Ottawa Public Library launches early literacy initiative

Ottawa (May 7, 2007) - OPL became the first library system in North America to offer the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) early literacy initiative in both French and English with an official launch at the Greenboro District Library featuring Councillor Jan Harder, Chair of the OPL Board, Ottawa paediatrician Dr. Alyson Shaw, and Lori Nash, President of the Friends of the OPL. The new initiative provides workshops for parents and caregivers along with programs and activities to develop six distinct pre-reading skills in young children and was announced today to mark the beginning of Read With Me Week in Ottawa.

Councillor Harder brought along her two grandsons to highlight the importance of reading to children and developing the six pre-reading skills noting, “Studies show that children who have been read to in the first five years of life have a huge advantage in the area of language development”.

“OPL promotes early literacy through many programs, materials and activities designed for very young children and their parents and caregivers,” said Manager of Children’s Services Jane Venus. “The Every Child Ready to Read initiative helps structure OPL programs for young children with activities that target each of the six distinct skills that will accelerate and improve their reading ability.”

“The ECRR early literacy initiative is based on the latest research and is redefining the early literacy role of libraries,” said Dr. Shaw. “The initiative is promoted in Canadian libraries and preschool programs through workshops for parents and childcare providers and is supported by trained librarians with refined material and interactive approaches to skills development,” she added.

Also participating in today’s launch was Lori Nash, president of the Friends of the OPL Association and her young granddaughter. The Friends have funded the production of educational materials to help OPL staff teach parents and caregivers how to integrate learning the six skills into everyday situations.

The OPL provides programming and material to promote child literacy and works in collaboration with other partners and funding sources to promote reading to young children. OPL work with the Public Health Department through the community-based 1,2,3, Read With Me Program, providing packages of resources and information, library lists and material for new parents. Approximately 8,000 book bags are distributed each year in Ottawa through public health nurses and midwives.

Children and families are encouraged to visit their local branch or bookmobile, call InfoService at 613-580-2940 or visit www.BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca for more information.

Al Roberts
Manager, Community Partnerships and Programming
Ottawa Public Library, 580-2424 ext. 41240

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