Belmont University’s 17th annual Family Literacy Day on Saturday, April 8 brought 155 student volunteers to E.S. Rose Park to read with local children. Representing various student organizations including the English Club, STEA (Student Tennessee Education Association), CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls), Alpha Gamma Delta, Psychology Club and Belmont Volunteers for Literacy, students hosted reading circles, each with their own theme and book options.
The purpose of Family Literacy Day is to foster and celebrate a love for reading in children ranging from pre-kindergarten through the 6th grade. This year, there were 79 community members registered in total.
In addition to the reading circles, which are the primary focus of the event, the day included face-painting, games, crafts and refreshments. The event also included a Book Walk organized by retired teachers from the Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority—Beta Chapter, Nashville Public Library’s Digital Literacy Program, the Book’em Literacy Program, the Nashville Adult Literacy Counsel and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The winners of the 8th Annual Poetry Contest, which invites elementary school children from Metro Nashville Public Schools to write a poem based on an annual theme relating to their favorite books, were also announced at Family Literacy Day. This year’s theme was “Favorite Animal,” and students submitted poetry written about an animal in a book they’ve read. After being reviewed by the English Club, the poets of the top five poems were invited to come to Belmont and work with professional songwriters to set their poems to music. The songs were then made available online for a round of public voting to pick the winners.
Director of Service-Learning Tim Stewart, who was in charge of organizing Family Literacy Day, said, “One of the most rewarding things [about this event] is receiving encouraging feedback from participants, like this immigrant father who took time to send me an e-mail after they had participated. He said ‘This is the first time we [have] participated in an activity of this kind. It has lively and meaningful activities. It is the enormous contribution from your team that makes it a success. It definitely will make a significant event and good memory to these kids in early ages.’ It’s feedback like this that makes it all worthwhile.”
Family Literacy Day is designed to serve as a celebration of the year’s service activities, giving the children and student participants of the ongoing programs a chance to have fun and reflect on their accomplishments. It also serves as a way of encouraging additional Belmont students, faculty and staff to get involved in the literacy effort in our community, and it provides a way for Belmont to give back in a small way to the community of which it is a part and from whom it receives so much.