Brandy Twist and her two young sons settle down on the couch and she starts reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to them.Nothing unusual there. After all, the book is a children’s rhyming classic. But Twist, 29, was never a good reader. In fact, she had never read a full book until recently.
“I finished Grade 10 but got married young and had two kids, and reading just wasn’t something I did,” she said. “I’m from Missouri but moved to Kelowna as a single mom, so I need to finish high school to get a good job and inspire the boys to love reading too.”
Her sons, Michael, 7, and Hunter, 3, are totally on board. “Both of them love to be read to, and Michael loves to read too,” said Twist. “I help him every night with his homework, and we do that online stuff where a book is read to you and then you read it yourself and then do a quiz to check you comprehend.”
Twist has arrived at this point with the help of Project Literacy Kelowna. She works three days a week at a horse barn and gets one-on-one tutouring at Project Literacy two days a week.
And she reads every day, setting a good example for her boys. “I’d say I’m getting to be a moderate reader now — about Grade 7 level,” she said. “I have trouble with difficult words, but I’m learning every day.” Twist is also taking Grade 11 courses in her quest to get a high-school diploma. “Brandy really is making a wonderful transformation,” said Project Literacy education co-ordinator Bonnie Girouard. “She’s finding joy in reading and she’s sharing that with her kids.”
Project Literacy primarily helps adults learn to read and improve literacy and numeracy skills so they can get a high-school diploma, find a job, upgrade their job or simply to feel better. “The key is regular practice, making time for reading and enjoying it,” said Girouard. “If people find reading a chore, they will let it slip.”
Twist’s story is poignant, especially with Family Literacy Day coming up Tuesday. ABCLifeLiteracy.ca started in 1999 to promote reading and writing for the whole family. The premise of the campaign is to let people know that just 15 minutes a day is a great start to boosting literacy. Some of the exercises suggested include a wake-up story, instead or in addition to a bedtime story, searching online together to plan family outings, telling knock-knock jokes while doing chores, writing a story with family members each writing sentences, writing reviews of books read and copying recipes.
Prospera Credit Union, which has branches in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, is supporting Family Literacy Day and also promoting its own HumanomicsCU.ca website, which has activities families can do together to build their financial literacy.