Today is family literacy day.
A cause for celebration, a time for awareness. Around the world. In our own neighbourhoods.
A day to pause and reflect a bit, too.
The links beteen illiteracy and poverty, illteracy and violence, illiteracy and crime are indisputable.
Here are some sobering statistics from Corrections Services Canada on federally incarcerated prisoners...
- 77 percent did not complete high school
- 60 percent have no trade or skill
- 80 percent have unstable work history
Ten years ago The Nova Scotia Read To Me program was officially born. The vision for the progam had been in the minds and hearts of many for years. It took a team of visionary, hard working, committed people : professionals and volunteers to bring this initiative to fruition. The work is never-ending. The program's birthday means the first babies Read TO Me served are now ten years old.
The link to the Read to me website is here.
The links to community, the links to the health and well-being , to the literacy education and heart education of the children and families of Nova Scotia are endless and priceless.
The program is about so much more than giving away bags of books and CD's and literacy inforrmation for every baby born in Nova Scotia- although this is no small thing ---and to date 78,500 bags of such treasure have been distributed. 78,500 babies reached!
The Read to Me program is about how we nurture our children in the world and the world of words and numbers, how we cradle our children in the rhythmns of life and language. How we help them find their voices. How reading aloud can create a safe place for imagining and asking, for thinking and dreaming and problem solving.
It's about turning the hope for a more literate culture and healthier society into action and reality.
I'm starting to sound like I'm running for some sort of office.
So, let me tell you a story.
I'm in grocery store. I'm wearing my Read to Me vest. A young mother, child in tow, approaches. The mother is somewhat embarassed but the child is excited. "She spotted the logo. We have a Read to Me Bag." says the mother proudly.
Her child is fourteen months old she tells me.
"Your child is reading!" I almost shriek.
"I know", she says, "I know. We read every day."
I've been both humbled and proud to have been The Honorary Spokesperson for the program since its birth. That's meant I've held more babies and read to even more children than I might have. I've also been blessed to work with special people -Dr. Richard Goldbloom, Shanda LaRamee to name but two. Above all I worked with one of my best freinds as a collegue.
On Read to Me's tenth birthday I want to sing Happy Brithday to writer, children's literature consultant, speaker and teacher, and Executive Director of Read To Me: Carol Mcdougall.
Carol: your vision, your professionalism, your kindness, your endless hours of work, your love and many gifts have made a HUGE difference. Yes, it takes many to make a program run, but your passion for this program and vision of family literacy is inclusive, open-hearted, authentic.
As a mother, a grandmother, a writer, a literacy educator, and your friend, thank you for allowing me to be part of a most wonderful wonderful story. You've taught me much.
So blow out the candles, dear friend ! Dance ! Babies are tapping toes ! Families are reading !