Published on Wed, 01/17/2018 by ABC Life Literacy Canada

Q&A with Family Literacy Day Honourary Chair Barbara Reid

Family Literacy Day® is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

Taking time every day to read or do a learning activity with children is crucial to a child’s development, improving a child’s literacy skills dramatically, and can help a parent improve their skills as well.

Barbara Reid, Honourary Chair of Family Literacy Day, is a picture book author and illustrator whose award-winning stories are illustrated with artwork created with plasticine. She has written and illustrated over a dozen picture books. Barbara is a member of the Order of Canada and has been the Honourary Chair of Family Literacy Day since 2016. 

Q. Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?

As with my kids, it’s impossible to have a favorite! I am always the most excited about the next book – the one in my imagination.

Q. What is your process for creating your plasticine illustrations?

Sketch & plan picture; make & fix mistakes! Spread clay on board, model and add texture to build up the picture. Photograph the final.

Q. What do you think makes a good story?

Stories with characters or setting that pull me in make me want to visit the story again, and again, and again...

Q. Are any of your stories based on your children or people you know?

Many! Daughters Zoe & Tara star in The Party; Perfect Snow is inspired by a real snow fort; Subway Mouse is based on a real mouse.

Q. What is your favourite family learning activity?

Walking outdoors, spotting wildlife and birds, talking and looking at the sky.

Q. Do you have advice for writers (young and old) who might want to write their own story?

Keep a notebook, write often, read your work out loud, join a writing group or class, enter contests, and read, read, read!

Q. What tips can you share for parents to help encourage their children to read?

Get a library card, visit the library together, learn together how to find books about things that interest the child. Most important: read aloud, every day!

Q. How can parents and children learn at play every day?

Have fun with chores like counting, sorting, list making. Add songs & rhymes to activities, play I Spy on walks. Be curious, observe, share.

Q. If you could be anywhere right now, doing anything, what would you be doing and where?

Reading in a tree house.

Q. What is your all-time favourite story?

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. It has a mischievous hero, thrilling chase and a happy ending.

Download Barbara's activity sheets for ways to learn at play with modelling clay at


Every year on January 27, ABC Life Literacy Canada hosts Family Literacy Day, the largest national family literacy event in Canada. Literacy organizations, schools, libraries and media groups will coordinate numerous literacy-themed events and activities across the country in honour of this special initiative. 

News Media Canada is a proud supporter of Family Literacy Day, distributing public service announcements and editorial resources from ABC Life Literacy Canada to our members. Download print and web ads, PSAs, matte stories such as the one above, and more from and promote Family Literacy Day in your newspaper and website.

fld-2018-barbarareid-tips-web.pdfFamily Literacy Day 2018 - Tips from Barbara Reid (PDF)288.8 KB