Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Reading: New Year's Day


I love New Year’s Day!  No presents to wrap, rooms to clean or food to cook…  just me and a book.

I usually pick a fiction book for my New Year’s Day read, but this time I was curious about a new-to-me book called called Plague: One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism and Other Diseases (2014) by Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits.

The book chronicles Mikovits’ work over a 5 year period where she investigates the second retrovirus of her career, XMRV.  (The first was HIV.)  Her amazing journey starts with the creation of the Whittemore-Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease at the University of Nevada.  This part of her journey ends with her as a witness for the federal government against her former employer, Harvey Whittemore, for illegal campaign contributions. Along the way she encountered the prejudices surrounding Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), wandered into the minefield that is autism research, and struggled to maintain her faith in the profession to which she had dedicated her life.  She also published research regarding the retrovirus XMRV that linked it to CFS, prostate cancer, lymphoma, and eventually neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

Whom better than a research scientist to write about the state of the scientific research at present?  A second book to be released in March 2020 is titled Plague of Corruption: Restoring faith in the promise of science; one I will definitely pre-order and devour.  The next time I hear that "science" backs a claim, I will certainly think about Dr. Mikovits’ ongoing experiences, and adjust my enthusiasm accordingly.  I was already skeptical of "bias free research."  Reading the story of her personal experience opened my eyes to new ways multiple players can and do manipulate and influence what the public gets to hear and know about health science and research.




Cheryl Brown is co-creator of the Storytent and Bookwagon programs, QLNB's Community Literacy Coordinator, and long-time advocate for and facilitator of a variety of family literacy initiatives.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Reading: New Year's Eve


Texts shape us by reflecting the politics and values of our society.
     - Mem Fox


Happy 2020!  It’s a new year, and I have decided to document and share books I read, no matter the reason.

On the eve of 2020, I was out with some friends for a New Year’s Eve supper.  While talking about her grand-kids, one friend asked if I knew the book Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  She said she loved the strong female character portrayal, and she had just purchased a copy for her granddaughters.

 "Elizabeth" I said, in my best storytent voice, "was a beeuuuutiful princess…!”  Yes, I know this story.  I love this story.  I could quote whole passages, and I dressed up as the paperbag princess one Hallowe'en not long ago.

Listening to her talk about Munsch's book, I thought I heard her saying she wanted to provide her granddaughters stories with strong female characters.  I know this is an important idea for her:  She is a strong  female herself and so are her two daughters.

Later that evening, at home helping my 25-year old daughter pack (she's getting ready to move), I noted some of the picture books she'd chosen to keep on her bookshelf: The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman; The Paint Box by Maxine Trottier; and The Seventh Door by Michael Leach.  I sat down and re-read them to myself.  Here were more popular children's books with strong female characters.

Then I excitedly looked to my own picture book shelf to see what other titles my daughter and I might have read and held on to.  I found - and immediately re-read - The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash, Maxine’s Tree by Diane Carmel Legere, and Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.

I started to make a mental list of these books, thinking I would share the titles with my friend.  Then I went looking for pre-made lists online.

According to Goodreads, there are over 250 books with "strong, independent, resourceful female characters [f]or readers who are tired of reading about females only as family caretakers and/or as princesses who are rescued by a prince."  A site called  Amightygirl.com lists the "Top 100 Mighty Girl Books."  A site called Notimeforflashcards.com offers "Picture Books About Strong Girls."

Well, I couldn't read all these books before bedtime, but I was pleased to see The Paperbag Princess is on all three lists.  Go Elizabeth!  And that was how I read in the New Year.




Cheryl Brown is co-creator of the Storytent and Bookwagon programs, QLNB's Community Literacy Coordinator, and long-time advocate for and facilitator of a variety of family literacy initiatives.



Friday, October 18, 2019

Local Neighbourhood Literacy organization receives Canada Post Community Foundation support

On October 16, 2019 Canada Post Community Foundation presented $2000 to
Quality Learning NB for neighbourhood holiday literacy initiatives.
 L-R are:  Michele McGree, Local Area Supervisor; Chris Victory, Local Area Superintendent;
Cheryl Brown, Literacy Coordinator (QLNB);
Nancy Blizzard, Regional Area Manager; and Mary Hunter, Retail Clerk.

Quality Learning New Brunswick has received $2000.00 from the Canada Post Community Foundation for an important project in Saint John’s North End Neighbourhoods: The Holiday Book Giveaway.

Quality Learning New Brunswick is an organization led by volunteers that offers literacy supports families and communities request in order to make healthy choices.  This project grew out of relationships that were formed during Storytent events and programming in focus neighbourhoods.  “For various reasons, obtaining great children’s books that will facilitate the love and joy of reading can be challenging for many families,” says QLNB Storytent Worker Wendell Dryden.   “We were first asked to read stories or do puppet shows at neighbourhood association’s Christmas parties, and over the years, the project has become what it is now:  we add new books to the gift giving for all the children in attendance, and provide open-ended pro-literacy activities during neighbourhood events in December.  In another neighbourhood, we add new books for each child to Family Christmas Boxes provided by Rivercross Mission.” Book ownership is an important part of a young child’s reading development journey.  Janet McLaughlin, President of the Crescent Valley Community Tenant’s Association, indicates that “We are very excited to get the books at Christmas and at other times of the year.  We get most of our children’s books from these types of events.”  Last year this project saw more than 250 books go home with children from birth – 12, and the Canada Post grant will help reach even more children this year.

Canada Post: “Canada Post is proud to help organizations and projects that make a difference in the lives of Canadian children and youth.  Through the generosity of our customers, the Canada Post Community Foundation is able to fund important programs in communities across the country every year.”



About the Canada Post Community Foundation

The Canada Post Community Foundation for Children’s vision is to help ensure every child in Canada is happy, healthy and part of a community that supports and cares for them. Its mission is to have a positive effect in the lives of children in the communities Canada Post serves by supporting registered charities, school programs or local initiatives that benefit children. It has granted more than $8 million to over 750 community organizations across Canada. To learn more about the Foundation, visit canadapost.ca/community.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Event Tents - 2019

Man reads to boy
We've wrapped up our 2019 Event Storytents for the summer.  This year's Community Literacy Project saw us visiting Fredericton Junction, Browns Flat, Grand Bay-Westfield, Campobello Island and several Saint John parks and neighbourhoods; four urban and four suburban / rural communities.

We believe a storytent can enhance a community fair, a school festival, or an organization’s summer picnic, and also send a positive message about literacy.  Effective event tents promote a reading culture.  They demonstrate that reading can happen anywhere.  They encourage children and families to keep books and reading in their quality pictures of a fun outing.  As well, they provide a way to promote or outreach additional services; or to gauge interest in new programming.

We met 370 children and adults over the eight events, and were able to give away 770 quality New Brunswick books for children and families; books written and illustrated by New Brunswickers as part of a project undertaken by the University of New Brunswick.


Major support for this 2019 Quality Storytent Project came from the Province of New Brunswick, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, and the Province of New Brunswick, Department of Social Development.  Additional funding was provided through private donors.





Thursday, August 8, 2019

Brundage Point River Centre Little Free Library Grand Opening

Local youth Keegan (far left) and Chase (far right) join (L-R)  MLA for Kings Centre
Hon. Bill Oliver, Quality Learning New Brunswick representative Wendell Dryden
and Grand Bay-Westfield Mayor Grace Losier in cutting the ribbon
and officially opening the Brundage Point Little Free Library.

Quality Learning New Brunswick is very pleased to partner with the Town of Grand Bay-Westfield to create a Little Free Library at the Brundage Point River Centre to make borrowing books more fun and accessible for families in this neighbourhood.  Funded by the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, with the Saint John Free Public Library as a partner, this Little Free Library can house approximately 50 books for patrons of all ages.  With no fees or fines, patrons are encouraged to take a book, and bring it back when they’re done.

According to the Little Free Library Organization
Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.
Having access to books is an important factor is learning to read and in keeping up your reading skills.






The Grand Opening of the Brundage Point Little Free Library took place on Wednesday, Aug 7, 2019 at the Brundage Point River Centre Playground.  Mayor Grace Losier and Hon. Bill Oliver, MLA were on hand to deliver messages and stories of inter-generational reading and to cut the ribbon. We had a lovely donation of several books from a local resident, and Mayor Grace donated a copy of  Abigail Eats Bugs by Grand Bay-Westfield resident Virginia Pye.  Local residents Pat and Keegan were the first to borrow after the opening.






 




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hallowe'en 2018

Can you guess which children's book's characters we were this year?

One hundred and eighty-six books and journals given out at Trunk-'R-Treat - one of our favourite family literacy events of the year.



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Quality Storytents 2018: Multi-Neighbourhood Community Literacy

Our major 2018 Community Literacy Project consisted of eight event-based storytents (five urban and three suburban/rural) as well as free books for children and families.

We believe a storytent can enhance a community fair, a school festival, or an organization’s summer picnic, and also send a positive message about literacy.  Effective event tents can promote a reading culture.  They demonstrate that reading can happen anywhere.  They encourage children and families to keep books and reading in their quality pictures of a fun outing.  As well, they provide a way to promote or outreach additional services; or to gauge interest in new programming.

In 2018 we ran storytents at

  • Celebration Sunday, RiverCross Church (Saint John)
  • Brown’s Flat Days, River Road Hub (Brown's Flat)
  • Passport2Parks, Rockwood (Saint John)
  • Canada Day Celebrations, Brundage Point (Grand Bay - Westfield)
  • Passport2Parks, Chown Field (Saint John)
  • 50th Anniversary Celebration, South End Daycare (Saint John)
  • Crescent Valley Fun Days, Crescent Valley Community Tenet’s Association (Saint John)
  • Come Home Week, Tri-County Complex (Fredericton Junction)

We met 169 adults and 226 children over these eight events.  We were also able to distribute 80 packages of Books for Children and Families, a New Brunswick authored collection of 10 books for pre-school children and their families developed by the University of New Brunswick.

Major support for 2018 Quality Storytent Project came from the Province of New Brunswick, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and the Province of New Brunswick, Department of Social Development.  Additional funding was provided through private donors.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Quality Storytents 2018: Anglin Drive


We were pleased to offer storytents on Anglin Drive again this year.  Tents ran for an hour and a half on Tuesdays over a six week period.  Twenty-five children - with attendance ranging from 6 to 18 children per session - recorded a total of 260 books read.  Many of these children were already patrons of the small community library in the the Anglin Drive Tenant's Association building, and we will be keeping the this library open throughout the fall and winter as part of our ongoing partnership with the Association.

Additional support and partnering for this project came from the City of Saint John, the New Brunswick Department of Social Development, and the Saint John Free Public Library.