Although early childhood literacy rates have been steadily declining all over the country, there are those in Prince Albert would are looking to raise the bar.
© Herald photo by Ian Cowie.
Madison Gouldhawke, right, reads to her twin sister Abby at the Bernice Sayese Centre on Wednesday.
“I think we can’t do enough to support early literacy,” says John M. Cuelenaere Public Library director Alex Juorio.
On Wednesday, about 50 children inhaled pizza, guzzled pop and quietly read as the Summer Reading Club celebrated its year-end windup party at its new satellite location in the Bernice Sayese Centre.
“The branch at the Bernice Sayese Centre is the product of an initiative set by our board to do more outreach in our community,” Juorio said.
“We are getting out to the West Flat where we’re needed the most.
“We’ve observed in previous years that, even in the heart of the winter, kids would walk from out here to use our downtown facilities, and we’ve known for a long time that we’ve needed to do something in this part of the city.”
From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday this summer, children young and old had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Reading Club. Although the reading club is nothing new for the centre, 2013 marked the first year children were able to access the computers and books directly through the centre.
Though the satellite library started with humble beginnings -- one laptop and a wardrobe full of books -- it has mushroomed into a fully equipped space with two public computers and three wardrobes full of hundreds of books.
“There’s a considerable amount of research that shows that good literacy skills stop people from making poor life choices later on in life,” Juorio said.
According to Statistics Canada, 15 per cent of Canadians can’t comprehend the labels on medicine bottles, 27 per cent can’t decipher warnings on hazardous waste material sheets and 42 per cent are “semi-literate,” meaning technically they can read, but their comprehension levels are very low.
“If you have poor literacy skills, frequently you get marginalized in society,” Juorio added.
“Doing something like this in Prince Albert helps kids make good decisions, and makes the community better for all of us.”
Kim Bear, program services supervisor for the Bernice Sayese Centre said the Summer Reading Club was a huge hit this year, and she looks forward to having it back again next year.
“We did a pilot project this year with the library where the kids can come and look at the library books, and afterwards we do a craft,” Bear said.
“Each time they come in they get their name entered in a draw, and this year we are giving away a bike.”
Bear said this year has been a huge success with 64 kids registered in the summer reading program.
Ten-year-old Abby Gouldhawke said it’s not just about colouring and winning prizes; she also enjoys reading as well.
“Personally, I probably like colouring and winning prizes the most, but I also like reading a bit,” Gouldhawke said.
She said that although Robert Munsch is probably her favourite author, she also has a soft spot for Harry Potter.
“I think reading is important because then you can learn new things and new words.”
The John M. Cuelenaere Public Library will be celebrating its 100th birthday party on Sept.10, and a special centennial event on Sept. 14.