Organizations join forces to promote

·4 min read

A funding boost from the Manitoba Reading Association is helping Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire members get early literacy books into the hands of 25 Westman families.

The donated books will support the Brandon chapter of IODE’s Read With Me program, said Lorna Cowan, book bag co-ordinator and chapter vice-president. The program is designed to inspire young families to read together.

"That’s our goal, to promote literacy in very young children, because that’s where you need to start," Cowan said. "It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand what you are reading to them in the beginning. They sit and will learn."

The Read With Me program received a donation of $400 in books from the Manitoba Reading Association, providing 25 copies each of the books "Love you Forever" and "Sweetest Kulu." Cowan received the donations Thursday.

Each IODE book bag comes with the label Read With Me and contains three children’s books. The books included with the bags are brand new or have been donated in like brand-new condition. The bags are targeted at preschoolers, aged five and under. The book bag package includes a brochure from IODE along with a letter about the program and items encouraging parents to read with their children.

It is important to target early childhood literacy, Cowan said, because it can inspire young people to become lifelong readers. Reading with youth helps children learn words and also helps foster a positive relationship with their parents.

The IODE has had multiple community members and associations reach out to support the organization and promote early childhood literacy through the Read With Me program.

The initiative received further support from the Victoria Seniors Association at Lion’s Manor who provided $100 in funding to purchase new books.

"That is just wonderful because it means we can extend this program for a little bit longer," Cowan said.

The Brandon IODE chapter will be celebrating its 62nd birthday with a members-only lunch on April 27. Cowan said members had planned on celebrating the 60th anniversary two years ago but this was not possible due to COVID-19.

Cowan has been a member of the IODC for 50 years, and the club still boasts one charter member.

"You stay involved because you believe in what’s happening and what’s going on the things that people are doing."

The national chapter of IODE is currently challenging local chapters to create community-focused initiatives that commemorate the queen’s 70th jubilee. Cowan hopes the Brandon chapter will be able to donate 70 socks multiple times or find other projects to benefit the community.

The Manitoba Reading Association’s donation to the IODE marks their first time collaborating together, said president-elect Stacey Bradley.

"I think that the Read With Me program, what we liked about it … was that it’s important for families and it’s a bonding experience between parents and children," Bradley said.

"Reading is super important for development, but it’s also really important to establish that love of reading really early on in life because good readers will experience so much more success in life."

Part of the mandate of the reading association is to conduct outreach projects and donate funding each year to local initiatives in Manitoba and an international project.

Bradley appreciates Manitoba Reading Association’s choice to support an organization in Westman.

Manitoba Reading Association has been working to include Indigeneity in the programming, and "Sweetest Kulu" is one of the current president’s favourite books. Bradley said she is excited for 25 families to read it as well as the Canadian classic, "Love You Forever."

The association is committed to supporting Truth and Reconciliation, she said, and "Sweetest Kulu" fits together perfectly with the Read With Me program.

"Sweetest Kulu" tells the story of gifts provided by multiple animals to Kulu, paired with beautiful art. Each animal imparts important characteristics to Kulu such as the gift of patience.

"The author [of "Sweetest Kulu"] is [Inuk] and she’s actually a throat singer. She’s kind of got a cool backstory and if you read the whole story, it talks about Kulu, a term of endearment for baby," Bradley said. "It’s kind of like ‘Love You Forever’ in that it’s a motherly figure speaking to a baby."

For more information on Manitoba Reading Association or to join the organization, visit readingmanitoba.org. The website also includes parent resources to support children and teens.

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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