Submitted by: Lion Gail Stelter, Chair Reading Action Program Committee
Date: January 8, 2022
The Haliburton and District Lions Club Reading Action Program is dedicated to promoting literacy development for children. Our goal is to create literacy project and events that result in putting books in the hands of local children.
Each year, usually beginning in June and completed by September our Reading Action Program Committee meets to review past projects and initiatives and to set goals and develop and articulate an implementation plan for the upcoming year. This plan is then presented to the club with an accompanying budget for approval at the September business meeting.
The following report represents the Lion year July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022 and also provides future considerations and concluding comments.
Projects and Initiatives
Books for Our Elementary Schools
There are four elementary schools in our Club’s geographic area: Stuart Baker (JK to Grade 3) and J. D. Hodgson (Grades 4 to 8) in Haliburton Village; Cardiff (JK to Grade 3) in the Village of Cardiff and Wilberforce (Grade 4 to 6) in the Village of Wilberforce.
Blue Spruce Award Program for Cardiff and Stuart Baker Elementary Schools
The Blue Spruce Award is a new addition to the Haliburton Lions Reading Action Program. The Blue Spruce Award is part of the Forest of Reading Program, which is organized by the Ontario Library Association and is Canada’s largest recreational reading program with participation by schools and children from kindergarten to grade 12. Ten books are chosen in each level and the Blue Spruce Award books are specifically designed for readers in kindergarten to grade 2.
Children vote to determine the winning book after they have read all of the titles. Participation in the program encourages a love of reading; promotes the development of the skill of evaluating a picture book based on the story and the pictures; and provides high quality books which remain in the schools. The Haliburton Lions have purchased two sets of the nominated books for Stuart Baker and one set for Cardiff and, in addition have paid the program registration fee for both schools.
We are excited to work with our local schools and to add this component to our existing programs.
Distribution of books for summer reading to all students at Cardiff and Wilberforce Elementary Schools
Cardiff and Wilberforce are small rural schools with an approximate student population of 60 pupils each. These schools are located in areas of low income and high needs. In past years, the Haliburton Lions have visited each school near the end of June. This visit was designed as a special presentation that included story reading and songs led by Lions and that culminated with each child choosing a new book to keep and take home. Covid-19 restrictions have changed the nature of the visit but not the intent. Accordingly, if we are not able to go inside the schools in June 2022, we will follow all current protocols and expect to be able to meet the children outdoors and provide books for them to take home.
Stories in the Park Fun Fair
August 2021 marked the second annual Stories in the Park Fun Fair. This event is an amazing combination of a club service project and reading action. Our Stories in the Park Fun Fair was first planned as a late summer activity in 2020. It was in response to Covid-19 to say THANK YOU to the children; to give them a new book and a fun time in the park. It consisted of Individual, low impact, non-competitive games such as bean bag toss, fish pond, side walk chalk games, mini putt, ring toss etc.; a free new book for every child; story reading at “The Story Tree” led by Lions and a local children's author; and, free hot dogs and popcorn and juice boxes. One of the most rewarding components was the participation by the community. The following sponsors and participants greatly enhanced the event: The Haliburton County Echo, Canoe FM, Moose FM, Emmerson Lumber, Fowler Construction, Haliburton County Public Library, Haliburton Highlands Museum, Ontario Provincial Police (Haliburton Detachment), Haliburton Fire Department, EarlyON – Early Years Centre, and the Turtle Guardians. Another exciting outcome of Stories in the Park was the participation of sixteen community members who assisted at the games. We now have a growing list we call “Friends of the Lions” to assist us when needed. In addition, addressing Covid-19 restrictions and protocols gave us all new understanding of such things as contact free food delivery, social distancing and contact tracing. As you can see, Stories in the Park Fun Fair has been a wonderful success and is quickly becoming a tried and true and well-established Haliburton Lions special project. And, on a final note, we were asked to share our Stories in the Park event and planning with a Lions Club in British Columbia. We were, of course, pleased to do so!
Free Books At Our Stories in the Park Fun Fair
Little Free Libraries
The Haliburton and District Lions Club are registered members of Little Free Libraries and have charters for two such libraries: one in West Guilford and one in The Enchanted Forest at Abbey Gardens. Our Little Free libraries were built and installed in 2017 and 2020 respectively and each year we continue to maintain and ensure books are available. While our Lions Little Free Library in West Guilford has an emphasis on children’s books, we also stock some adult novels at this location. In the Enchanted Forest all the books we provide are children’s books.
Here is some additional information on the nature and intent of Little Free Library organization:
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in Hudson, Wisconsin whose mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries. Little Free Libraries promotes neighborhood book exchange. More than 90,000 public book exchanges are registered with the organization and branded as dmLittle Free Libraries. Through Little Free Libraries, present in 91 countries, millions of books are exchanged each year, with the aim of increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds
One of Our Visiting Authors Pre-Covid
Books for Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents (Children’s’ Mental Health Agency)
Pint in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents (PinT) offers a wide range of supports and services to children, youth and families in Haliburton County. The Haliburton Lions Reading Action Program makes a yearly donation of approximately 20 books as part of Point in Time’s Sensitive Santa Initiative. This initiative provides an opportunity for children who may struggle with large spaces, loud music or waiting in line. This is a sensory friendly environment where the children can come to read books in a decorated area with Santam soft music and lightening. Although the event has been changed due to Covid restrictions, we are pleased that it continues to take place and that we will be able to ensure that each child has a new book to take home.
Books for YWCA – HERS (Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace)
HERS provides a unique safe space within Haliburton County so that women and their children can move away from the abusive situation in their home, without leaving their support systems, jobs and schools, families, and friends behind. The Haliburton Lions have created a book basket with new story books and activity books for children and gently used books for women. Currently HERS is not accepting books due to Covid. Our basket is full and ready to go as soon as restrictions are lifted.
New Reading Action Program Bookmark
Another new addition to our Reading Action Program has been the creation and distribution of a new bookmark. Historically, our club had developed a bookmark that was general in nature. The Reading Action Program Committee decided to create a bookmark more suited to children and to promoting our projects and initiatives. We will include our new bookmark in all the new books we give to children and will also use for
A Look Ahead and Concluding Remarks
The Haliburton Lions Children’s Christmas Party has been cancelled the last two years due to Covid-19. The Reading Action Program Committee will revisit this for next year. The event provided another venue to give children the opportunity to choose a new book to take home. While it was a fun and wonderful success for the children, attendance was low and it needs a close review and changes if it is to go ahead.
Children's Christmas Party Pre-Covid
A Donation to the Haliburton Public Library for the purchase of Maker Kits was yet another past project of the Reading Action Committee and although this year’s budget did not provide for a similar donation, the Reading Action Program Committee has requested the Haliburton Lions Club make a donation and the Committee will advise on how best to direct the funds to children’s programming / literacy. This will take place this year.
The Haliburton County Literary Arts Council is planning a Literacy Festival slated for the weekend of September 24, 2022, and we have been invited to participate. Our Reading Action Program is now well-known throughout the county, and we were pleased to receive this invitation. Our starting thoughts are to have a booth, a children’s publishing company and children’s author and a story reading circle. Lots of fun ahead as we solidify our participation!
Concluding Remarks: Our Reading Program Action Committee is small in numbers but mighty in achieved goals. With the support of all our Club members we have enjoyed much success and we are confident as we move forward more great things are still to come.
It is my honour and pleasure to serve as committee chair and to work with successful, creative and dedicated Lions.