Canadian initiative to donate books to kids during pandemic wins World Literacy Award

Read On Canada! is ​​a group of reading advocates and food bank partners from across the country, working to get books and reading resources to children.

Read On Canada! is ​​a group of reading advocates and food bank partners from across the country

Read On Canada! is a coalition of 16 non-profit organizations, including the Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation, First Book Canada, Harvest Manitoba and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, whose goal is to assist with children's literacy during the pandemic. (Submitted by Read On! Canada)

Read On Canada!/Lisons Canada! has won a 2021 World Literacy Award in the category of Significant Contribution to Literacy in Response to the Pandemic. 

Read On Canada!/Lisons Canada! is ​​a group of Canadian reading advocates and food bank partners with a mandate of providing books and reading resources to children. Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation is the coordinating partner of the coalition.

The participating non-profit organizations include the Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation, First Book Canada, Harvest Manitoba and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

The coalition first formed around May 2020, after libraries and schools had been closed down across Canada for weeks. 

Since the pandemic started, the group has been distributing books in communities across Canada through food banks and sharing a range of online reading activities for children.

The coalition has distributed more than 150,000 books in both French and English to over 230 food banks or food-related provinces in every province and territory across Canada.

LISTEN | Literacy skills low in many Canadian kids:

The 2021 award ceremony took place virtually on Sept. 8, International Literacy Day, in London.

"As a coalition of literacy groups and food banks, our goal is to empower all children to thrive on their reading journeys, even during the COVID-19 pandemic," Ariel Siller, CEO of Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation, said in a statement.

"We're grateful to the many food banks across Canada that were part of Read On Canada! this summer, and to the publishers and other supporters who have made the initiative possible."

Harvest Manitoba, a food distributor based in Winnipeg, are part of the Read On Canada! children's literacy initiative. Pictured above: Colleen McVarish, director of corporate partnerships (left), and Mika Peterson, community events manager. (Submitted by Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation)

The World Literacy Awards celebrate individuals and organizations annually for their outstanding endeavours to promote literacy learning. 

Other winners this year include ​​Malaika, a nonprofit organization empowering girls and their communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Julian Lennon, whose White Feather Foundation supports education, health, conservation and Indigenous cultures, and Ginny Williams-Ellis, the chief executive of the nonprofit Read Easy UK.

The awards are an initiative of the World Literacy Foundation, a peak global literacy charity and the World Literacy Council.
You can find out more on the World Literacy Awards website.

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