Gateway Mall read-in helps foster love of reading

Jason Kerr
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January is Family Literacy Month in Canada, and several local students marked the occasion at Gateway Mall on Monday with a read-in.

Students from Westview Community School enjoy a trick by local magician Roger Boucher during the Westview Read-in at Coles in Gateway Mall. 

Around 50 students from Westview Community School gathered in front of Coles bookstore to listen to stories read by local community representatives for one hour Monday morning.

“Kids love good literature and they love a good story,” says Westview principal Connie Schill.  “They’re always happy to hear a story or a song or a joke or whatever it is, and we sure saw that today.”

Celebrating literacy wasn’t the only purpose.  The gathering was part of the Love of Reading Foundation’s promotion of children’s literacy.  The foundation was created by Indigo Books and Music, a Canadian retail bookstore chain that include Coles bookstore in the Gateway Mall.  Every year they take donations from customers for the foundation.  Proceeds from fall donations go to their school adoption program.

“Last fall Coles in Prince Albert adopted Westview,” Schill explains.  “They helped us with donations, in terms of books for our library.”

 Schill emphasizes the importance of having a diverse library, so that students of all reading levels can practice and improve their reading.  The hope is that the skills and confidence the students gain from reading will carry over into other areas of their life.

“Children’s literacy is really going to give these kids the tools they need to succeed,” says Coles bookstore manager Joe St. Denis.

A 2011 report by Statistics Canada found that high literacy levels among high school students led to higher income when they became adults.   It’s an example of the kind of tools St. Denis and Schill are talking about.

However, on this particular day the kids weren’t concerned about future earnings.  They were simply there to enjoy a few stories read by Schill, St. Denis, and other local residents like city councillor Charlene Miller and police constable Shawn Rowden.  They also enjoyed a performance by local magician Roger Boucher, who used his own brand of humor to encourage kids to read.

For the adults in attendance though, it’s hard to not think about the future.  Literacy, says Schill, is about more than just reading books.

“It’s directly related to everything we do, all day long,” she says.  “We were thrilled today to be able to emphasize that with our kids.”

This isn’t the only event Westview is running during Family Literacy Month.  Schill says they’ve also had guest authors come speak at their school, and they just finished their Literary Olympics.  They’ve also started a reading chain around the school to encourage students to start reading.  This event was more of a reward for their efforts.

“We were saying to them, ‘You’ve been really working hard and working to make yourself a better reader than you were, being at school, being here on time and being here everyday,’” Schill says.  “So, it was a chance to celebrate our kids too.  They had a great time.”

Organizations: Westview Community School, Reading Foundation, Indigo Books and Music Prince Albert Statistics Canada

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