Creative Ideas to Celebrate Literacy and Nurture a Love for Reading
By Jennifer Hendry, MHS Learning Resource Specialist
As a librarian, I celebrate literacy every day. I understand the importance of helping our school community embrace literacy and lifelong learning. I see myself as a “Literacy Cheerleader” and take my responsibility very seriously in the Eleanor King Learning Resource Center (LRC), the Milton Hershey School Senior Division library.
September is National Literacy Month. It is a time to reflect on what we are all doing to promote literacy in our communities, families, and workplaces. It sounds like a monumental task, but it only takes a few small steps to encourage everyone to get involved.
In the LRC, we understand the importance of making the space attractive to students. Whether they are coming to study after school or attending a meeting, they are surrounded by literature and opportunities. Our space allows for seating of over 100 people with classrooms, booths, collaboration areas, and comfortable seating. This helps us bring students, teachers, and houseparents in to use the space and enjoy our resources.
Embracing diversity with our book collection and displays helps every student feel welcome here. If people see themselves in books, they are more likely to feel accepted and to read. This is something that librarians all over the world understand and practice. It’s important to understand this as we all work to be more understanding of diverse groups.
Building literacy is social. MHS students visit the LRC to attend our activities and clubs. We host the Manga/Anime club, the Writing Club, a book club called “Booknerdigans,” and a Thriller Club – all these clubs are set up and run by our students, so that they can learn more about leading and management while they create a student-friendly club.
Literacy doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply put, literacy is the ability to read and write. Encouraging reading and writing is something anyone can do.
Tips to Create a “Literacy Space” in Your Home or Office:
- Make the area organized and inviting.
- Include books and writing materials.
- Make sure you have books that represent diverse voices—people need to see themselves in books.
- Add color and Zen-like features—literacy can be relaxing and empowering, so the space should be that way too.
- Comfortable seating is always a plus.
Tips to Weave Literacy Activities into Your Life:
- Set a time for reading or writing every day—use your phone alarm as a reminder.
- Visit your local library (bring a friend or family member).
- Ask friends what they are reading—non-readers may be uncomfortable, so remind them that even reading their screens is reading.
- Read with a friend, family member, or pet.
- Practice journaling—it doesn’t matter what you write, just write every day.
- Take a course or read to learn a new skill or hobby. Here are some ideas:
- Look for inexpensive or free online or community courses on language – maybe it’s time to learn a new language as part of your literacy goal.
- Try that new hobby you’ve been dreaming about – ask your librarian or do some online searching for the right article, book or video.
- Organizations, colleges, and universities are offering free online courses.
- Get certified or get a degree – improve your career marketability with literacy.
Be a “literacy cheerleader” for the people in your life. Ask your children what they are reading. Write a family story. Get involved in National Literacy Month. Not only will you be more literate, but you will connect with others on a different level.