Two sisters from Oakville, Ont., have been collecting books for more than a year.
After amassing more than 400 books bought out of their own pockets from secondhand stores and garage sales, Emma and Julia Mogus plan on sending the books up to communities in the NAN region.
“We fostered a love of learning and reading,” Emma said, noting that they grew up with cable TV. “We heard there are less fortunate families that don’t have the books like we do. We thought, let’s collect books and give it to a group that really needs those books.”
It was while Emma, 13, was working as a government page that she heard about the book drive started by former Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman, which led to the sisters’ idea to send their books up north.
“A lot of people care about what happens in other places like Africa, but maybe there’s something in our own country that can be done in our own backyard,” Julia, 14, said. “We just came up on some scary facts and that’s how we started.”
After researching, the sisters found out that literacy rates in First Nations communities are as much as four years behind the rest of Canada and that the suicide rates are high.
“We just want to expand to give opportunity for First Nations people that we take for granted,” Julia said.
The sisters call their drive Books with No Bounds, which according their Facebook page is “because every child deserves access to an enormous supply of books, and if they don’t have access, then it is our responsibility to do everything we can to provide the tools necessary to promote literacy.”
Inspired by a Bartleman quote that his “ticket out of poverty was reading,” Emma and Julia understand the importance of literacy.
“It really taught me to dream about goals and it opens doors for imagination,” Julia said.
“They create opportunities for kids: dreams and imaginations,” Emma said. “And they help children to strive to learn. They give you a world out of your own world.”
The sisters held book drives at their schools last weekend and have received an outpouring of support from members of the public to provide drop off points and pick ups to go with book donations.
The Mogus sisters are working on contacting transportation companies and airlines to send the books to the NAN communities.
“No matter what, we know we are getting those books there,” Emma said.
But it won’t be over once this batch of books is sent up north.
“We see this as being bigger – something to go on and on throughout the years,” Emma said.
“We definitely want to keep going as long as we can.”
-87 per cent of Indigenous children in regional and remote areas struggle to read and write and fall well below the national literacy benchmarks (Aboriginal Literacy Foundation).
-Non- indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5. By year 7, the gap has widened, particularly for numeracy (Aboriginal Literacy Foundation).
-Research shows children have a better chance of becoming fully literate adults if reading is encouraged in the home (Literacy BC).
-Many studies have shown that improving parents’ skills directly and positively affects the language development of children (Literacy Skills for the Knowledge Society, IALS 1997, page 62).
-Studies show beyond dispute that children’s achievements in school improves with increased parent involvement in education (Henderson, 1998).
-Simple things like reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years (Early Years Study Final Report: Reversing the Real Brain Drain, Government of Ontario, 1999).
-For a child, the more time spent with a parent reading aloud increases his or her level of attachment, enhances a sense of security, and imparts the knowledge that their parent feels they are worthwhile people with whom to spend time (How to Raise a Reader, 1987).
-Reading to children more than once a day has a substantial positive impact on their future academic skills. In addition, research indicates children with early exposure to books and reading are better at performing mathematical tasks (National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Statistics Canada, 1996-1997).
-Some experts say that for 80 per cent of children, simple immersion in reading and books will lead to independent reading by school age (How to Make Your Child a Reader for Life, Paul Kropp, Random House Canada, 2000).
- “…it is convinced that literacy is crucial to the acquisition, by every child, youth and adult of essential life skills that enable them to address the challenges they can face in life and represents an essential step in basic education, which is an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and economies of the twenty-first century…” -United Nations statement in declaring International Decade of Literacy in 2003.
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