What is literacy and why is the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) making a big deal of it?
The answer is simply because literacy affects every aspect of our lives. Literacy skills include reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking. Literacy is a big deal because literacy skills allow us to reach our full potential in both in our public and personal lives, impacting our economic status, our quality of life and even our health.
CBAL is making a big deal out of literacy in September and starting it off with a celebration of reading in public — a read-aloud open mike night dubbed the Big Read. Reading is usually a solitary activity, done in private. Rarely do we get to share the pleasure of reading with others. CBAL — a non-profit literacy organization serving 17 communities in the Columbia Basin and Boundary region — is hoping to change that, at least for one night.
CBAL is asking community members to come together to celebrate reading. Do you have favourite books that made an impression on you or affected your life in some way? Dust them off, look up your favourite passages and come share them on Sept. 8 at the Snoring Sasquatch. This is a free, all ages event. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the fun starts at 6:30.
The first portion of the program will be dedicated to the reading of children’s material. After the intermission, the program will focus on more adult-focused readings. If you wish to read, there will be a sign-up sheet at the door, but it is highly recommended you reserve your spot in advance by contacting Creston community literacy coordinator Joan Hedstrom at 250-435-0388 or email@example.com or Signe Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Readings should fit within a three- to five-minute time frame.
The Big Read features special guest readers such as Creston Mayor Ron Toyota and Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie. Hear Jim Jacobsen and Alison Bjorkman read selections from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s infamous business guide, the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. There will be children’s tales from Aaron Francis and Ellie Reynolds. And what surprises will Creston Museum manager Tammy Hardwick have up her sleeve?
At this event, the sixth annual Creston Community Literacy Award will be handed out. This award is given to someone in the community who has made a contribution to literacy. If you know of someone you’d like to nominate for next year’s award, contact Hedstrom.
As the month unfolds, CBAL will be planning our programs for the 2015-16 year. It will continue with familiar programs: Baby Goose in partnership with the Creston Valley Library; Making Connections, a program for parents of school-aged children to learn how to help their children read and learn; and, Telling our Life Stories and more.
It is also looking to add new programs this year, including a drop-in computer skills practice lab on Wednesday mornings, and a program on documents and forms in the workplace. All of the programs are free.
How can you help? There’s a few ways. For one, CBAL is always interested to know what the literacy needs are in this community. If you see a gap, let it know.
Second, volunteer with CBAL. We need volunteer English as a second language tutors, adult literacy tutors and children’s tutors for a children’s reading program at participating local schools.
Third, make a donation. You’ll have a chance to do this in October when CBAL partners with the Creston Valley Advance for the annual Reach a Reader fundraiser. Donations from Reach a Reader stay in the community and fund local CBAL programs.
—COLUMBIA BASIN ALLIANCE FOR LITERACY