'I hope it's going to make [my daughter] smarter,'—Nicole Baptiste, parent
Friday, March 26, 2010
New library program fights illiteracy
A library program aims to turn the page on illiteracy in First Nations.
Rolling River First Nation is celebrating the launch of the Imagination Library, which will send a book a month to every child under five in the community.
The First Nation is located about 250 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
American researchers have found that poorer children hear 30 million fewer words than more affluent peers by the time they're three years old.
Thomas Boyce, neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia, said that reading and related activites affect the physical development of a child's brain.
Boyce said he doesn't know systematically what causes the changes, but he does think reading is important.
Dolly Parton's Dollywood Foundation administers the program supported by local donations at a cost of $4 per month per child.
The community of Rolling River has raised enough money to keep it running for 10 years.
Rolling River doesn't have a library or a school, but the community is taking action to make sure their kids get excited about learning.
Kiera and Kendra Baptiste's parents, Nicole and Ivan, are working hard to break the cycle of poverty.
"I don't want my kids to experience that," said Ivan Baptiste. "There's a few times when I was at home and there wasn't any food in the fridge."
Ivan works full time. His wife Nicole works part-time as well and is volunteering with the Imagination Library.
Nicole Baptiste said the day her daughter learned her ABCs was a special day.
"I was so proud that day," said Baptiste. "She just made me so proud. I'm sorry, I'm getting all emotional."
Nicole Baptiste said she knows what it's like to be challenged in school; she was diagnosed with a learning disability in Grade 3.
"I was sad," said Nicole. "I wasn't as smart as the other people and I'm a twin so I wasn't as smart as my sister."
"I hope it's going to make [my daughter] smarter," said Nicole.
Karen Davis, program organizer, said she has already brought the program to Dauphin and the Pinaymootang and Ebb and Flow First Nations.
"I've known parents who really want to get their kids in nursery or head start because it's initiated that love of reading and learning," said Davis.