Literacy program for Almaguin children well received

A literacy program in Almaguin that promotes reading among young children has been able to register 30 families.

And for the families that signed up, their children will by now have received their first free book which is The Little Engine That Could.

The Family Literacy Committee of Almaguin launched the reading program in July with the hope that it could sign up 35 families.

Committee chair Tammy Ward says the target wasn't reached but remains a goal.

The free books are provided by Dolly Parton's Imagination Library through the Dollywood Foundation which the local committee is affiliated with and was created by singer, songwriter and actress Dolly Parton.

Although most families will have received The Little Engine That Could welcome book, Ward says if some of the current families are previous registrants from another literacy group like the one in Muskoka, then they are on the receiving end of a different book.

The program is designed for children who are newborns and up to the age of five.

Ward says locally most of the families that registered are from the Katrine and Burk's Falls area.

Others are from Emsdale, Novar, Sprucedale, Kearney, South River and Sundridge.

Magnetawan falls into the literacy program boundaries but Ward says no family from that community has registered their child yet.

Ward says what drives the program are sponsors and private donations.

The committee needs to have in place $50 a year per child to provide a free book each month for the youngster.

With the fundraising at $4,700 to date, Ward says that covers the cost of the books for the 30 current children for the next three years.

Ward is doing much of the fundraising herself and describes the support for the program as “really positive.”

“There's an excitement when providing literacy for children,” she said.

“The people I've talked to have said it's a great idea.”

Ward says all the families that registered did so through hard copy applications.

But the next round of registries will be through an online process.

No date has been set for that just yet.

In addition, Ward says the public will be able to make online donations which can also be made in memory of someone or in celebration of an individual.

“The donation could be from someone whose parents were avid readers and have passed away,” Ward said.

“And in memory of their mom or dad, they may want to make that kind of donation that helps young children learn to read.”

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget