PORT HARDY—A new early childhood literacy program got off to a rousing start Sunday when nearly 100 people turned out and contributed more than 400 books at the 1,000×5 Family Literacy Fair at the Civic Centre.
“I was really excited by the response from the community,” said Amanda Kiatipis, Early Years and Literacy teacher for School District 85. “I’ve been to a lot of Ready, Set, Learn events that weren’t so big, usually 25 or 30 people. So this was huge.”
Saturday’s fair boasted a wide range of activities for children and families, including Zumba for Kids with Kendra Parnham-Hall, bilingual storytelling from the Kwak’wala Granny (Maggie Sedgemore), play dough and other crafts, a book walk, face-painting and snacks.
Information and display booths were set up by Strong Start Infant Development, Port Hardy Museum, Family Place and more.
The literacy fair was co-organized by Kiatipis, though the Ready, Set, Learn program and by Stephanie Nelson of the Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society.
The program’s goal is to provide books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and encourage parents to expose them to as many as 1,000 books by age five. Four large tubs at the Civic Centre entrance were filled with used books by the end of Sunday’s fair, and Kiatipis said other donations delivered to her office brings the total of books to nearly 500.
Another drop-off bin has been placed at Overwaitea and additional bins will be placed in the coming days at Cafe Guido, the Port Hardy Library and at Eagle View Elementary School. Books collected over the next 4-6 weeks will then be cleaned, sorted for age-appropriateness and placed in fabric “mystery” bags. Each book will have a sticker identifying it as part of the 1,000×5 project, along with a note explaining the importance of early ready to children.
Then they’ll be placed in the bins, which will be returned to the locations — this time as pick-up stations rather than drop-off.
Any family can pick up a bag of books once they are ready, sometime in later July. There are no qualifying criteria and no sign-up requirements.
“They can keep the books as long as they like,” Kiatipis said. “Then, when we decided it’s time to collect more, we’ll put out the drop-off bins again.”