Promoting literacy through free books

Promoting literacy through free books

Literacy benefits the economy, society, and the quality of life of NWT residents. We decided that we could promote literacy by promoting all the places Yellowknifers can find free books.

Well-educated citizens are better able to meet the demands of a modern economy, and are more likely to become productive, healthy, participating members of society (Office of the Auditor General of Canada, 2010). Citizens with lower levels of literacy are more likely to be unemployed, use income support, or work in low paying jobs (Balanoff & Mulloy, 2013). We asked ourselves “How can we make a difference?”

As third year nursing students my partner, Jenipher Nakyanzi, and I were tasked with developing a health promotion initiative. For school this semester, we needed to build a relationship with a community organization. Literacy is our passion, so we chose to promote and advertise the little free library movement already underway in Yellowknife. Christine Barker, of the NWT Literacy Council, was our field guide,

There are 10 little libraries on the fringes of private properties offering free books to passersby in Yellowknife. They operate under the “take a book, leave a book” premise. There is no cost to community members who use these libraries. We also came across nine other locations with free books.

We chose to identify these places on a map and on a Facebook group, called YK Little Free Libraries & Free Book Locations.

We partnered with Aurora College students and staff members to raise money to build and install two new little library sites. We hosted a “Chili Cook-off” which raised money to purchase a free little library for the NWT Literacy Council. The Council may make decorating the library an activity for kids at this summer’s City Market.

The promotion and awareness of places to exchange free books have the potential to improve literacy levels in Yellowknife. We believe free access to reading materials can complement literacy initiatives currently in place.

— Thanks to Aurora College student, Gerri Hunter, for this blog. Gerri has noticed an increase in books donated and taken at her little free library since this project began.

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