Reading across Kamloops
Mention literacy to Fiona Clare and her mind goes into gear with ideas and plans.
So, when representatives of the B.C. team of athletes taking part in the Western Canada Summer Games mentioned the word to her, the literacy advocate’s thought processes went into overdrive.
The athletes wanted to donate books to the children of Kamloops as part of a legacy offering to the Games’ host city.
For Clare, the offer was just the starting block of a project she had heard about in New York City and wanted to bring to the Tournament Capital.
That’s why Clare, her son and daughter and any friends they can round up have been in the former site of the Royal Bank at Sahali Centre Mall, painting bookshelves red.
Very bright red.
It’s called The Bright Red Bookshelf project and its premise is simple: Stock the shelves with children’s books. Put them in public areas. Let kids take the books home to read.
“It’s a way of recirculating used books and increasing book ownership,” said Clare, who is the outreach worker for Literacy Kamloops.
“Kids can read them at the site or they can take them home. They can keep them or bring them back and trade for others.
“The point is to increase book ownership. We want kids to have books at home.”
The bookshelves are handmade and were donated. Local woodworker Bill Gowan made four and staff at Robertson Manufacturing built three.
That number could grow, depending on time available for the volunteer woodworkers because, so far, Clare has had a dozen requests from places wanting to house the bookshelves.
The local Cloverdale Paint store donated the primer and marine-enamel paint.
Sahali Centre Mall is providing a storage area for book donations, which will be accepted on an ongoing basis to keep the stock fresh and full.
There are bins built into the bookshelves for people to donate books if they can’t get to the main location at the mall.
Volunteers will maintain the bookshelves, Clare said, so the host locations don’t have to do anything other than provide the space.
Books don’t have to be new; they can be “gently used,” Clare said.
The annual Heap the Honda book donation event will also be used to ensure there are always books on each shelf.
Bright Red Bookshelf locations will be announced at the Tournament Capital Centre on Thursday, July 14, along with other Games-related announcements.