Welcome to the January 2016 edition of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick newsletter. We've got some updates about the organization, news related to literacy in New Brunswick and much more. There are lots of exciting things happening at The Coalition; here are a few updates! 
Help us make our vision a reality!

Literacy Coalition Update

We can't believe it's been a month already! Here's some important information from the Literacy Coalition:

Family Literacy Day

January 27th is family literacy day! This is a great occasion to raise the awareness of the importance of engaging in family literacy activities and also celebrating the programs that work with families and promote family literacy

We're celebrating Family Literacy Day by donating books to children at the Family Resource Centre, and also to the Fredericton Multicultural Association! 

For more information about Family Literacy Day, click here.

Facebook Page

Want to keep up with the LCNB on a regular basis? Be sure to check out our Facebook page for regular updates about the Coalition, and lots of great articles, stories, professional development opportunities and more! 

Peter Gzowski Invitational Literacy Dinner

Our PGI Literacy Dinner will be held in early April and is quickly approaching.

The Peter Gzowski Invitational (PGI) events for literacy are major fundraising events held in every province and territory. TheLiteracy Coalition of New Brunswick has raised more than $1.6 million dollars for literacy since the inception of PGI in NB.

Keep your eyes open and be sure to check out our website and social media pages for information on ticket sales, fundraising events and more!

In The News

There's been lots of literacy news in the past month, including the following article from The Daily Gleaner featuring our acting executive director, Lynda Homer, and President, Frank Hayes!

Focus on family literacy Jan. 27

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) 
Tue Jan 26 2016 
Lori Gallagher 


Literacy is about more than being able to read. It includes financial literacy, effective communication and critical thinking.

"It really determines the quality of our life in so very many ways," says Lynda Homer, acting executive director of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick.

Literacy has an impact on how well we learn, on our education and our future, even on our interpersonal relationships.

"Today's world requires high levels of literacy," she says. "It's important to be literate not only in reading the word but in reading the world, being critical and savvy users and communicators on multiple levels."

The Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick is joining other organizations across the country in highlighting the importance of literacy on Family Literacy Day, taking place Jan. 27.

"Family Literacy Day is really just an occasion to raise the awareness of the importance of engaging in family literacy activities and also celebrating the programs that work with families and promote family literacy," says Homer.

There are activities planned across Canada, including some in New Brunswick.

"The Literacy Coalition is actually using this day to donate some books to the Family Resource Centre, so we'll be over visiting the program and parents and children and giving out these books for Family Literacy Day," she says. "We'll also be making a donation to the Multicultural Association (of Fredericton). We're going to let them choose from the books that we have and have something that they can give to the children who attend those programs, and the parents as well."

She hopes that Family Literacy Day raises awareness about the importance of everyday family literacy learning opportunities and inspires people to find a way to fit literacy learning into their daily life.

"It could be anything - reading and writing, playing games and engaging in conversations. Conversations are almost the most important part that surrounds literacy activities," says Homer. "Sing a song. Follow a recipe. Something I think is really important in today's world are the family literacy opportunities around using digital media, and that means doing things together."

She notes that literacy encompasses a whole lot more than reading these days.

"It's really about communicating and understanding, and not only receiving, but being able to communicate you own message and being a full participant in society," she says.

Critical thinking is key, as it's more than just reading the words in front of you. You also need to understand what's behind the message. That's true for young and old alike.

"Literacy and family literacy is not only about children. It's about the whole spectrum. We're always developing our literacies, from birth to grave," she says. "We do have to be able to not just read the word but be able to synthesize, to size things up and to make some good judgements. That's very critical today."

Think, for example, about all the information available through social media.

"We really have to be creative and critical consumers of the message," says Homer.

Family Literacy Day is the a great fit for the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick as the non-profit organization works towards creating a culture of learning and advancing literacy in the province.

"We bring people together who are involved with and interested in literacy. That's one of our strengths, I believe. Some of the literacy activities going on in New Brunswick we've helped to fund through our Peter Gzowski Invitational, that's an annual event that's coming up in April," she says, referring to the fundraising literacy dinner on April 11.

Frank Hayes is president of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick's volunteer board.

"I think that we're trying to raise the level of consciousness in New Brunswick with regard to the power of literacy. In essence, the economy of New Brunswick and its productivity is driven by a knowledgeable work force," he says. "In order to achieve that, we have to ensure that we emphasize literacy as soon as children breach the womb and as they continue on through their schooling years."

The board has 12 members from across the province representing different associations, he says.

"Largely one can say that each of the board members believes that literacy makes a difference and, in a knowledge age, if we underscore the importance of literacy and we worked to improve the literacy level of New Brunwickers, we're going to improve the productivity of this province," he says.

As a professor of global politics at the University of New Brunswick, Hayes brings a unique perspective to the discussion as he's seen evidence of the impact literacy can have.

"Take a South East Asian country like Singapore, for example. In 1960 when it gained its independence, Singapore was a third world nation. It was a nation of about a million and a half people living largely in poverty," he says. "Today, Singapore has the highest productivity of any nation amongst the 230 nations in the world and that's supported by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data."

This dramatic change occurred under the stewardship of the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who put the focus on literacy and learning.

"The thrust being if the population became more knowledgeable and had more skills, then they would attract industry, they would attract foreign investment and they would generate greater productivity," he says.

This proved to be true for Singapore. It's examples like this that led Hayes to volunteer with the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick. He believes what will help make us more competitive is generating a higher level of knowledge amongst our youth.

Homer hopes people find their own ways to mark Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27.

"It's doing something together and thinking about learning and having fun. It's just recognizing and celebrating the opportunities," she says. "I know that families are busy. It's not necessarily about taking so much extra time, but looking at what can be done every day, that fits into daily life. It's different for every family."

To learn more about the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick, visit For ideas of what you and your family can do to mark Family Literacy Day or to promote literacy every day, visit family-literacy.

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)

For additional literacy news, click below.



Talk with Me program leads to great literary success

Times & Transcript (Moncton) 

Mon Jan 25 2016 

Anglophone East School District 


The Report Card appears weekly and is written by staff, administrators and partners of the Anglophone East School District. This week's column is written by Marie-Marthe Collette, Speech Language Pathologist.

This fall, the Anglophone East School District's Talk With Me Program was selected as one of 22 international sites to pilot the Hanen I'm Ready! Program for Building Early Literacy in the Home. The Toronto-based Hanen Center is a recognized worldwide leader in the creation of evidenced-based train-the-trainer programs that focus on helping build optimal language and literacy skills in preschool children.

As the Talk With Me Program's mandate is also to help families understand how to build preschool language and literacy skills, the staff welcomed the opportunity to participate in the piloting of this new program.

Studies have shown that children who start school with higher levels of early literacy skills have greater academic success. Since parents are a child's most important teacher, the Hanen group hoped to demonstrate that both parents and children benefit when parents are shown fun, simple strategies that encourage the fostering of skills that are related to later reading success.

For the pilot, 10 families participated in six weeks of training. During each two hour session parents learned easy to apply strategies that allowed them to turn book reading into a conversation, to increase vocabulary knowledge, to build understanding of stories and to increase understanding of how print works. After learning a new strategy, parents then practised applying it while reading to their child.

Participants provided a pre and post video of themselves reading with their child to measure changes that occurred as a result of the training. Post-training videos clearly showed that all families made significant gains in the use of strategies that are known to foster language and literacy skills. Parents were noted to be more responsive to their children's interests, to ask questions that help build thinking and reasoning skills and to find opportunities to build better understanding of the story and new vocabulary. It was also apparent that the children were more actively involved in the reading process. The children spoke more, asked and answered more questions and demonstrated more awareness to print and letter-sound association.

Most importantly of all, the parents and children appeared to have more fun reading together.

Parents' feedback on how they and their child were impacted by the program was overwhelmingly positive. Comments, such as the following, showed just how effective the training was for all those involved.

"This program really shifted how I read to my child. I now read with him not to him," says one participant.

Another parent said they would not have been aware that their child was ready for more of a challenge when it comes to reading.

"I learned that I can challenge my child more than I have been. Her interest in print has increased. She uses sophisticated vocabulary that blows me away until I remember we read it in a book."

The Talk With Me team judged the program a great success and we hope this training will become a regular offering in 2016 as it is rare to see 12 hours of training (one two hour session per week for six weeks) make such a big difference for families.

It was encouraging to see how well the parents and children responded to the training and how quickly significant changes occurred as an added bonus we know the children will reap a lifetime of benefits.

If you are interested in learning more about the free programs offered through the Talk With Me program please call 856-3617 or email

© 2016 Times & Transcript (Moncton)


Everyone can help in literacy battle

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) 

Mon Jan 25 2016 



Two weeks ago, Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau issued a challenge at the launch of her campaign to improve New Brunswick's literacy rate.

It's called the Lieutenant-Governor's 20-hour Challenge. The lieutenant-governor wants New Brunswickers to give 20 hours - two hours per week for 10 weeks - to read with students who are struggling with literacy.

Ms. Roy-Vienneau has done more than issue a call to arms; she has joined the fight on the front lines. Last week she and her husband took the Elementary Literacy Friend training, which gives them to tools to work with Grade 2 students across the province. Ms. Roy-Vienneau will be volunteering at francophone schools, while Ronald Vienneau will help out at anglophone schools.

What can get lost in the din about the education system being unable to produce more fluently bilingual students is the fact far too many students aren't literate in their first language.

Twenty-three per cent of Grade 2 students failed to meet the expected reading level on provincial literacy assessments last fall. That, however, isn't the worst news. New Brunswick has long struggled to bring up its literacy rate and the results of late aren't encouraging. Last fall's result is up one percentage point over the year before and seven percentage points over 2010, when only 16 per cent of student failed to read at an acceptable level.

The francophone community has little to celebrate either. About 25 per cent of students failed to meet the standard for reading silently and out loud.

The provincial government's goal is to get that number down to 10 per cent.

It should be apparent to everyone by now government isn't going to solve this problem on its own, and depending on what happens in the provincial budget next week, teachers could be in need of more help than ever.

By taking the Elementary Literacy Inc. training, the lieutenant-governor and Mr. Vienneau have become part of the solution of a problem that affects every New Brunswicker.

Study after study has shown the impact illiteracy has not only on individuals, but the communities in which they live. On a personal level, finding a job becomes incredibly difficult, and getting promoted even more so. Illiterate people are also more likely to get hurt at work and take longer to recover thanks to misuse of medication.

On top of the host of professional implications, there are personal consequences, namely feeling isolated thanks to low self-esteem.

As for wider implications, a workforce with literacy issues makes it difficult for a company to grow. People who struggle to, or can't, read and write are far more likely to be unemployed, and the far-reaching consequences of a high unemployment rate are also well documented. The above-mentioned health issues are something all taxpayers end up paying for.

The sooner children who need a little extra help with reading and writing can get it, the better off everyone will be. A couple hours a week is a small investment, but the reward is life-changing.

We applaud the lieutenant-governor and Mr. Vienneau for taking an active role in solving this problem. There isn't a school in New Brunswick that couldn't benefit from having a few people spend time reading one on one with struggling students.

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)


Literacy goals set at Saint John gala

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Sat Jan 23 2016 

Rebecca Watson 


SAINT JOHN * Students and teachers from 10 Saint John area schools, politicians, educators and literacy supporters, filled the ballroom of the Delta Brunswick Hotel for a sold-out dinner fundraiser hosted by Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John.

The event aimed to heighten awareness for Saint John's continued literacy problems, and to show the community that something can be done about it.

At the dinner, Roxanne Fairweather, co-chair of Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John, announced Achieve Literacy's next goal: to have 90 per cent of students read at grade level by 2017.

Spreading the importance of early reading, raising funds for new books and varied texts, and generating more volunteers for the city's PALS, ELF and CLEF programs, was the reason behind the event, said Erin Schryer, executive director of Elementary Literacy.

"So, if we know children who are struggling in their early years with reading are likely to have these outcomes as adults, it's incumbent on all of us to do as much as we can to ensure they achieve reading success," she said. "Whether thats in school, a non profit group, business leaders, there's a role we can all play and there are things each of us can do."

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)


Achieve Literacy strives for 90% reading at grade level by 2017

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Fri Jan 22 2016 

Rebecca Watson 


SAINT JOHN * About 60 per cent of children who do not read at grade level by Grade 2 mature into adults who cannot achieve their potential, says Roxanne Fairweather, co-chair of Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John.

"You learn to read, then read to learn," she said during an Achieve Literacy banquet on Wednesday. "If children cannot decode words, understand context and interpret meaning, their trajectory in any other subject is undermined."

Students and teachers from 10 Saint John area schools, politicians, educators and literacy supporters, filled the ballroom of the Delta Brunswick Hotel for the sold-out dinner fundraiser aimed at heightening awareness for Saint John's continued literacy problems.

More than half of New Brunswick adults have low literacy skills and the province as a whole sits second to last nationally in literacy scores.

It means that after Grade 2, those kids who are challenged by reading are more likely to struggle through school, more likely to be underemployed as adults and very likely to become a strain on our social system later in life, said Jocelyne Roy Vienneau, lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick.

"Reading at a young age is crucial to their futures and our province's future," she said at the event. "So (my husband and I) have promised to give two hours a week for the next 10 weeks to help children discover a love of reading."

Vienneau then asked the audience to lead by example, challenging everyone in the room to join her as an ELF/CLEF volunteer.

"Just 20 hours to make a difference in the lives of young children," she said. "Twenty hours to help make a difference in the future of our province, and if we can do it I, think you can do it too."

Following Vienneau's speech, Fairweather announced Achieve Literacy's next goal - to have 90 per cent of students able to read at grade level by 2017.

Right now, 77 per cent of students in the province read at grade level, that is up from 69 per cent a year ago. It will take all of us to get the curve up to 90, she said.

"The absolute joy when children begin to get it, when it clicks in, it is palpable, it is magic," she said. "And it's magic every child deserves."

Simply put, books teach you things, said Isabell Daigle, 7, from Champlain Heights Elementary School.

"It's fun to read and books teach you things about the author, how to spell words and other things," said the articulate second grader. "And reading helps you when you have to fill out contracts."

The night's master of ceremonies, Costas Halavrezos, former CBC host originally from Saint John, said he was impressed by what Achieve Literacy Saint John has already done for the community in terms of recruiting volunteers and tracking success.

"It's not just specialists, the whole model involves getting people involved as volunteers in concert with education officials and school boards.

So that has sometimes been a barrier in the past, not just here but a lot of places, it's been left to the professionals but they've realized this is critical and (they) need the extra help with trained volunteers."

France Maillet, principal of École Samuel-de-Champlain school, was at the event to explore new ways to improve literacy at his own school, he said.

"Literacy is important for each child to function in anything," he said. "As well, with the immigrants coming in, sometimes literacy is a challenge."

"We have a lot of students who have one French parent and one English parent and sometimes literacy and vocabulary can be a challenge for those children as well."

Spreading the importance of early reading, raising funds for new books and varied texts, and generating more volunteers for the city's PALS, ELF and CLEF programs, was the reason behind the event, said Erin Schryer, executive director of Elementary Literacy.

"So if we know children who are struggling in their early years with reading are likely to have these outcomes as adults, it's incumbent on all of us to do as much as we can to ensure they achieve reading success," she said. "Whether thats in school, a non profit group, business leaders, there's a role we can all play and there are things each of us can do."

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)


New Brunswick's lieutenant-governor to tutor elementary students in reading, promote literacy

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) 

Thu Jan 21 2016 

Rebecca Howland 


New Brunswick's lieutenant-governor is now an ELF.

Make that an Elementary Literacy Friend.

Lt.-Gov. Jocelyn Roy-Vienneau and her husband Ronald Vienneau took part in literacy training to volunteer with the Elementary Literacy Friends of New Brunswick on Wednesday.

"Literacy is one of (the) causes I identified when I was installed as lieutenant-governor and I was trying to find one tangible thing that I can do for literacy," she said on Wednesday after her training session. "I was quite surprised and amazed by this program and we talked about and we decided 'well, what a good idea to be involved in that program.' It's only 20 hours. It's two hours a week (and) it's important to do something for one child at a time, so we decided to get involved."

The training took place at The Daily Gleaner office and allows volunteers to work with Grade 2 students in schools across New Brunswick to better their literacy skills.

"We do the same kinds of things that young readers need," said Julie Maston, a trainer with ELF.

"(Volunteers) listen to someone read to them, they practise reading smoothly, they work with words and practise identifying (them). They read books that would be at an easy enough level for the student to read on their own. Each session is about 45 minutes and we just go through that with the prospective volunteers so they are prepared when they go to the school."

Maston says the 10-week literacy tutoring program is aimed at helping students in the second grade because they are still in the early stages of their education.

"We decided to focus on Grade 2 because it's sort of within the early years and the tutoring takes outside of instructional time." Maston said. "Most schools, certainly the (city's) schools, Grades K to 2 is dismissed around 2 (p.m.) and 3 to 5 is dismissed around 3 (p.m.) so, you have a one-hour spot where a Grade 2 student, twice a week, could maybe take the late bus home or leave at the later dismissal time. We wanted to add to the time for reading as apposed to replacing it."

Ronald Vienneau said the step-by-step look at how their one-on-one sessions would be structured was very helpful.

"We went step-by-step and we followed so we'll know exactly what we're going to do with the students as we begin our sessions," he said.

The lieutenant-governor agreed, adding that knowing what was going to take place made her more comfortable.

"I feel more secure," she said. "I'm not a teacher by training, so I was kind of nervous to spend an hour with a child. Now, I feel more at ease because I know exactly (what will happen). We have a lot of stuff, so I know that hour will go very fast."

The lieutenant-governor and her husband will be attending both English and French training sessions so one can tutor in English while the other does the same in French.

"(I will volunteer) on the francophone side and my husband (will volunteer) on the anglophone side," said Roy-Vienneau. "But, we decided that we will both get the training in English and in French. (On) Friday we will go to École des Bâtisseurs where we will get the French training. We're looking forward to seeing the difference between the French and the English training because there's not a lot of people who get a chance to look at both."


The training session consisted of different tutoring techniques and the basic structure of a tutoring session.

"They're provided with some training, a structure to each tutoring session and they're also provided with materials that will support it," said Maston. "The kinds of activities that they do might be very similar to what might occur at school or at least it pieces together well."

Maston says the program is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.

"An ELF tutor, it's always one more layer of support," she said. "Any of the students that they're working with are already a priority in the classroom. They're probably already getting extra small group work or extra reading practice. They might even be working with a resource teacher or a literacy teacher who is school based. By the time they work with an ELF volunteer, we're another layer. At the end of each block, we send out a questionnaire to the volunteers asking about their experience and if they plan to return. We've certainly heard lots of positives from people who volunteer, how they really enjoy it. Even last week I was getting some lovely emails and phone (calls from people saying) 'I love volunteering for this program, I really enjoy it' and also from teachers who really appreciate the efforts (of the volunteers). So, it's sort of a win-win-win (situation)."

Roy-Vienneau hopes after she and her husband are complete with the volunteering program, they make a difference in the lives of at least two children.

"We hope the (children) that we're going to be working with (will) improve as far as reading is concerned," said Ronald Vienneau. "That's exactly why we're doing it."

His wife agreed.

"When we'll be talking about literacy and giving time for literacy, we will know what we're talking about because we would have worked with those children," said the lieutenant-governor. "So, to me that's important, that we know what we're talking about. For me it would be very rewarding to be able to something for (a) child."

To learn more about the Elementary Literacy Friend program, visit

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)


Solving illiteracy depends on us

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Sat Jan 16 2016 



The province's lieutenant-governor and her husband have issued a challenge to New Brunswickers to become personally involved to improve our chronically low literacy rates.

Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau and her husband, Ronald, have pledged to volunteer time in the province's schools this winter, working one-on-one with children who struggle to read.

We salute this act of leadership from the Vienneaus, in no small part because it underscores a key truth about illiteracy -- it isn't a problem that government alone could or should address. The inability of a large part of our population to read is a problem for all of us. And we should all strive to be part of the solution.

Nearly one in four young New Brunswick students struggle to read, according to recent test scores. More than 50 per cent of adult New Brunswickers lack the full reading comprehension skills to understand more complex texts.

There are data that points to a solution. Studies show the right amount of one-on-one help for students who are not at reading level by Grade 2 can translate into long-term literacy skills.

That's where the Elementary Literacy Friends (ELF) program comes into play. The non-profit organization matches volunteers with struggling readers. Each volunteer -- like the lieutenant-governor and her husband -- commit to a minimum of 20 hours of one-on-one reading time with a child. The results, in schools around the province where ELF is in place, have been dramatic, with the average ELF participant advancing two reading levels.

The cost to society of allowing one quarter of our children to leave school without the ability to read is incalculable. There are greater demands on our social services and underemployment, which too often leads to addiction problems and crime. More than that, there is the wasted potential and foregone contributions from those who aren't equipped with the basic skills needed in the modern economy and society.

A 20-hour commitment to the ELF program at your neighbourhood school, two hours per week working with a struggling reader, can be a rewarding experience for the volunteer -- and a life-altering relationship for a seven-year-old child.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire province to create a literate child. Solving New Brunswick's literacy problem won't come from extra government money; it will happen because more people follow the lead of our lieutenant-governor and act.

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)


Literacy is key piece of poverty strategy

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Fri Jan 15 2016 

Wayne Long 


I have begun my tenure as Saint John-Rothesay MP by focusing on an uncomfortable but unavoidable problem: poverty in Saint John. In Ward 3, 50 per cent of our children live in poverty. My team and I are taking action - we are committed to tackling poverty head-on.

In my first address to Parliament, I asked that Saint John be made a model city for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, a national program promised by Prime Minister Trudeau and mandated to Jean Yves Duclos, Minister of Children, Families, and Social Development. Our size and demographic make us an ideal test case for a national poverty reduction strategy. One important first step will be the implementation and study of the Canada Child Benefit, to see exactly how many children our new and expanded child care benefit can lift out of poverty in Saint John.

I am in consultation with Minister Duclos, Premier Brian Gallant, Minister Ed Doherty, Minister Rick Doucet, Mayor Mel Norton, and have consulted extensively with business and community organizations across the city. This process is just beginning. We have adopted the four areas of poverty reduction proposed by Living SJ (Neighbourhoods, Employment, Health, and Education) and we are now working with our newly-formed Poverty Reduction Advisory Board to establish our own targets, new targets that complement and build upon existing targets.

Federally, our funding responsibilities lie under "Neighbourhoods" (affordable housing and Housing First initiatives) and "Employment" (skills-training and literacy). Premier Gallant has endorsed and partnered with our local anti-poverty initiative, and our bid to be a model city for the entire country. The province will be taking the lead for new targets in the areas of health and education. Premier Gallant has agreed to an increased focus on priority schools in Saint John. The premier has also helped expand our strategy. He has asked for a special emphasis on women living in poverty. This focus on women makes a great deal of sense: women are the primary care givers, and poverty starts at home.

This is the first in a series of articles that will explain our local approach to the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, piece by piece.

The first piece is literacy. Literacy is key to success in the modern world. Level 3 literacy is the minimum level required for reading and understanding training and safety manuals and prescription drug information. Sadly, 56 per cent of adults in our province fall below Level 3. Low literacy seriously impacts a person's ability to find gainful employment.

So what is being done in the city? Christina Fowler is executive director of The Learning Exchange. Ms. Fowler and her team help adults who struggle with literacy to write their high school equivalency test, or GED. "CALP" the Community Adult Learning Program, assists learners in upgrading literacy skills, getting the GED, and finding and maintaining employment. Over 400 learners come through their doors each year. This is very important work, and an important part of our poverty reduction strategy. We will be lobbying Ottawa for another full time employee for The Learning Exchange and more stable funding in the years to come.

Another way to gain your high school equivalency is to go though the provincial office of Post Secondary Education, Training & Labour (1 Agar Place). The counsellors are available from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. While it is obvious that those who struggle with reading cannot readily access the information in this article, many reading this article know someone who could use a little nudge in the right direction. Literacy provides an opportunity for a fuller, more rewarding life, both mentally and financially.

Several organizations in the city are taking more proactive approaches to literacy. Janet Towers of the YMCA Early Learning Centre (223 St. James Street) is a winner of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Child Education. Ms. Towers was instrumental in establishing Saint John's first Early Learning Centre. I will lobby for federal dollars to partner with provincial funding for the Early Learning Centre.

Dr. Erin Schryer is the executive director of Elementary Literacy Inc. Her approach is to address issues with literacy before they have a chance to develop into lifelong problems. Since 2009, Elementary Literacy has implemented the ELF (Elementary Literacy Friends) and CLEF Communauté Littératie au Primaire programs in 150 schools across the province. Both programs are one-on-one supplementary reading achievement programs. Volunteers commit to one hour - twice a week - for 10 weeks after school. The program saw nearly 1,000 participants in the past school year, with 70 per cent of NB schools now offering ELF or CLEF. In the next year, the goal is to reach 1,300 students who are struggling to read in Grade 2.

Results have been excellent: the average ELF participant increased two reading levels. Reading skills increased by 59 per cent and 82 per cent of school contacts were very satisfied with the programs. Ninety-seven per cent felt that students had made gains that supported learning in the classroom.

You can support this important work by volunteering as a reading mentor. I am personally asking for volunteers for our priority schools here in Saint John: Hazen White/St. Francis, Princess Elizabeth, Glen Falls, Centennial, Prince Charles, and St. John the Baptist/King Edward. You can also volunteer with PALS: Partners Assisting Local Schools, a group that is also doing excellent work. For the purposes of our anti-poverty initiative, I am requesting a more concentrated PALS focus on these specific priority schools, the ones that need it the most.

You can also show your support by attending the upcoming fundraiser: "Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John."

On Jan. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m., Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John will be hosted by Costas Halavrezos with opening remarks from Lieutenant Governor Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. Buying a ticket or a table will allow you to help sponsor the great work Dr. Schryer and her organization is doing for child literacy here and across the province.

Wayne Long is Saint John-Rothesay MP. Tickets for the Achieve Literacy fundraiser are $50, or a table for $400 and are available at To volunteer as an ELF reading mentor, call 1-506-633-5588 or email

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Lieutenant-governor issues challenge aimed at improving literacy

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) 

Wed Jan 13 2016 

Karissa Donkin 


FREDERICTON * The province's lieutenant-governor has issued a challenge to New Brunswickers aimed at moving the dial on the province's stubbornly low level of literacy.

Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau and her husband, Ronald Vienneau, will volunteer their time inside schools this winter, providing one-on-one mentorship to youngsters who struggle with reading.

They're hoping people follow their lead. On Wednesday, they'll officially launch the Lieutenant-Governor's 20-hour Challenge, which urges New Brunswickers from all corners of the province to give 20 hours - two hours per week for 10 weeks - to mentor young readers. They're partnering with Elementary Literacy Inc., which has paired volunteers with hundreds of young readers in French and English New Brunswick schools.

Poor literacy is directly linked to the performance of the economy. Tackling it, the lieutenant-governor said in an interview on Tuesday, is everyone's problem.

"If we can volunteer for 20 hours in order to give a chance to a young student to improve his reading skills, many people in the province should be able to do it," Roy-Vienneau said.

Nearly one in four young New Brunswick students struggle to read, according to recent test scores released this fall. They show only 77 per cent of anglophone students in public schools reached the expected level of reading on provincial Grade 2 literacy assessments. That's down from 78 per cent last year and nearly 84 per cent in 2010.

In francophone schools, only about 75 per cent of students met the standard for tests that measure reading silently and out loud. Both fall below the provincial government's goal of 90 per cent.

When she was installed as lieutenant-governor, Roy-Vienneau vowed to champion literacy as her main priority. A former educator in the community college system, she said she's been watching literacy rates for decades. Many initiatives aimed at boosting the province's literacy rates have come and gone since then.

"But nothing has changed that much," Roy-Vienneau said. "It's a very complex problem."

She's eager to see the comprehensive literacy strategy promised by the Liberals and in the works since last spring.

In explaining the need for such a strategy, the provincial government says one in five New Brunswickers have literacy levels below the average, with many people missing a high school diploma. Young children are lagging behind, and so are Grade 8 students, who rank behind almost every other province in reading.

While Roy-Vienneau hopes government can make a difference in literacy rates, she said it will take years to fully tackle the problem.

In the meantime, she believes the one-on-one mentorship provided by volunteers at Elementary Literacy helps tackle the problem as early as Grade 2, when reading problems may start to emerge.

"We have to start somewhere," she said.

Erin Schryer, the executive director of Elementary Literacy, said the lieutenant-governor and her husband are sending a powerful message by committing their own time. She hopes the message will spread.

"What resonated with her about our organization is we're saying there is something you can do," Schryer said. "You can volunteer two hours a week with a child one on one in a school and you can make a difference in this child's life in helping them learn to read."

Traditionally, she said, the focus has been on adults who have literacy deficits. While that's important, and those people need support too, Schryer believes those later deficits can be prevented if students can master the foundations of reading and if difficulties are caught at a young age.

"We really need to get these children early and ensure they don't leave Grade 2 and they don't leave Grade 3 behind in their reading, that it's a priority."

For volunteers, the change can often happen before their eyes. Schryer has received emails from volunteers who have watched their reading buddy transform from being shy about reading to being confident enough to read out loud in front of the class.

In most communities, Schryer said schools need only two or three more volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering or helping recruit volunteers can contact the organization's office for a full list.

As a former school teacher, Ronald Vienneau knows the feeling when you see a light go on for a child who has been struggling to read and write. He believes one-on-one attention makes a big difference for these children.

"Sometimes that's all it takes," he said. "Just that little extra makes a difference between learning or struggling."

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)


Local author sharing stories of the province he loves, its people, places and more

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) 

Sat Jan 9 2016 

Lori Gallagher 


Peter D. Clark has been sharing the stories of New Brunswick through his books and in person for a number of years.

In fact, through classroom visits alone, he expects to have talked to more than 80,000 students by the end of this school year.

"The first book came out in 1994," he says, referring to Woods, Streams, Ghosts and Hangin's.

He's published nine books in all, including Woods, Places, Bears n' Faces, Timeless Stories of New Brunswick, Amazing Stories of New Brunswick and A Treasury of New Brunswick Art and Stories.

"I was born (in New Brunswick). I'm a fisherman. I go in the woods. It's a beautiful province," says Clark, and one he wants to share with others. "Around '97, I basically made my own job between storytelling, the fly-tying and the books, and I've been doing that ever since."

Is he living the dream?

"A lot of people tell me that I am," he says, laughing.

Though much of his storytelling takes place in this province, it's also taken him to a national audience.

"In 1999, I did my cross-Canada book tour, so I saw a lot of people that year," he says, travelling from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

He's seen a lot of schoolchildren over the years, he says, and what administrators don't realize is that when he leaves a school, a lot of the kids go on to read his books.

"Plus the fact that I've given a lot of books away. I've given over 3,000 books to schoolchildren and some of them will have all my books," says Clark.

His visits to the school are something the kids remember, he says, not just days and weeks later, but five, 10, even 15 years after he's been there.

"I got to promote literacy and to promote New Brunswick stories," he says. "We have heroes right here in New Brunswick. Matt Stairs, Danny Grant, Willie O'Ree are a few. Jack Fenety with the fishing."

He has also chronicled A Canada-USA Story: The Friendship Series 2004, which was later made into a fictional movie for television called Sticks and Stones.

Then there are all those great stories, the regular stories, old-time stories and legends, he says, like the Dungarvon Whooper and other ghost stories.

"We're a unique province and the biggest legend story in Atlantic Canada - which some people don't realize - is the Dungarvon Whooper," says Clark.

This is true no matter the age of the audience.

"I'll go to Jacquet River, somewhere I've been seven out of eight years, and the Grade 8 boys will walk up to me as soon as they see me and they say, 'Will you do the Dungarvon Whooper for us today,'" he says.

He expects they've heard it so often that they've got the story memorized, but they still want to hear the tale again.

"I had to memorize the stories, so I do characters and voices when I do the stories. I'm an entertainer. I don't know how many storytellers of New Brunswick stories can walk into a teaching theatre and entertain 150 students at one time," says Clark.

His favourite age group? Grade 3 to Grade 12, he says.

"I change my stories, but the funny thing is, I tell a lot of the same stories to the Grade 3s as I do to the Grade 12s - and they get a kick out of it," he says.

His plans for 2016 revolve around all the things he loves.

"I wake up every day and I tie flies. That's my hobby. And I'm thinking about booking some school (visits). I know that I have a school or two I can still book through WiSP, the Writers in the Schools Program," he says. "And sometimes I just volunteer out of the blue at a school or a senior citizen home or whatever. I've done a lot of those."

Clark is self-published under the name Penniac Books and has sold a lot of books, with a number of his titles being considered bestsellers.

"The thing about my books is they'll be ongoing. There's people that are always interested in history, in old-time stories, and I'll have people who drive out the Nashwaak and come get books from me right at the house," he says.

Most Saturdays, Clark can be found at the Boyce Farmers' Market in Fredericton with his books, broach pins and flies. Stop by and say hello.

The Daily Gleaner book club

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen is the December/January pick for The Daily Gleaner book club. We'll discuss the book in the Jan. 30 newspaper, so please send any comments and suggestions for future book club picks to by Monday, Jan. 25. Happy reading!

Lori Gallagher is a staff writer at The Daily Gleaner. She can be reached at

© 2016 The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)


Printed word finds refuge on Coburg Street

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Mon Jan 11 2016 

Julia Wright 


Name: Dave Willard Shoots

Age: 78

Location: Uptown Saint John


On steeply-pitched Coburg Street, the door to Dave Shoots' bookshop curves gently inward - an unusual, concave design studded with small, rectangular panes of leaded glass. The black mahogany has a magical quality - as if the door, and vaulted neoclassical portico, were an entryway to another world.

Shoots, like the 1827 storefront he's maintained for 15 years, is a lovely throwback. Born in 1938 in Ohio, he received his master of divinity from the Methodist seminary in Delaware. He moved to Canada in the late 1960s: he and his family were increasingly dismayed by deteriorating race relations in their home of Toledo.

"Nixon was taking his thumb and pushing down on black people," says Shoots, "and this was the opposite of what was needed. We heard stories about Canada in the newspapers." He moved around from Ontario, to British Columbia, and Alberta, spending long periods away from his late wife, Dotty, and their children, Wendy and Jeff. Shoots and his adult daughter, Wendy Shoots Matheson, settled in Saint John in 1998. Wendy, an avid reader, takes an active role in the business, while Jeff lives in Ontario.

Shoots is a man with respect for tradition, an appreciation of well-built, fine objects, and of good stories - quintessential Saint John qualities.

"I feel very lucky to be in Saint John because of the historical record, and the fact that it's largely still available," he says.

His book business sprung up in a roundabout fashion. For 35 years, he dealt in assorted antiques, "a travelling situation where I had a cargo van that allowed me to move about with antiques and collectibles, small things that I could handle by myself, and I would set up on Sundays at local markets."

Fifteen years ago, Shoots transitioned exclusively into old hardcovers, local history, and other vintage literary finds, which line three rooms of shelves inside that magical door.

"When people come in," says Shoots, sitting by the fireplace with a weighty leather-bound volume on his lap, "one of the most common experiences is that they take a big long sniff, and say, 'it smells like a bookstore.'"

"There are classes or groups of customers," Shoots says. "The first being people who have a book and want to know what it's worth.

"But the second - the people we look for - are people who read and study a particular subject, or collect books from a particular author or field.

"There's something about the experience of going to a bookstore and looking on the shelves: you may never find what you're looking for. But you may find something that's even more interesting, and which takes your breath away."

In the same way that Saint John's history can be felt in the bricks of its lovingly-preserved heritage buildings, the volumes on Shoots' shelves testify to a respect for our shared history. "Those people who write their stories, or those of important people in their lives, are helping to create and maintain history."

As for the obvious challenges of running a tiny, niche bookstore in this tiny, not-particularly literary city, Shoots says, reports of the death of the printed word have been greatly exaggerated.

For Shoots, books represent "smell, touch, memories of childhood, intellectual stimulation, ideas, thoughts, friendships that can develop. A person can be completely isolated, but if he has a book, there's something going on. The time is not wasted, and it's never boring.

"Everybody is an author, although some of us never get around to writing our stories."

Julia Wright @thewrightpage An uptown writer whose weekly column highlights those Saint Johners who quietly add to this city's unexpected, gritty charm

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)




Achieve Literacy hopes event can bolster initiatives in city

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 

Fri Jan 8 2016 

Sarah Petz 


SAINT JOHN * Literacy is a crucial issue for Saint John to tackle as it is the foundation for children's future success, says Erin Schryer, executive director of Elementary Literacy, which offers a volunteer-based reading program for students in New Brunswick. 

"As children increase through their years at school, increasingly they're asked to read material to do their work. So they're asked to read the math question or the science textbook. Well, if they can't read that information ... then all these other curricular areas start to suffer as well," she said. 

"That's when we start to see this downward spiral because literacy is so fundamental." 

That's why members of the Achieve Literacy Greater Saint John initiative are hosting a fundraiser in the hopes of both raising money to buy books for Saint John school and also attracting volunteers for various efforts to help more children read at the provincial level. 

Former CBC host Costas Halavrezos will be hosting the dinner at the Delta Brunswick Hotel on January 20. The event will also celebrate some of the literacy and writing achievements of Saint John students. 

Schryer said the purposes of the event are three-fold. 

One is to highlight the ongoing literacy challenge in Saint John, where 78 per cent of Grade 2 children are reading at grade level, below the provincial standard of 90 per cent, Schryer said. 

Secondly, the event hopes to raise funds to buy instructional books for Saint John schools to support reading development, and also to conduct research to better understand why some students are not achieving the level of literacy they need to. 

Lastly, the hope is that the dinner can attract volunteers for literacy programs in the city, such as Elementary Literacy's after school program that pairs up Grade 2 students with an adult to read with them one-on-one. Schryer said that program in particular needs about 50 volunteers this winter. 

It's especially important to help children get to grade level literacy at an early age, she said. Otherwise, there is a risk they may always find reading challenging. 

"We know that Grade 2 is a critical point. that's why we're so focused on Grade 2, because we know the statistics for children who leave Grade 2 reading behind are not good," she said. 

Tickets for the event are $50 each, or $400 for a table. The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m.

© 2016 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)

Community Update

LDANB-TAANB has opportunities for part-time tutors in Oromocto and Fredericton! Click below for further details.



Community Initiatives

Elementary Literacy Inc. (ELF)
If you are interested in working with elementary students to improve their literacy skills, consider becoming a volunteer with Elementary Literacy Inc. To find out more and to register as a volunteer visit their website.
Frontier College
Frontier College is Canada’s original literacy organization. Located in Moncton and Fredericton, they offer homework and reading clubs, youth programs, one-to-one tutoring, teen programs, an adult literacy program, summer camps and much more! To find out what programs are available in your area call Frontier College at 450-7923 or visit their website.
Laubach Literacy New Brunswick (LLNB)
Laubach Literacy New Brunswick (LLNB) is a non-profit, charitable organization whose trained volunteers help New Brunswick adults improve their basic reading, writing and math skills through a free, confidential program. LLNB volunteers work one-to-one with learners, using materials relevant to learners’ literacy levels and daily lives. To learn more about Laubach Literacy New Brunswick and to become a volunteer please visit their website or contact them at 1-877-633-8899.
Learning Disabilities Association of New Brunswick (LDANB)
LDANB is proud to be offering the Barton Reading and Spelling System in the greater Fredericton area. This literacy program aims at improving the reading, spelling and writing skills of those who have a reading disability or reading difficulties.  Barton is a specialized one-on-one tutoring system based on the Orton-Gillingham method that teaches the phonemic structure of our written language using a multi-sensory approach. LCNB is proud to support LDANB by providing funding for financial subsidies for low-income families to be able to participate in this program. To find out more click here.
Saint John Learning Exchange (SJLE)
The Learning Exchange is Saint John's leader in adult education, training, and career development. They are a non-profit organization that has become an authority on innovative programming that meets the unique needs of everyone that walks through their doors. If you or someone you know is looking for support to meet academic or employment goals, they have the programming and resources you need. To learn more about the Saint John Learning Exchange visit their website.
LCNB Calendar of Events
The Literacy Coalition has a website calendar available on which you to share your community literacy events. To submit events to our calendar please send event information to To take a look at our calendar, click here.
Do you have community literacy initiatives you would like us to share?
If you are involved in or know of a literacy initiative that should be shared across the province we want to know about it! Send us an email or give us a call and we will include the information in an issue of our newsletter. We can be reached at or 1-800-563-2211.

Professional Development Opportunities


The SkillsNB program provides free online training available 24/7 to the citizens of New Brunswick. With SkillsNB, New Brunswickers can improve skills, build on existing education and work toward career goals. The SkillsNB online library includes over 6,000 resources including courses, videos, simulations, and books, with content in English and French. SkillsNB resources cover the areas of Business, IT, Desktop, Leadership, Management, Well-being and more! Visit the SkillsNB website at and click “Register”. Follow us on Twitter @skills_nb. Questions about the program or registration? Call the Program Manager at 1-844-462-1203 or email
That's it for this edition of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick Newsletter! Happy Holidays, and we'll see you in 2016!
Copyright © 2016 Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick, All rights reserved.

Reach us by phone at:
(T) 506-457-1227
Toll Free: 1-800-563-2211

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