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Family Literacy Carnival

On Sunday, January 25, the annual Family Literacy Day Carnival took place at MacEwan University with an afternoon full of activities and amusement.

“We feel the best way to learn is by having fun,” said Amanda Riley, Co-Chair of the Carnival planning committee. And fun was certainly what the families had as they listened to stories read by CBC Radio Active host Portia Clark, CTV weatherman Josh Classen, and MacEwan President David Atkinson.

Students from Golden Key International Society at MacEwan did an outstanding job creating activities that linked literacy to science, music, aboriginal culture, math, health, and play. Families learned how to make elephant toothpaste and the children created their own teepees and musical shakers.

And when they were ready to head home, they got to take a free children’s book of their own.


Book Clubs: Building a Learning Community

Four years ago, some of our learners had the opportunity to meet the author of a book they had read. Following this inspiring experience, they expressed an interest in meeting regularly to enjoy sharing more books together. Our first Book Club was born.

The Centre now offers Book Clubs in three Edmonton locations. The groups are facilitated by volunteers who are passionate about sharing their love of reading and providing learning opportunities for adult learners.

The learners in the Book Club gather each week to enjoy a book in an inclusive and safe learning environment, while also improving their literacy skills. Though the primary purpose is to develop participants’ language, reading, and writing abilities, the Book Clubs also foster new knowledge, reflection, critical thinking, and a sense of community.

Every Book Club is unique, and the facilitators tailor the learning experience to the needs of the group. One group enjoys beginning with breathing and stretching exercises, which help to calm and focus their mind before reading and discussion. They enjoy reading works of fiction together, particularly mysteries such as The Goddaughter by Melody Campbell.

Another group—comprised mainly of professionals learning English—enjoys selecting inspirational books that motivate personal growth. Books such as Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson provide a platform for learners to share their struggles and successes.

At the same time, all of our Book Clubs share common practices and values grounded in the principles of adult learning:

  • a non-threatening environment of mutual trust and respect, where learners feel safe to make mistakes and to share opinions without being judged
  • an opportunity to freely express themselves —orally and in writing—and learn about each other’s personal experiences
  • a chance to read relevant books that appeal to the interest and reading levels of the participants
  • an opportunity for each person to read aloud and develop skills to help them reach their specific learning goals

Our learners report many benefits to being part of a Book Club. They develop a growing comfort with reading aloud and on their own. They also develop confidence and improve skills in writing, comprehension, vocabulary, critical thinking and self-expression. Last but not least, learners cultivate new friendships and experience true community and support for one another.

These benefits are well summed up by Denise, a long-time Book Club member who said,

"I feel like a completely different person. I'm
now passionate about reading. I can now
read anything I pick up and can write my own stories."


Alberta's Literacy Landscape

A new collaborative approach has grown provincially in the last few years as the field has worked to weave together the multiple supports provided to the literacy community. The Centre for Family Literacy is thrilled to be working with Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education and Community Learning Network to reshape how literacy practitioners across the province receive the training and support they need to aid adult learners.

The new proposed provincial framework consists of:

  • an information portal
  • one regional support network
  • two training components and
  • a governance advisory committee

The training components consist of two five-day trainings that will be offered in the spring at the Family Literacy Training Institute and in the fall at the Literacy and Learning Symposium. These opportunities will allow current and new practitioners two yearly opportunities to take the training they need to improve their skills and knowledge.

One provincial regional network of five experts will provide easy access to information and customized supports outside of the two annual spring and fall offerings. The information portal will be the one-stop place to find everything practitioners need to know. It will have dates and registration information for trainings, contact information for all regional experts, an opportunity to interact and share knowledge with other practitioners, online resources and courses, and much more.

Community Learning Network and Centre for Family Literacy continue to work at combining the present support programs into one cohesive system and have taken on the challenge of merging our knowledge, skills and expertise to implement the proposed provincial framework for the Community Adult Learning Program community. Together we are dedicated to adapting the system to serve the learning needs of adults and families in Alberta.


Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Lois Hole Memorial Literacy Awards. The awards were presented by Jim Hole, representing the Hole family, and Jonna Grad, ED of the Centre for Family Literacy, at the Centre’s annual Leading with Literacy Breakfast.

To read more about each of the winners, please go to www.famlit.ca/events/2015_winner_info.pdf
Adult Learner:
Jennifer Butt
Family Learner:
Kerri Kelly
Community Leadership:
Ron Beattie representing Old Strathcona Harley Owners Group

Every Day is a Chance to Learn

The Centre’s information brochure that outlines all of our programs, trainings and resources is entitled “It’s never too early, it’s never too late!” In keeping with that sentiment, we are offering a number of workshops that we hope will provide you with some new learning opportunities.

Sue Nunn will present the first workshop on building a Contingency Notebook. A contingency notebook is a binder containing all the information a loved one or personal representative will need to know should you become seriously incapacitated or even die.

Sue will lead you through the process of creating your own Contingency Notebook by sharing stories of how she did this with her grandmothers and how having these notebooks helped her respect their wishes.

Workshop Information:


Thursday, May 7

10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Centre for Family Literacy
11642 142 St, Edmonton

* Please bring a three-hole binder and 12 dividers.

Coffee and refreshments will be provided by the Centre.

Please register by contacting the Centre at 421-7323 or emailing info@famlit.ca putting Contingency Notebook in the subject line.