Penticton’s Raise-A-Reader campaign is very special. Why?
Because Penticton Raise-A-Reader leader, Yasmin John-Thorpe, and those who work alongside her – the Penticton Herald, members of Penticton Writers and Publishers Group (PWAP), and the many fundraiser volunteers from the Penticton Fire Department and others – make sure that the funds that are raised truly go to “raising readers.”
In many communities, the funds raised on “Raise-a-Reader Day” in September, are donated to “literacy” groups, who are then free to use the funds for whatever aspects of “literacy” they choose, including such items as paying staff or running programs, many of which are adult-oriented.
But in Penticton, the funds are used to literally “raise readers” – encouraging children and young people, our future adults and leaders, the future of our nation, to become enthusiastic readers – and writers. Penticton Raise-A-Reader uses the funds to invite children’s and youth authors into schools in the local area. The authors do amazing and entertaining presentations, not only reading from their books, but telling the students about the author’s trade and about how to publish. They also answer student questions, and at the end of the presentation, they personally sign, and present each student with, one of their books. The books are paid for out of Raise-a-Reader funds. Many of the author’s charge only their personal “cost” for the books (not looking for a profit), and give freely of their time, because they, too, of course believe in raising readers!
It is an awesome thing to watch young faces light up with the joy of receiving their very own book, signed by the author, whom they have personally met. Many children, particularly in the current economic conditions, do not otherwise have the opportunity to receive a brand new book of their very own, so this is a very special opportunity for them. Furthermore, actually meeting the author of the book inspires them with the realization that they, too, can become writers. One of this year’s presenters was a young lady from Kelowna, who is only 11 years old. She had her first book published in 2009, and is in the process of having her second book published. The children who watched her presentation were in awe, and many of them are now far more enthusiastic writers and readers! Even the majority of the adult writers started writing when they were young children, and in fact, in their presentations, many of them showed samples of their first “books,” done on loose-leaf paper, self-illustrated, and “bound” with paper-clips or masking tape!
Penticton Raise-A-Reader also supports young readers in our community in other ways. For example, at the PeachFest parade this past summer, young writers who attended the Youth Write BC Camp at Okanagan College in Penticton the first week of July (also supported by Raise-A-Reader), went in the PeachFest Parade and handed out books – instead of the usual candy – to children watching the parade. (The books were donated by the Rotary Club).
Enjoy these snapshots of some of the Raise-A-Reader author’s presentations in Penticton and area schools during the past month. And be sure to take a close look at the faces of the children – who are truly, through these events, being raised to be readers! and writers, too!