Thunder Bay

'Special and unique' book donation program sends books up north

The owner of a children's bookstore in southern Ontario is hoping to help send books to students up north, through a new donation program in partnership with Teach for Canada — an organization that recruits teachers to teach in remote First Nation communities.

Eleanor LeFave started the Kids Read North program

The owner of Mabel's Fables bookstore in Toronto said she decided to start a new book donation program called, Kids Read North, after attending a Teach for Canada conference in the summer of 2018. (Submitted by Eleanor LeFave)

The owner of a children's bookstore in southern Ontario is hoping to help send books to students up north, through a new donation program in partnership with Teach for Canada — an organization that recruits teachers to work in remote First Nation communities.

Eleanor LeFave said she got the idea to start Kids Read North after attending a Teach for Canada conference in the summer of 2018 in Thunder Bay, Ont.

"This conference was for teachers that were about to go to their respective First Nations schools," LeFave explained, "so I, in December thought about all these teachers up north and all these kids in the northern schools and thought, I bet we could do something with them."

She said she contacted the organization after the conference to get the names and ages of the students the teachers will be teaching this year.

"We write [the name and age] on cards ... and we hang them from the ceiling, and our customers come in and they will choose a card ... and then go into our bookshelves and choose a favourite book to donate," LeFave said, adding that she then wraps them individually for each student and waits to ship them until she's collected enough books for the entire class.

LeFave said she received approximately 250 names and ages of students. (Submitted by Eleanor LeFave)

Kids Read North is 'special and unique'

"I also believe too, and it's also my experience, that children like to re-read books," LeFave said, "and being exposed to a lot of books is a wonderful thing."

She said she created this donation program to ensure students are able to take the books home with them, rather than leaving them at the school's library or classroom.

"It's special and unique because often organizations or individuals want to send used books or a general load of books to the community," Teach for Canada's teacher development manager Natasha Davey explained. "However ... schools aren't looking for old books or outdated content. Even in the north, new books that are culturally relevant are needed and often those books are intended to stay in the school."

She said LeFave's Kids Read North program not only ensures that every student in the class gets to take home a book, but it also provides students with age appropriate books as well as culturally relevant books, if possible.

"What's really special about this program ... is that she's encouraging people to go to the store, they can choose one of those cards and pair it with a book of their choice [for] that child. So there is some choice in the buyer's decision," Davey said.

Anyone interested in sending a book through LeFave's Kids Read North program can visit the Mabel's Fables website for more information.