More than 2,000 new children’s books will be handed out to children of low-income families in Maple Ridge thanks to a donation by First Books Canada.
The charitable organization made the donation to six different local groups to give away to encourage children to read at home.
Elaine Yamamoto, literacy facilitator with the Community Literacy Committee, said the program is of vital importance to help foster the love of reading in the youth, especially for those families who can’t always afford new books.
“When you’re down to your last dollars and the choice is between food and books,” said Yamamoto, “it has to go to food.”
She said handing out new books is important as it also instills a sense of ownership and provides the opportunity for parent’s to read along with their children. Yamamoto said encouraging everyone in a household to read is vitally important for success in life.
According to the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, 42 per cent of Canadian adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have low literacy skills. Of the people that test lowest on literacy, only 20 per cent are employed.
First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. In 2014, First Book Canada distributed over 825,000 new books to children in need across Canada.
In Maple Ridge, the books were handed out to the community literacy committee, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, Fraser Health, community services, School District No. 42, and the Family Education and Support Centre. The Friends in Need Food Bank and the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Literacy Committee donated their time and truck to pick up the books in Richmond.
Yamamoto said she’s encouraged that organizations like the food bank get involved, handing out books in hampers, at Christmas and for birthday packages for clients.
“They take it upon themselves to do the little extras for their clients, making reading a priority. It’s pretty special,” she said.