Written by a representative for Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation
This week marks the start of Read On Canada!, an exciting initiative from a coalition of reading advocates and Food Banks Canada, supported by the generous donation of books from Canadian publishers. The Read On Canada! initiative is making more than 130,000 books available to families through food bank partners and sharing fun activities online at ReadOnCanada.ca. The goal is to inspire all children to “read on” as the school year officially comes to an end and the pandemic stretches into summer.
Read On Canada! was created to mitigate the effects of the “summer slide,” a drop in reading ability which can happen over the summer months, particularly among children who do not have opportunities to read during the school break. This year, the slide is expected by some educators to be a “summer avalanche” given the long disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These disruptions affect all children, including babies and pre-schoolers, with pandemic-related closures of libraries, daycares, and community programs.
“Too many children in Canada are heading into summer with limited access to reading materials,” said Ariel Siller, CEO of the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation, coordinating partner of the Read On Canada! coalition. “We launched Read On Canada! to help address that, providing books and reading activities to families with children from birth through to age ten so they can find joy, comfort, and enrichment in the power of words during these challenging times.”
All Canadians are encouraged to join the Read On Canada! movement by reading with a child they love and visiting ReadOnCanada.ca to check out the growing collection of fun reading activities for families. You can also show your support on social media by declaring that you are “reading on” this summer, using the hashtag #ReadOnCanada. Check out how astronaut Chris Hadfield has joined the movement in the video below.
The Read On Canada! coalition came together around a shared view that reading with children, starting from their earliest days, and supporting them to “read on” is an important way to help them reach their full potential in school and throughout life. Age-appropriate, engaging reading materials are crucial to helping children develop the skills they need to thrive emotionally and academically. Strong reading skills are strongly linked to children becoming healthier, more socially engaged and more productive adults.
“This summer, many families struggling with food insecurity will get the gift of hope in a food hamper,” says Chris Hatch, CEO of Food Banks Canada. “Because of our partnership with Read On Canada!, not only will families with children receive much-needed food supplies, but each child will also receive a book, which has the ability to open up a world of possibilities. They will know that someone cares, not only for their physical well-being, but for their development as well.”
For more information about Read On Canada!, visit the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation website.