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Burnaby Neighbourhood House distributes new and donated books in literacy hampers

By Vancouver Sun 

People in search of books have a friend in Burnaby Neighbourhood House. Twice a year, the community hub puts together what it calls “literacy hampers,” with books, colouring pages, activity sheets, and information in various languages on community resources.

“We purchase books from First Book Canada, and we get donations from libraries, although that ended with COVID,” said Lukas Park, Literacy Outreach Coordinator for Literacy Now Burnaby, a program at BNH. “My volunteer team and I sort through them and divide them into fiction and non-fiction. Once we have a fair amount of books we begin to distribute them.”

The hampers include three new books, but people can take home however many donated books they want.

“We’ve had people go home with boxes,” Park said. “One lady had left her library in her home country, and she spent an hour browsing through all of our books to restock her library in her new home. If people want books, we let them take as many as they want.”

The Sun’s Raise-a-Reader campaign, which has raised over $21 million since 1997, helps fund the purchase of the new books.

Other literacy initiatives at Burnaby Neighbourhood House include readings. Last year, Harman Pandher connected with Burnaby elementary school students to read from his book Gurpreet Goes to Gurdwara: Understanding the Sikh Place of Worship. The three live virtual readings were made possible through Raise-a-Reader funds.

“It shares my beliefs and culture as a Sikh,” Pandher said of the book.

The students were from diverse backgrounds, he says.

“There were some groups with no Sikh children at all, but they loved the story. I find that this book opens up so many discussions around common experiences and customs that we have in common. And we hear about each other’s traditions and the uniqueness of different faiths and cultures.”

He was impressed by the kids’ engagement.

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