Archive for the ‘Blog’ category

Share your favourite Christmas story with us the holiday season

December 4th, 2014

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Stories and Christmas go together like shortbread and milk.

They are just meant to be together – and no matter if they are deliciously good, old and stale, or melt in our mouths – we love them.

I didn’t grow up with Christmas stories. As soon as the first decorations went up, we sang. In the car, in the house, wherever we were. And despite my lousy singing I recall shouting at the top of my lungs with the rest. That’s how it is with ritual. You don’t know where they start or why. You don’t know you should be quiet if you don’t sing like Streisand, Adele, or even Idina Menzel. You just sing.

New traditions

With my own kids, the Christmas tradition became reading stories. We were always heading somewhere to visit relatives and this usually included neverending rides in cars and on ferries. In those, ‘pre-tablet days’ we gathered up armloads of Christmas picture books. Endless stories. Give me some gorgeous drawings, a happy wintertime scene and teary ending and I am sold for life. And there’s no better place to find those stories than at the local library .

Other stories have been lucky surprises. I recall laughing hysterically with my eldest while sitting in our car for 10 minutes outside a Christmas party the first time we ever heard Stuart Maclean’s Dave Cooks the Turkey on CBC.

And I remember throwing in a hand-me-down CD of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales into the car stereo as a last resort one long Christmas Day drive. I admit I had never really heard the whole thing. But it is mercifully long and kept everyone silent for what seemed like forever that cold morning.

Twenty years later, we still throw it on each Christmas morning as we head off into the hustle and bustle. We know the funny bits by heart and grow silent as Dylan does toward the end. It’s just what we do.

Check out storytimes in your neighbourhood

That’s how it is with Christmas. Traditions begin when we are busy trying to get through chaos and – if we are lucky – keep us company for a long time. If you’d like to start a Christmas reading tradition with your family check out the local Christmas Storytimes for adults and children at either the Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows FVRL branches this December.

We are making a list and checking it twice

And in the mean time, we at the MRPMK Literacy Committee are wondering what kind of books you are reading with your shortbread and milk? Please share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. We will make a list and put it up close to Christmas for others to see. Who knows you might start a new tradition for someone.

Lynn Easton

Cash in on improving your Financial Literacy

November 15th, 2014

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By Lynn Easton


Sounds like a secret language, right? And like any language it can be hard to understand and difficult to learn.And no wonder. While November marks Financial Literacy month chances are learning about money was never part of your education. Even today, where there’s at least a bit of talk about financial issues in school, the subject is still a bit of a taboo subject in public.

Many of us came from homes where financial issues were whispered about late at night when we were supposed to be asleep. So it’s no wonder that a new study shows that more than two-thirds of Canadians feel uncomfortable with their financial skills.

That makes sense.

But the good news is that there’s all kinds of help out there. Local, well-established, banking institutions will be happy to offer information and advice. And there’s help online too. Check out a few things on the well-respected Canadian ABC Life Literacy site ABC Life Literacy will also host a conversation on Financial Literacy Month on November 20th 10 a.m. at #FLMchat

Forget the late whispers. Talking about financial literacy with each other seems like a pretty good place to start.






Lifelong Learning Can Be Fun

July 22nd, 2014

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By Lynn Easton


I’ve been learning Gaelic from YouTube.

Even when I write that down, I don’t quite believe it. I have never been good at languages, but my daughter thought it would be a fun bonding experience for the two of us to learn an ancient Celtic language that’s just a tad tough to converse in anywhere outside of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. And fun it is!

So I happily raised a glass and said a proper Gaelic toast recently to all the other Adult Learners challenging themselves in ways they never dreamed of as I quietly marked the 13th annual UNESCO Adult Learning Week in Canada.

See, you just learned something too. Adult Learning Week celebrates the ideals of lifelong learning and originated more than a decade ago the United Nations deemed that lifelong learning was important enough to celebrate. Ever since, literacy organizations across Canada have embraced the celebration and the sentiment.

The idea is to honour all types of adult learners and to include people from a variety of literacy levels when creating programs.

Adult Learning Week proponents encourage us to keep the brain active to help create a better quality of life.   My mother just took up Sudoku to add to her crossword habit in hope of staving off the dreaded memory loss. A friend of mine is back at SFU to finish the degree she began in 1968. Both are happier than ever.

In our community you can continue to learn in so many ways it could make your head spin. You can even learn to spin—on a bike or a loom. You can learn to knit, knead bread, build a compost, or build a website.

There are a growing number of adults heading back to school, upgrading their education, or seeking out literacy help. School District’s Riverside Centre is an ideal spot to look upgrade your high school education and to improve your English.

And the MRPMK Community Literacy Committee is the place to call if you need help with reading, writing, or conversational English.  We can help lead you to the right place to start your learning journey, or get you started right away with a one-to-one tutor. Give us a call at 604-721-3738 or 604-220-5231.

And we’d love to read your comments—right here—about the types of learning you are doing or the types of literacy assistance you’d like to see available in our community. In the meantime, I have to get back to my YouTube lessons.   Slainte!


100th Day of Schooling Celebration

March 10th, 2014


A random act of kindness: students at Edith McDermitt showcase the books they collected and are donating to the Literacy Committee.

“Oh my goodness–we had such a terrific 100 day!!”  commented Betty McLeod, a Kindergarten teacher at Edith McDermitt Elementary in Pitt Meadows.  McLeod, along with another Kindergarten teacher, Kate Nunez celebrated the 100th Day of School by collecting “100 pieces of lego, building with 100 dixie cups. 100 second jumping, hopping, making 100 with Oreo cookies and pretzel stick, collecting 100 chocolate kisses. The biggest accomplishment was we collected 158 books between the 2 classes!!!  How cool is that?” McLeod commented in an email.

Very cool!  This random act of kindness by the Kindergarten students has put 158 books into the hands of the Literacy Committee for re-distribution at community events.  By donating story books the children in McLeod and Nunez’s classes are sharing their love of reading and some of their favourite stories.

For the Literacy Committee it  is a win-win all around.  The children are excited that the books will be passed on; the Literacy Committee is excited to have a new stock of books to hand out; and, those visit the Literacy Committee booth at upcoming community events (Earth Day – April 26th and Literacy Day at the Haney Farmers Market – June 7th) will have a wider selection of books to choose from.  

A special Thank You goes out to the children and families in McLeod and Nunez’s classes at Edith McDermitt for collecting and donating the books.  They will be treasured by their new owners!




PAJAMA TALES: Family Storytelling with Saskatchewan Storyteller Kevin MacKenzie January 4!

December 20th, 2011

Put on your pj’s and bring your favourite stuffed animal to a storytelling party for all ages.  Saskatchewan storyteller Kevin MacKenzie will be telling stories and fingerplays that will tickle your funny bone at a free public event on Wednesday January 4 in the lobby of The ACT 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge.

Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services, the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee, and the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Arts Council are joining forces to host this storytelling event to promote literacy.  What does storytelling have to do with literacy?

“Literacy is more than just reading, writing and arithmetic,” says Jessie Hill, Co-Chair of the Literacy Committee.  “It also includes social and personal communication and the arts, so storytelling fits in perfectly with literacy.”

MacKenzie, who refers to himself as the grandfather of silliness, gives active and interactive performances with lots of opportunity for kids to jump around.

“We are so lucky to have Kevin here,” said Lynn Malbeuf, Child Care Resource & Referral Program Assistant with Community Services.  “It will be fun for the whole family as Kevin is a very entertaining performer.”

Kevin MacKenzie is a self-described big kid who has travelled to 7 countries telling stories to children of all ages.  His DVD Fingersplay! was given a place on the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s “Our Choice” list.  He used to teach preschool in Vancouver, but decided to go live with gophers in Saskatchewan.

As a lead up to Family Literacy Day on January 27th, the Literacy Committee and its community partners are hosting a series of free public events exploring the various aspects of literacy.  Week one will be the storytelling presentation by Kevin MacKenzie, week two will be a workshop on remembering and recording your family history, and week three will explore financial skills.  The final event, on January 27, brings the Literacy Committee together with the Maple Ridge Public Library for Family Literacy Day in a family oriented carnival event that includes a fun surprise.  Join us throughout January to find out more about literacy, learn new skills, and have fun!

For more information on all the workshops and on Family Literacy Day visit  For more information about the storytelling workshop or to register contact the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Coordinator at or 604.466.8254.