Host a Literacy Tent in 5 Easy Steps

Valois- Dorval District organized a reading tent over March Break and read to 32 visitors! Literacy Agent, Esther Szeben has the low down on how to make this a successful PR event for your district while earning the Words in Action crest.

What you will need:

Camping tent, a colorful rug, stuffed animals, craft materials, stringed lights, Free Meeting cards, a clip board, pen and paper, a flashlight, GGC swag (bookmarks, tattoos, stickers)

  1. Partner with a community organization. We asked the Dorval Library if we could animate a reading tent one morning during March Break. They were happy to offer us some space in the children’s section and the librarians preselected the English and French books for the girls to read. They even gave the girls an informative summary of what qualities to look for when selecting story time books for a group.
  2. Advertise. Use social media, posters, and word of mouth. We invited local preschools and daycares as the library story time shares the same goals as the NSP of promoting literacy.
  3. Arrive early. The library opens to the public at 10 but we arranged to set up at 9:30 giving ample time. A colorful rug and some stuffed animals make the tent inviting. White tree lights were strung on top of the tent to give the effect of reading/camping under the stars. A flashlight helps shed light on the pages for the readers and gives the guests a simulated camping experience!
  4. Enlist girls from all levels to help. Sparks helped distribute “marketing material” i.e. GGC meeting cards and GGC book marks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders read out loud and assisted with the craft. Give a girl a clip board and ask her to approach all the guests to take “statistics” or register children for the activity. We used a simple tally system of check marks and gave each guest a sticker. Have enough Guiders to ensure Safe Guide standards and to support the girls as they lead this activity. Ask the girls how they want to help and assign roles to girls within their comfort level and ability. Rotate as much as possible to give everyone a chance to read. Anticipate that some guests don’t want to read in the tent. Our girls spread out in the kids section and read one-on-one with guests.
  5. Prepare as much of the craft in advance. Bring supplies from your unit and precut anything to make the craft easy for little hands. We stuck to the literacy theme and combined the novelty of camping and owls to the bookmarks that the children made with the help of our girls.

Log your activities on the NSP website. We invited some girls from the North Shore district. Their Guiders will enter their girls’ numbers in the NSP database, not to be duplicated with the hosting districts numbers.

Words in Action is running until August 2016 so there are many opportunities your district may want to consider: National volunteer week, St Jean Baptist or Canada Day celebrations at a community park. Is your town hosting a soccer tournament?  Summer day camps, Library summer programs, Freedom to Read Week, TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and Family Literacy Day.  The possibilities are endless. But it takes time, so best to start planning well in advance.

Esther Szeben is one of the Québec Literacy Agents for the Words in Action NSP. You can contact her at words.mots.nspqc@gmail.com.

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