamp. Let your child help you decide on just the person. Invite your child to draw a picture or write a few words before you add a message. I have already purchased our Valentine’s Day cards, and I love to make a big deal of writing in them with my little boy - and an even bigger deal of putting them in the mailbox! Helping children find ways to engage in authentic literacy practices helps them see that reading and writing are not just activities for school.

Read a book in a different format than you normally would. I generally like print books. There is just something about holding them (and smelling them) that I love. Recently, however, I read a book on my public library’s website. It was challenging, but it was a good exercise for me to see how different formats alter the reading experience. With a little experimenting, you might find a way to enjoy a book in a way you never thought possible. If you do not know where to start, Storyline Online is a wonderful website that brings stories alive for kids.

Try out a book that is unlike books you usually pick up. Think about the reading preferences of your family members. Encourage everyone to read a book that they normally would not be drawn to. When you go to the library or bookstore with your child, make sure to expose them to books that would normally not come home. This can be really helpful for facilitating different perspectives - and can lead to newfound interests.

Model your literacy practices. You are the best literacy model for your children. Make sure your children see you reading and writing. Do not read or write only when your children are sleeping. Find time to show them that you value reading and writing. And encourage them to join you!

Keep a list of all the reading and writing each member of the family does in a day. Select a day on which to keep a running list of all of the reading and writing each family member does. This activity helps children see that reading and writing are always happening. For example, you might read recipes to make breakfast, write checks to pay the bills, text friends and family members, and compose an email to a coworker. Adding these events to the list helps children see that reading and writing have a real purpose in life. Depending on the age of your children, you can have them tell you what they did or add it to the list themselves. Whereas younger children may read picture books and draw a picture for Mommy, older children may text their friends or read an article on a sports website.

Read a book review and then check out the book. Book reviews are great places to be introduced to new titles. Kirkus and School Library Journal are great resources to find your next books.

Read the book and then see the movie. Movie nights are such a great family event. Make it an even better event by reading a book and then watching the movie. One book that a lot of my students have been talking about is Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. The movie came out in August.

Create a family gratitude journal. Each Thursday my students and I share for what we are grateful. It is a wonderful way to start the day, and we all look forward to it. You can start a family journal in which anyone can draw or write about for what they are grateful. You may have to dictate younger children’s ideas. Not only is this a wonderful mindfulness activity and a way to encourage writing throughout the year but it will remain as a keepsake for 2021.

I am truly hopeful that you will find ways to make literacy-rich resolutions with your family! Please share your family resolutions with me!

[Photo from Unsplash. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder.]

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