Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Because Words Really DO Matter...

Tonight was SO amazing that I almost don’t know where to begin! I’m down to the last 3 illustrations for the book, including the huge double page spread for the centre of the book (which really should count for 2...) and feeling a bit frantic with the deadline for getting everything to the printers for September 6th.

Nick got free tickets to EVENINGSIDE tonight, in the tradition of Peter Gzowski to help raise funds for literacy before the PGI tournament here in Moncton tomorrow. We got the girls favourite baby sitter to come over early so that Nick and I could sneak out for a quick sushi fix before the show started. It was held at the Capitol Theatre downtown, a beautifully restored old theatre and the variety of the program would have made Peter Gzowski proud. For those of you who aren’t Canadians, Peter was a very famous broadcaster , reporter and writer who hosted the CBC radio show MORNINGSIDE for many years. Mr. Canada was a fixture on the radio every morning for many of us growing up. 20 years ago, he got together with a couple of friends and held a golf tournament to raise money for and awareness about literacy. Moncton has actually raised the most money of any city in Canada with its yearly tournament, far more than cities many times its size such as Toronto or Vancouver. It was truly a night to celebrate our cultural diversity and our community’s generosity.

I am such a voracious reader, and I learned to read so early, that for many years, I truly did not grasp what problems those who cannot read face each and every day of their lives. I simply could not imagine someone not wanting to, or even not being able to, curl up with a good book and escape. Let’s face it... I was a reading snob!

Then along came my daughter, Bethany. Unlike her older sister, Bethany showed little interest in reading and putting letters, sounds or words together. This could have had something to do with the fact that Erin, four years older and eager to prove her superiority, would always jump in and read the word before Bethany was halfway through sounding out the first syllable! Suddenly, I could see that to learn to read was harder for some than others. At one point I despaired that Bethany would never read well in English before she went into Grade 1 Immersion... and then the reading bug bit! While she prefers to read Neopets magazines and the text in the Harvest Moon games, she will also pull out a picture book now and then to curl up with.

What must it be like to not love and revere the written word? What must it be like to be terrified that someone will ask you to read something and your secret will be out?? Tonight’s fundraiser and tomorrow’s tournament are all about helping others to learn to read.

What a night it was!! From the comedy of our local Hubcap Comedy Troop and Laura Earl to incredible readings by New Brunswick’s Lieutenant Governor the Honorable Herménégilde Chiasson and Myriam Cyr to incredible music by Blues master Marc-André Léger, Oumou Soumaré’s African songs and 3 songs by Canadian Idol Top 5 finalist Casey LeBlanc I’m not sure how loudly Erin will squeal when she wakes up tomorrow morning and finds the autographed copy of the new album from Braided . Erin is determined to audition for Canadian Idol as soon as she turns 16. It was fun for Casey to be back at the Capitol Theatre because that was where she auditioned for the show in the first place!

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the readings by Peter Mansbridge and local radio host Rhonda Whittaker. They read some of the letters that Canadians has written in to Peter’s Morningside show over the years and shared stories about how important literacy became to him once a guest shared what a problem illiteracy was more than 20 years ago.

It was fun to meet him after the evening was over. I was wearing my 3” heels and I think he was a bit surprised at having to look up to Nick and I. He’s fairly tall himself, incredible well spoken and generous in carrying on this wonderful tradition in Peter’s memory.

Those of you who read this blog are not the ones who need help, but I am thinking about creating a special dragon with a book to add to the sample page of our website once things calm down a bit. Those who attend my classes at the CSNF in October will probably be the first to get their claws on this as a class treat, but I think it is important to create something to raise awareness, celebrate a love of reading and of course urge people to read to a child or volunteer their time to help someone learn to read.

6 comments:

Kim said...

What a fabulous fundraiser you got to go to! I have always been someone with a book in her hand, too. It always amazes me that there are still people that cannot read or do not wish to read...and a dragon with a book sounds awesome! :D

Anonymous said...

When I was in Elementary school I thought that everyone had wall to wall books at their house. My parents loved to read and had books about everything. I never had to go to the library to do reports, I just used the books that we had. I remember being so surprised when a teacher gave us vocabulary words to take home and write down the definitions and some kids said that they didn't have a dictionary at home.

Mire said...

While always a good reader, growing up, I didn't become an avid reader until the age of 19. I can't imagine not having a book with me anymore.

A reading dragon! Please! I'll just have to stitch it up for the school library.

You've done reading themes before. I just looked through my old files. I still have your Bookworm chart, and then there's "Time Well Spent".

I really need to find time to stitch again...

Geri said...

I remember Peter ... And I remember realizing that I could read, I was in Grade one and read everything I could find ... even the back of the cereal box. :)

I'm very aware that in our schools (I live in Alberta) they have the older classes reading with the younger classes ... and they have adults come in and spend time with the children who are having a harder time reading. It always fills my heart when I see these little groups of people reading ...

Maybe your special dragon could be helping another dragon read a book ... you'll come up with something great, I just know it ...

Thanks again for allowing us into the 'inner sanctum' ... I always find that seeing into a person helps so much in opening up the world to me ... I hope that doesn't sound crazy ... I just feel priviledged to meet people who are looking at the world in a different way ...

Now I'll go ... take care.

Erin said...

Jen, that sounds like such fun! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I am with you, I simply cannot fathom how someone can make it in this world without being able to read, but many do it on a daily basis.

Birdie said...

It sounds like you had a great time. But I know what you are talking about. My middle son had trouble reading and with much work he is now a huge reader and he is 26. My youngest is only 13, but a huge reader as well and a lover of dragons. So, I am really looking forward to this sweet dragon you are talking about.