On January 21st, families, educators and service providers flooded Nanaimo’s Harbourfront Library for the hugely successful launch of the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership’s first-ever multicultural literacy kits. More than 80 people attended the drop-in event throughout the morning.
Children and families from many different backgrounds and ethnicities were treated to a first glimpse of the literacy kits and were able to look through some of the available books, toys and music collected in the kits. Volunteers provided information about the cultures and languages represented, and how the kits can be used to encourage literacy skills in children from 0 to 6 years old.
As a key partner in this project, Kwumut Lelum’s own Audrey Bouvet was on hand to promote the Coast Salish literacy kits, developed and curated by KL staff to highlight the language, culture and stories of our people. The kits will not only help First Nations children to develop their literacy skills, but will also expose children from other backgrounds to the rich culture and traditions of the Coast Salish. The kits include books with titles like “The Sun and the Moon”, “Clever Raven”, and “Granny and I Got Traditional Names”. They also have toys like eagle and raven hand puppets, and a Coast Salish Sea to Sky Bingo game, to help children learn through play.
As part of the celebratory launch, storytellers shared tales to a rapt audience of young children who were sprawled across the floor while their parents looked on. They were encouraged to try on Metis sashes during a reading of I Can Bead, watched a puppet performance of a traditional Serbian story about a rooster and his friends, gathered in a friendship circle to hear the Snuneymuxw legend of Father Sun’s capture by the wily seagull, and listened to a favourite story about Spot the dog told in both Arabic and English.
With the launch of these new literacy kits, Nanaimo families will now have access to books, activities and music from a dozen different cultures including Metis, Japanese, Arabic, Serbian and Russian. “These literacy kits are an amazing way to engage our children in a love of reading from a very early age,” enthuses Audrey. “And with the addition of two new Coast Salish kits, children from our member nations can see their own culture and experiences reflected back at them – they can feel more included.”
The kits can be borrowed from any branch of the VIRL for up to 3 weeks at a time. Each kit contains a series of age-appropriate books (many of them in the native language of the culture), and a combination of activities, CDs, DVDs or toys, all contained in a handy backpack.