The Delta Literacy Program emphasizes the importance of reading

With the help of Raise-a-Reader, young mothers in Delta can take books home for their children.

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With the help of Raise-a-Reader, young mothers in Delta can take books home for their children.

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“When books are more accessible at home, it helps mothers to read to their children and develop their literacy skills,” said Rupinder Sandhu, family support worker at Boys and Girls Club South Coast BC

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In partnership with Deltaassist, BGC South Coast BC launched the Growing and Learning Together program in 2019 to help young mothers with educational sessions on various aspects of child rearing. The Delta Community Literacy Committee came on board to organize sessions on the importance of early literacy and offer virtual workshops with a children’s librarian.

The committee also purchased children’s books through raise-a-reader funds to give to mothers.

“A librarian used the books we bought to teach mothers how to get their children excited about books, how to use rhymes and songs, and how to just engage a small child with the pictures,” Sandhu said.

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Rupinder Sandhu at Gibson Elementary School in North Delta, BC, September 22, 2022. (Photo: Arlen Redekop / PostMedia)
Rupinder Sandhu at Gibson Elementary School in North Delta, BC, September 22, 2022. (Photo: Arlen Redekop / PostMedia) Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the earlier a parent starts reading to their child, the better.

“Key milestones for oral language and vocabulary happen between birth and age three,” said Heather Turner, M.Ed., quoted on “Reading aloud in a child’s early years builds their vocabulary, their knowledge of the world, and the sounds and patterns of written language – all of which lay a solid foundation for literacy.”

After the sessions with the librarian, each parent receives a set of six to seven books and a doll.

“A young mother told us that she had learned so much and was so excited to have books of such good quality,” Sandhu said. “She said good quality books were very expensive and now she has her own to take anywhere.”

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Many of the young mothers face obstacles and are under 25 years old. Over 20 mothers took part in the “Growing and learning together” program.

Annika, 20, says the literacy classes “helped in so many ways. We spend more time reading as a family. We read to our kids every night.”

Annika has a two-month-old child and is a stepmother to a four-year-old and a seven-year-old child.

“You like Robert Munsch very much,” she said. “They love silly books. We read one book every night, sometimes three. When we laid the four-year-old down, we all read to her. Her father and I take turns reading and bringing the baby in.”

Munsch’s I Love You Forever is one of her son’s favorite books.

“I must have read it to him 50 times,” she said. “I almost learned it by heart. He likes to see the little child. He sees a resemblance.”

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Aisha, another Growing and Learning Together participant, has two children, an 11-month-old girl and a three-year-old boy. Since joining the program, the 24-year-old mother has started reading to them every day.

“I didn’t know they were supposed to be read to from birth,” she said. “I did it more with my second child and she’s more focused than my son.”

How to donate

Since its inception in 1997, Raise-a-Reader has raised more than $21 million to promote literacy in BC. The literacy campaign supports provincial-wide programs like Partners in Education Plus, offered by the Canucks Family Education Center. The Canucks Center offers family literacy programs through intergenerational and lifelong learning support, supported in part by Raise-a-Reader.

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You can donate at any time. Here’s how:

• Online at

• By phone at 604.681.4199

• By check payable to Vancouver Sun Raise-a-Reader:

1125 Howe Street, No. 980

Vancouver, BC V6Z 2K8


Twitter: @RARvancouver

Literacy is a tool that everyone needs

The literacy skills of nearly half of British Columbians aged 16 to 65 could make it difficult for them to understand newspapers, follow instruction manuals, read health information, fill out a tax return, read a rental agreement or rent a car, according to Decoda Library catalog to use Literacy Solutions, the provincial BC literacy organization.

And about half of the province’s age-match population may have trouble calculating interest on a car loan, using information on a chart, or determining medication dosages, according to Decoda, which provides resources, training, funding and support for community-based literacy programs and initiatives in over 400 BC communities.

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About 16 percent of British Columbians (or 700,000) achieved Level 1 literacy or below, according to an international survey (the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Skills) of 27,000 Canadians in 2012.

Level 1 literacy means learning how to complete a form at work, navigate a website, find information on a list sent home from preschool, use information on a grocery label, or do comparison shopping battle.

It is said that improved literacy at home can help Canadians enjoy better health, manage their finances, understand their rights and responsibilities and legal processes, and pass on their literacy skills to their children.

At work, it can also improve job prospects, increase income, reduce work-related stress by being more efficient and accurate at work, and increase the likelihood of participating in adult education and vocational training.

And in the community, it can increase community participation and volunteering and political engagement, and increase the likelihood of inclusion in society.

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