The Town of Amherst played a small part recently in encouraging children to read when it donated more than 100 books to five community organizations that work with children.
The books themselves were donated to the town by the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation as part of their Summer Reading Matters program, which is dedicated to putting books in the hands of children in order to support a lifelong love of reading.
The donation to the town came about as a result of the town’s participation earlier this year in the Jays Care Foundation’s Girls at Bat program, which encourages girls to play baseball. The only condition the two foundations put on the donation was the town had to make sure the books got into the hands of children.
“We’re grateful to receive this donation of children’s books from the Jays Care Foundation and the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation because a child who has an appreciation for reading will become an engaged and imaginative adult,” Mayor David Kogon said.
“We’re also very pleased to donate these books to Maggie’s Place, the YReach program, the Multicultural Association of Cumberland, the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County and Autumn House. These organizations work closely with children and these books will help enhance the programs they offer our children and teens.”
The books included in the donation ranged from board books for newborns to novels aimed at keeping teens interested. They covered a variety of genres, but the primary focus of the books was inclusion, diversity and female empowerment.
The organizations were excited and pleased to receive the donation from the town and the two foundations.
“We have a resource lending library where people can come and borrow books. We like to have a variety of books, but our diversity section is pretty limited as far as children’s books or books aimed at young readers is concerned. This will help fill the gap and be a great addition to our library,” said Sarah MacMaster, executive director of Maggie’s Place.
Similarly, the sexual health centre also has a library that provides books and other resources to people of all ages, including young adolescents and teens.
“There are quite a few books here that cover areas around boundaries, healthy relationships and the importance of self-esteem,” Rene Ross, the centre’s executive director, said. “Youth learn in a variety of ways and story is one of the most important ways that they learn, especially about healthy relationships. So, this donation is great.”
As a result of her work with YReach and the multicultural association, HeeYeon Son interacts with many different people. She said it is rare to find books whose characters “reflect people from all over the world.”
“These books do, so it will be a great resource because people who come from around the world will see themselves represented in the books that we are receiving.”
Amanda Dynes said the books will help upgrade Autumn House’s library.
“The collection of books we currently have are straight out of the ’60s to ’80s,” she said. “It will be great to replenish it with books that allow the children and youth who come to the shelter to see themselves represented in a more meaningful and current way. It is a much-needed update to what we have available.”