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Literacy Café in Buchans encourages love of reading


BUCHANS, NL — Lakeside Academy and the Buchans Public Library teamed up for their first Literacy Café and “book tasting” on Nov. 27.

The event was intended to give local people a taste of what the local library has to offer.

The gym was transformed into a café-like atmosphere and baskets filled with books served as a centrepiece for each table.

Coffee, tea and hot chocolate, as well as plenty of baked goodies, completed the set up.

Teacher Jennifer Perry and librarian Dawn Pennell said they are pleased with this first attempt at book tasting.

Pennell said there was a great turnout and they consider the event a definite success.

"We (NL Public Libraries) have had book tastings before but not here in Buchans,” said Pennell.

When Perry approached her about the idea, she thought it was great.

She also put together a display outside the library showing examples of what is available, adding it’s not just about books.

“A lot of people say, well I can’t read because I can’t see anymore, but we have large-print books and we have audio books,” she said. “We have the outreach service where I can come to your house and give you a book if need be. We just want to make people aware that we’re here and we have all this stuff to offer.”

In conjunction with the school, a Reading Chain Reaction Challenge is also open to adults if they want to take part. It involves reading at least 25 books.

“We’re also doing a reading challenge for the kids,” Pennell said.

She has a list of books children have to read before Dec. 22, the last day of school before Christmas. Each book read will add a link to the chain, which will then be a Christmas decoration.

“This has been phenomenal,” says Pennell. “The kids have been coming in and getting books. I’ve got inter-library loans request for books; they are coming out of the woodwork, so it’s really been good for the kids in the school and for the library.”

The challenge also includes suggestions like “read a book that looks boring,” so readers will choose what they normally wouldn’t read.

One of the school’s goals is to improve student literacy rates.

“We found that our students are not reading,” said Perry, the school’s English teacher. “We are going to try whatever we can to get them reading and we’re hoping that something like this would bring them in, get them to pick up a book and start.”

She said she’s been encouraging students to come to the cafe to simply enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a treat, and at least pick up a book to look at.

“That’s all we’re asking. And if they like one and want to take it home, they can do that,” she said, adding books signed out from the library don’t have to be returned until after Christmas.

“We’re hoping to get people from the community too,” she said.

The event also included giveaways of donated books.

She hopes this event will inspire children, and others, to read more.

“I think kids need to love reading; that will make them successful in the rest of their life,” said Perry.

“I think that’s the number one important thing to teach them in school – how to read and enjoy it. There’s so many things that take the kids attention these days, so much else they can do, but we’re hoping that they will pick up a book.”

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