Friday, November 18, 2016

Quality Storytents 2016

quality storytent in martinon

Now that Trunk or Treat is finished, it's time to sum up the 2016 Quality Storytents project.

This year we partnered with many organizations, both old and new, to provide programming and event tents across the city.

Summer Reading Club outreach Nick Nicolle

Plans for the Old North End neighbourhood changed a little to better accommodate their summer programs. Rather than a traditional outdoor storytent, we delivered a Summer Reading Club launch and book give-away, and followed up with four family literacy sessions, delivered once weekly in the "Lobby Library."

These sessions adopted the 2016 Summer Reading Club theme Explore!/Explorez! and provided a weekly reading time with family activities grouped around the five SRC themes Dinosaurs, Vikings, Knights, Pirates and Astronauts.

Working with the Department of Social Development, we piloted the tent in a neighbourhood with a significant proportion of Syrian families. This turned out to be very exciting. Tents ran for five weeks on the common green space managed by Social Development as part of their Public Housing program. Families requested books in English, French and Arabic (which we were able to provide). Some adults sought our support while reading to their children in an unfamiliar language. Children engaged in writing activities; imitating worker’s note-taking and, on occasion commandeering and repurposing workers’ notebooks.

These kids love writing and drawing. I think they’ve commandeered every piece of paper we’ve got, all our pens and pencils, and my glasses. We’ll bring the writing box next week for sure.
- Worker Field Notes

storytent in the rain

Also on Saint John’s East Side, we ran nine weekly Storytents beside the Nason Road playground in partnership with the Silver Falls Community Association.

“I can read this one all by myself now – my mom read it twice and now I can read it,” says one girl. She proceeds to ‘read’ Mortimer to me. Then she picks up Yummy Yucky. “I know how to read this one.” A few weeks ago she was talking about how she was having problems reading the [very low level] Dog book.
- Worker Field Notes

storytent at rockwood park

 We also delivered nine event storytents.

At the Reservoir tent a mom read to her children and then talked with me briefly about the challenges and joys of reading to her children. I listened and co-verified. She said, “Thanks for being here. Thanks for listening. I needed to have that with a mom.”
- Worker Field Notes

Boy makes a short stack of books already read to him. "This is our empty one."
- Worker Field Notes

The Teddy Bear Picnic proceeded as usual. We read to children once they received their new book (and stuffed animal and snack). I put out several good books as an invitation to the children to continue reading. One little boy put the books in a row and each time we finished, he would choose the next one using ‘eenie meenie.’ In this manner, he read all the books. Allowing children to choose which books they read is an important part of our process.
-Workers Field Notes

The impact of event tents is hard to measure given that there is rarely any borrowing and our opportunities for engagement are limited. Nonetheless, our field notes record positive signs. We have notes of families making reading part of their day at the park or the beach. We have notes about parents asking questions and sharing ideas. We have notes of children exploring books and reading in a more playful way than they might expect to be able to when at school. We have notes of community partners saying “That was wonderful” and “I hope you can come back next year.”

At Trunk or Treat, one mother told us that she and her child read last year’s T’orT’ book “over and over”. They were pleased to receive another book by the same author. Another girl told her mom, “I’m so glad they’re giving away books again;” a key marker of the successful promotion of literacy and love of reading among families and young children.

Adult: Excuse me, is your name 'Wendell'?
Wendell: Yep.
Adult: I have your book for you. You gave it to me a couple of years ago to get my GED.
Wendell: Oh hey! Did you get it?
Adult: What?
Wendell: Did you get your GED?
Adult: Yeah. I got it.
(Hands us a Steck-Vaugn GED Preparation book. It's a little beaten up.)
Adult: Sorry.
Wendell: Hey, no. No problem.
Adult: Thanks.
Wendell: Thank you.
The books we lend almost always come back; just not right away.
- Worker Field Notes

The 2016 Storytent Program was full of surprises. We did not expect to be receiving returned GED textbooks, purchasing children’s books in Arabic, delivering tents on Roxbury Drive, or joining the District Labour Council at Rockwood Park. Nonetheless we were pleased overall, as were our partners.

Project Sponsors:

  • Province of New Brunswick
  • Saint John Free Public Library

Project Partners and Hosts:

  • C. E. Nick Nicolle Center
  • City of Saint John
  • Crescent Valley Resource Centre
  • Martinon Community Centre
  • New Brunswick Department of Social Development
  • Rivercross Church
  • Saint John and District Labour Council
  • Saint John Free Public Library
  • Silver Falls Community Association

Additional support for our book give-aways came from the Peter Gzowski Invitational, Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trunk or Treat

QLNB got to hang out with the Rivercross Mission gang again this year at their Trunk or Treat on Hallowe'en.  Like last year, we came as two of our favourite children's book characters - Gerald and Piggy.  We brought along our bookwagon, and handed out 140 books.

It was cold, but we were warmed by the chance to reconnect with some neighbourhood friends.  It was especially nice to hear families say they were glad to see us again this year.  Giving out good quality books at Trunk or Treat is becoming one of our favorite fall activities.