Tlicho government challenges youth to read

Tlicho government challenges youth to read
Shantay Smith, a Grade 1 student at Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School in Behchoko, reads a book to record in her Book Passport during class.Photo: Andrea Adams.

A new literacy initiative by the Tlicho Government that is challenging students to read as many books as possible has been embraced by teachers and students alike.

Called the Book Passport Reading Challenge, students in all five schools in the Tlicho region have received a book passport to record titles, authors and signatures from their teachers. The students with the most books read receive prizes.

Andrea Adams, a teacher at Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary School in Behchoko, said it’s exciting to see the unique ways teachers are encouraging their students to complete the challenge.

“One of the best parts that I like about it is each class is doing it in a different way depending on the teaching style,” she said. Some teachers have incorporated the passports into independent reading blocks during class, some are reading books together and some are given the passports to take home.

The students seem to be excited by the challenge, which started on Jan. 27 and runs until Feb. 28, and are happily filling out the passports with each new book they tackle, Adams said.

“They’re smiling as they fill it out,” she said.

The book passports are an initiative of the Tlicho Government and feature the Tlicho flag on the front and back cover. The inside pages have pictures of beadwork and other cultural images throughout, which is helping students identify with the material, Adams said.

“It’s not something that you would pick up at a store or through a school catalog,” she said. “It’s really unique and relatable.”

While literacy initiatives are not new to the Tlicho schools, Adams said it’s nice to see both the community and the government encouraging literacy.

“It’s a way of tracking their progress and it’s a different way that’s not coming from the teachers, so that’s kind of nice, too,” she said.

The challenge is hopefully another way of getting students interested in reading and, through that, gaining literacy skills, Adams said, which translate into all areas of learning.

“They’ll be more confident in their learning so they’ll attend school,” she said.

Giselle Marion organized the book passport reading challenge on behalf of the Tlicho Government and said while she can’t speak for the government, it’s widely know that literacy is an important part of everyday life.

“Whether it is in English or in Tlicho, literacy is a necessary tool for development. Promoting and supporting literacy increases awareness, educates and provides the skills necessary for a child to flourish in school,” she said.

The book passports have room for 36 books to be recorded, but it’s not likely a student will be turned away if they run out of room and ask for another one. With a month to read and unlimited access to their school’s libraries, there’s no limit on the young bookworms.

Winners of the passport challenge will be announced on Mar. 1 during the Tlicho Government’s Aboriginal language awareness month launch event.

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