Investing in the gift of reading

By Nahanni Fontaine, MLA for St. John

As published in The Times February 10, 2017

Sometimes on these cold winter nights, there is nothing better than snuggling up with a warm cup of tea and a nice book.

Because February is I Love to Read Month, right now is a particularly great time to be digging out some of your favourite stories.

I Love to Read Month is a great opportunity to promote reading and writing in schools and use literacy to empower our children. Reading and writing are skills crucial to preparing children for their futures, and giving them the tools to make a difference in our communities.

This is my first I Love to Read Month as an MLA and I am so excited and honoured to visit classrooms and read some of my favourite stories to students. I kicked off the month by reading to the daycare at Strathcona School and the kids at Elwick Community School. I’ve got many visits planned, and am looking for more! If you are a teacher in St. Johns who would like me to visit their classroom and donate some new books please email my office at Nahanni.Fontaine@leg.gov.mb.ca

This month, I’ve selected some excellent books by Native American, First Nations and Inuit authors including Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk, and Mama Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse. I was pleased to buy several copies of Secret Path, a graphic novel by The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie and illustrator Jeff Lemire which tells the tragic true story of a young Indigenous boy who froze to death attempting to escape from residential school. The novel is a haunting reminder of the destruction of colonialism, and is an excellent platform to teach our children about Canada’s dark history.

Reading is an important tool for a child’s successful future. Our government must make the right investments in Manitoba classrooms, so teachers have the resources they need to give every child the chance to succeed. This latest education budget has cut spending for public schools, which will reduce resources for students with complex needs and older students transitioning into the workforce.

I want to hear your concerns and ideas to improve education for our children. Please visit my office at 1763 Main St., or call me at 204-582-1550. You can also stay connected with me on Twitter @NahanniFontaine