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  • Books make babies grow

    Whistler Writer’s Festival will match up to five hundred dollars in picture book donations to the Lil’wat Nation

    By Nicole Fitzgerald

    My two-year-old daughter cries. We give her a book. She fusses bored at a doctor’s office. We give her a book. I want to go running. She reads to pass the time in her stroller. And her love of books is only growing with our bookcases.

    Where this love of reading comes from is no secret. She had no choice. The books were on the wall. Walk into any room in our home and there is a bookshelf. The bottom row (now growing from one to two) is dedicated to picture books within reach of little chubby hands. There are touch and feel books. The grate of a semi-truck trailer is scratched smooth. There are counting books. Her favourite is a Dr. Seuss where she can count out plastic coloured fishes on top. There are alphabet books and animal books. Outer space and Nascar. Her books of choice change with her mood and developmental stages. Our bookshelves are ready and waiting to meet any of her needs – and if not, there is always our local library only a seven-minute drive away.

    Every child deserves to have his or her mind and imagination nourished from a young age. Numerous studies have shown a reading child like my daughter will have an easier time at school as well. Reading fosters listening, vocabulary and memory skills. And a love of books that will last a lifetime. It also further cultivates the bond between child and parent. And the sooner this process begins, the brighter a child’s future shines.

    And so the Whistler Writer’s Festival is reaching out to kids even before they’ve come into this world. The festival has joined in the efforts of a group of mothers to collect picture books for parents with babies and toddlers who are not in school yet and may live in remote communities where libraries are not easily accessed. The Books for Babes program distributes picture books to families as early as pregnancy in the hopes of creating a lifelong love of reading.

    Secondhand picture books have been collected. And festival founder Stella Harvey has generously opened the door to contributing new picture books to the stockpile. For every picture book donated at this year’s festival, the donation will be matched with another new picture book – up to five hundred dollars in total.

    If attendees forget to bring a book, Armchair Books will make donating easy. Picture books will be available for purchase at satellite bookstores set up at festival events October 15-18 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

    This year’s books will benefit the Lil’wat Nation, a First Nations community located thirty-minutes north of Whistler in Mount Currie. Whistler is also part of the Lil’wat Nation’s traditional territory.

    The Whistler Writer’s Festival seeks to cultivate young readers through a variety of programs. The Authors in the Schools program brings local, First Nations and Canadian authors into Sea to Sky Corridor schools to give presentations on storytelling and what it’s like to be a writer. The schools are also given a class set of books, a much-needed resource for both students and teachers.

    So please donate picture books at this year’s festival. One single book can go a long way. Every child deserves to own a book of his or her own. Books make babies grow.