Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Our 15th annual Crescent Valley Community Tenant's Association Christmas party

Santa loves this picture of him and Pete the Cat.
 Play, sing, talk, read and write/create every day!

Play, read, sing, write, talk are five things promoted throughout New Brunswick libraries and preschools as part of our province's ongoing support and celebration of children's and families' learning.  We had fun doing all of these at our 15th annual Crescent Valley Community Tenant's Association Christmas party.

"I am probably going to draw a mountain," he said.
Then he did.
More mark making.

We brought our blankets and regular hoard of seasonal and ever-popular board and pictures books for the reading corner.  This was also our "singing corner;" first, as directed by the individual children, and, later, when we paged through our copies of the Disney Christmas Sing-Along to find those important middle-verse lyrics during the party's group sing.

The reading corner - snuggled beneath
the window that looks out on a snowy field.

David Shannon authored this year's most popular party read.

Disney's Christmas Sing-Along is a
must have for our parties.

We set up our now traditional card- and decoration-making table and also invited children to draw and colour.  As well, we reached back to our supper and a movie days and taped large sheets of blank paper on two of the walls for self-expression of all sorts.  New this year was a Lego table (Duplo, actually) for extra creative play.

Christmas flowers growing beneath a warm winter sun
(even if it was snowing outside that day).

Homemade cards are the best.
We were pleased to provide 37 gift-wrapped and individually designated books for Santa to give out, and also to share some of these great photos with the proud parents and grandparents of the aspiring engineers.

Santa's Workshop

"We built a zoo."

Santa's sleigh

Santa's 'Flight Present Dropper'

Builder: It's a new system. The sides keep balance and
then you punch in the address, the toys
go in here and come out here down the chimney.
Photographer: So Santa doesn't even have to get out?
Builder: Right. Very fast.

Next week, we get to attend the Christmas Adult Social provided by the CVCTA, where we will sing a few carols, play a game or two, talk to friends old and new, and maybe even do a bit or reading and writing - things also important for adult and life-long learning.

A big 'Thank You' to the Hillcrest Village Knitters who presented us with a check for $200 for the purchase of books for children under 16 in North End neighbourhoods.

QLNB's Cheryl Brown and Beverly Lyons of Hillcrest Village Knitters


Interested readers can find out more about some of the hows and whys of our part in this neighbourhood event by reading Community Literacy at Christmas (2016).

The Province of New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is using "Play, Sing, Talk, Read and Write/Create Every Day" messaging to support children's literacy development and early school success.  This messaging dovetails wonderfully with our provincial public libraries "Every Child Ready to Read @ your Library" initiative.  More information can be found on the Saint John Free Public Library's YouTube channel

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Province of New Brunswick, Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture supports Event Storytents

This has to be my favourite part of Celebration Sunday!
- Child Participant

The boys’ grampy comes by the event tent and says, “Don’t forget to write down the books you’re reading cause you’re in that reading club.  You need to read 100 books!”  Wendell facilitates with providing pen and paper so the two boys can leave with their list.
- Worker Field Notes

At an event, a storytent can enhance a community fair, a school festival, or an organization’s summer picnic.  Effective event tents can promote a reading culture.  They demonstrate that reading can happen anywhere.  They encourage children and families to keep books and reading in their quality pictures of a fun outing.  As well, they provide a way to promote or outreach additional services; or to gauge interest in new programming.

This year we planned for nine event storytents, and managed to hit eight, across Saint John.  A total of 305 children and adults read, borrowed or received books over the course of eight events (an average of 12 adults and 27 children per event).

She really enjoyed the storytent last year, so we thought we would come back again.
- Parent Participant

The two girls came back and picked up I Am Invited to a Party by Mo Willems (an Elephant and Piggie book).  “I don’t have this one!” one exclaimed, and they read it together, laughing and giggling.
- Worker Field Notes

CVCTA Fun Days is the usual fun chaos!  Children are everywhere and unsupervised.  Running through tent, falling over.  [A former storytent kid] now has three of her own, pops in to say ‘Hi.’  One of several ‘Storytent alumni’ who came in to read to sons or daughters, nieces or nephews. 
- Worker Field Notes

Thanks for bringing the books!
- Child Participant

Anecdotes and conversations with families indicated that event tents were once again a valued service and promoted literacy and library services in a unique way.  We are very grateful for major support from NB's Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture which makes our involvement with these events possible.

Additional 2017 event storytent support came from City of Saint John, the Crescent Valley Community Tenant’s Association, the Milford Community Centre, the Province of New Brunswick Department of Social Development, RiverCross Church, the Saint John and District Labour Council, and the Saint John Free Public Library.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saint John Free Public Library supports Storytent

With the support of the Saint John Free Public Library, along with the New Brunswick departments of Social Development and of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, we were able to offer Quality Storytents and a Summer Reading Club outreach twice weekly on Roxbury Drive.  Each Tuesday and Thursday, from June 27th to August 22nd, we pitched our tents in a backyard common managed by Social Development.

At the Roxbury tents, families requested books in English, French and Arabic.  Here the support of the Saint John Free Public Library proved crucial.  Their grant allowed us to purchase many wonderful books in the languages of each family's choice: books we were able to lend for reading in the home.  Our Free Public Library was also a source of French and Arabic children's books we borrowed for use in the tent.

 Roxbury is a forte symphony of languages and culture - sometimes Arabic, sometimes French, sometimes English.  The children are loving the singing books.  I can see Mom reading Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed to Ali and Mohamed in English, to their delight. Someone in that household has read the first three Harry Potter books in Arabic - I will order the next few.
- Worker Field Notes
 [Toddler] was on the outside of the tent.  I handed him the Go Dog Go board book.  After some hesitation he took it from me.  Then he ran off with it to show a friend, and then into his home apparently to show his mom.
    He and Mom came to the tent a few minutes later to read or look through some books.  Her daughters joined them as they looked at the Arabic book with the animals.  Mom, who doesn’t speak English or French, pronounced the Arabic name of the animals to her daughters: they gave her the names in English.
- Worker Field Notes
 On Roxbury, the children also engaged heavily in self-directed writing activities, in apparent imitation of our own note- and attendance-taking (frequently by commandeering and repurposing our notebooks!).  We created a writing box with child friendly materials to accommodate the interest in writing, and it is our perception that at least half of the children’s storytent time was occupied with various forms of writing and pre-writing behaviour.

We were very pleased with the response of the children and the community to the Storytent and the Summer Reading Club.  We lent out 84 books (children's and adult's).  In the tent, 30 different children  read to at least 479 books.

Mom has sent us out some steamed zucchini stuffed with rice.  I Google “Thank you” on my phone and write my first Arabic word on a 3” by 5” cue card: Shaukraan. “Thank you.”
- Worker Field Notes

[Toddler #2] brings a plate of French fries to the tent.  His sister shout at him in Arabic - presumably about keeping his supper out of tent.  So I take some Byron Barton books out to where he’s standing, forlorn.  I read him Machines at Work, Trucks and Boats.  He pays close attention, then puts his supper down and ‘reads’ Machines at Work and Trucks back to me.
- Worker Field Notes

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Provincial Department of Social Development support for Quality Storytents

Girl, very young, sits by Cheryl who is reading to two other girls.  She studies Cheryl position and then arranges herself the same way, holding her book ‘just so’ and mimicking reading aloud.
- Worker Field Notes

This year's Quality Storytent program at Courtenay Bay was made possible through the support and encouragement of the New Brunswick Department of Social Development.  In addition to significant funding, the Department provided on-site storage space.  (Similarly important storage space was provided for us in the neighbourhoods of Anglin Drive and Roxbury Drive.)

Storytent and the Summer Reading Club outreach ran each Monday from June 26th to August 21st, on a common green space next to the Brunswick Drive High Rise.

This location was very much a family location, with adults present in almost every tent.  As well, and this is site specific, there were many children bringing their dolls to the storytent.  Families typically borrowed; adult novels as well as children’s books, texts in both English and Arabic.  Over the nine sessions, families borrowed 48 books and read at least 331 books.

Additional support for the Courtenay Bay project, storytent projects in two other neighbourhoods, and for our 2017 Event Storytents, came from the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and the Saint John Free Public Library.
“She’s been reading the books every morning.  She loves them.  We have a lot of books.  Knows the authors.”
- Parent Participant

Saturday, September 2, 2017

City of Saint John support for Quality Storytents

[Girl] decided that she wanted to read the Piggie dialogue in one of the Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie books [by Mo Willems].  This was fun.  Then she picked up another book and wanted me to read it.  I asked her if she wanted to be Piggy or Gerald?  She wanted to be Piggy.  We read the book in our respect roles.  Then she wanted to read it again, only with switching roles (so I got to be Piggy this time – Piggy is my favourite).  It was fun to watch her take some control over the reading situation, with us doing a bit of co-constructing around our reading.  Then she picked up Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (another Mo Willems book).
    She said: “First I will read it all to see if I can read it.  Then you can be the bus driver and I will be the pigeon.”  So she read it through and only needed to ask me one word (“Cousin”).  Then she reiterated her plan:  “Now you be the bus driver and I’ll be the pigeon and then we’ll switch.”  So we did.  “Now I’ll be the bus driver and you be the pigeon.” 
    Repeat readings…all in a row…fascinating!  She picked up another Elephant and Piggie book (I am Invited to a Party) and we repeated the whole process, with me reading it first, then she reading it, then us playing roles, then switching roles - all at her request.
    [Girl]  borrowed three Elephant and Piggie books at the end of tent, and I was left amazed again at the wonderful nature of the child-led reading process.
- Worker Field Notes

The City of Saint John, in cooperation with the Department of Social Development, made it possible for us to bring the Quality Storytent program and our Summer Reading Club outreach to Anglin Drive.  Storytent ran once per week for nine weeks, from June 30th to August 25th.  We adopted previous years’ schedule of Friday mornings.  Our tents were set up on the corner of Anglin Drive and Pigeon Terrace, a common green space managed by Social Development, within sight of both the local playground and the community centre (the previous years’ location).  We hired a local youth who had experience with last year’s tent to act as a reader on sunny, busier days.

Toys arrived.  Some went to Mallory’s pocket, some went into a box.  Now four boys are listening to Mallory read Munsch. 
- Workers Field Notes

Thirty different children accessed the Anglin Drive storytent, borrowing 39 books, and reading at least 253 books over the summer.  We are very greatful for our City's support for this project.  We are equally appreciative of their invitation to join them at several of this year's Passport2Parks celebrations.

Additional support for the Anglin Drive project, storytent projects in two other neighbourhoods, and for our 2017 Event Storytents, came from the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, the Department of Social Development, and the Saint John Free Public Library.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

AGM 2016

QLNB will be holding its AGM in Room 1 of the Saint John Free Public Library, Central Branch (1 Market Square, Saint John, N.B.)  at 6pm on Thursday, March 2nd.

For more info, please contact Cheryl Brown, our Community Literacy Coordinator, at 333 2601 or

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Reflections 2016

reading at a qlnb cvcta christmas party
Christmas with the CVCTA (2016)

We had the pleasure of helping out at the CVCTA's Christmas party again this year. We wrapped and gave out 40 books (each child receives a wrapped book and a toy/game from Santa near the party's end) and also set up our regular colouring / reading / crafting corner.

CVCTA QLNB Christmas party

This happened to be our 14th year with the CVCTA. Alas, we miscounted and thought it was the 15th year, and told everyone it was the 15th, and became so excited about that that we decided to write a short piece talking about how our practice had changed over a decade and a half, and....


We've amended our count, but here's the document: Community Literacy at Christmas (2016) .

You can find this and other writings further down the right-hand sidebar of this website. Or click the Our Stories tab above.

puppet show at a qlnb cvcta christmas party
Christmas with the CVCTA (2002)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Quality Storytents 2016

quality storytent in martinon

Now that Trunk or Treat is finished, it's time to sum up the 2016 Quality Storytents project.

This year we partnered with many organizations, both old and new, to provide programming and event tents across the city.

Summer Reading Club outreach Nick Nicolle

Plans for the Old North End neighbourhood changed a little to better accommodate their summer programs. Rather than a traditional outdoor storytent, we delivered a Summer Reading Club launch and book give-away, and followed up with four family literacy sessions, delivered once weekly in the "Lobby Library."

These sessions adopted the 2016 Summer Reading Club theme Explore!/Explorez! and provided a weekly reading time with family activities grouped around the five SRC themes Dinosaurs, Vikings, Knights, Pirates and Astronauts.

Working with the Department of Social Development, we piloted the tent in a neighbourhood with a significant proportion of Syrian families. This turned out to be very exciting. Tents ran for five weeks on the common green space managed by Social Development as part of their Public Housing program. Families requested books in English, French and Arabic (which we were able to provide). Some adults sought our support while reading to their children in an unfamiliar language. Children engaged in writing activities; imitating worker’s note-taking and, on occasion commandeering and repurposing workers’ notebooks.

These kids love writing and drawing. I think they’ve commandeered every piece of paper we’ve got, all our pens and pencils, and my glasses. We’ll bring the writing box next week for sure.
- Worker Field Notes

storytent in the rain

Also on Saint John’s East Side, we ran nine weekly Storytents beside the Nason Road playground in partnership with the Silver Falls Community Association.

“I can read this one all by myself now – my mom read it twice and now I can read it,” says one girl. She proceeds to ‘read’ Mortimer to me. Then she picks up Yummy Yucky. “I know how to read this one.” A few weeks ago she was talking about how she was having problems reading the [very low level] Dog book.
- Worker Field Notes

storytent at rockwood park

 We also delivered nine event storytents.

At the Reservoir tent a mom read to her children and then talked with me briefly about the challenges and joys of reading to her children. I listened and co-verified. She said, “Thanks for being here. Thanks for listening. I needed to have that with a mom.”
- Worker Field Notes

Boy makes a short stack of books already read to him. "This is our empty one."
- Worker Field Notes

The Teddy Bear Picnic proceeded as usual. We read to children once they received their new book (and stuffed animal and snack). I put out several good books as an invitation to the children to continue reading. One little boy put the books in a row and each time we finished, he would choose the next one using ‘eenie meenie.’ In this manner, he read all the books. Allowing children to choose which books they read is an important part of our process.
-Workers Field Notes

The impact of event tents is hard to measure given that there is rarely any borrowing and our opportunities for engagement are limited. Nonetheless, our field notes record positive signs. We have notes of families making reading part of their day at the park or the beach. We have notes about parents asking questions and sharing ideas. We have notes of children exploring books and reading in a more playful way than they might expect to be able to when at school. We have notes of community partners saying “That was wonderful” and “I hope you can come back next year.”

At Trunk or Treat, one mother told us that she and her child read last year’s T’orT’ book “over and over”. They were pleased to receive another book by the same author. Another girl told her mom, “I’m so glad they’re giving away books again;” a key marker of the successful promotion of literacy and love of reading among families and young children.

Adult: Excuse me, is your name 'Wendell'?
Wendell: Yep.
Adult: I have your book for you. You gave it to me a couple of years ago to get my GED.
Wendell: Oh hey! Did you get it?
Adult: What?
Wendell: Did you get your GED?
Adult: Yeah. I got it.
(Hands us a Steck-Vaugn GED Preparation book. It's a little beaten up.)
Adult: Sorry.
Wendell: Hey, no. No problem.
Adult: Thanks.
Wendell: Thank you.
The books we lend almost always come back; just not right away.
- Worker Field Notes

The 2016 Storytent Program was full of surprises. We did not expect to be receiving returned GED textbooks, purchasing children’s books in Arabic, delivering tents on Roxbury Drive, or joining the District Labour Council at Rockwood Park. Nonetheless we were pleased overall, as were our partners.

Project Sponsors:

  • Province of New Brunswick
  • Saint John Free Public Library

Project Partners and Hosts:

  • C. E. Nick Nicolle Center
  • City of Saint John
  • Crescent Valley Resource Centre
  • Martinon Community Centre
  • New Brunswick Department of Social Development
  • Rivercross Church
  • Saint John and District Labour Council
  • Saint John Free Public Library
  • Silver Falls Community Association

Additional support for our book give-aways came from the Peter Gzowski Invitational, Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick.