Raise-a-reader raises literacy awareness
Sep 26, 2013 / 5:00 am
Much has been made of the annual Raise-a-Reader campaign in which local newspapers are sold on the streets for donations, with 100 per cent of all money going towards local literacy programs.
It’s the single most important fundraiser of the year for the Kelowna chapter of Project Literacy, but executive director Diana Groffen says it’s also a great opportunity to raise awareness in the community about literacy and literacy issues.
“Many people think of literacy as either you can read, or you can’t read; you can either write or you can’t write. They don’t realize there are levels of literacy,” she explains.
Their program caters to people of all ages and all skill types, including those seeking a firmer grasp on the fundamentals and others looking to upgrade their language and math skills for college or trade schools.
This is especially important, as Groffen believes there is currently a greater demand than ever on the workplace, requiring a higher level of literacy skills than ever before.
Also taking part in the Raise-a-Reader campaign is the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL).
Aside from soliciting donations, they have a complete section on literacy for those learning how to read.
“A big part of our mandate is to provide literacy opportunities, whether it be for children, youth or adults in our library,” says Michele Rule, communications manager at the ORL.
“Our librarians are trained with what we call reader advisory. When someone comes in, they can talk to any staff member and tell them the types of books they may like, what level of reading they might be at, and get help finding books that are appropriate for them.”
The library also offers special programming to children in the summertime and an adult book club that runs year round at both the downtown and Mission branches.
“We’re constantly offering programs, especially for children. So even if a child is from a family where the adults have literacy problems, there are opportunities for them,” says Rule.
While the Raise-a-Reader campaign ultimately shines a spotlight on the problems associated with illiteracy, the stigma often remains, leaving many people too embarrassed to come forward and confront the issue. Groffen feels that people should be proud to improve their language skills and get the support that they need.
Last year the program raised $36,000 for literacy in Kelowna.
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