Marissa Oteiza, the program librarian at NWT Centennial Library, has devised a unique way to observe Family Literacy Day on Jan. 27.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Family Literacy Day will be marked at the public library in Hay River on Jan. 27 in a new way this year.

That’s because Covid-19 precautions at NWT Centennial Library are preventing the usual in-person celebrations.

Instead, program librarian Marissa Oteiza has come up with a unique activity called Pick a Country Travel Bags.

Oteiza said the NWT Literacy Council provided $500 each to communities to celebrate Family Literacy Day with the theme ‘Travel the World from the Comfort of Home’.

“So they’re trying to help people think of creative ways to celebrate Family Literacy Day even though we’re not really hosting celebrations like we normally would be,” she said.

Oteiza’s idea was to put together pick-up packages themed by different countries.

“So it’s Pick a Country Travel Bags and each bag will include books, crafts, colouring pages and a meal from that country,” she said. “I’m going to include a recipe and the ingredients to make the recipe at home. So then families can work together to create different cultural meals depending on the country they pick.”

As of late last week, she had about 13 different families signed up for the 15 available travel bags, which were to be assigned by Jan. 25.

The countries to be featured included China, Russia, Japan, The Philippines, England, Ireland, India, South Korea, Greece, Spain, Brazil and Germany.

Heather Hirst was getting the travel bag on Germany.

“I decided to sign up for the travel book bags as an activity to do with my nephews,” said Hirst. “They like learning about different places and we often talk about places we have travelled or places we want to visit in future.”

Oteiza noted that the books in the travel bags will have to be returned to the library.

“I’m going to have a selection of children’s and adult books that they’ll be borrowing from the library,” she said. “We have a lot of non-fiction books about different countries. So those will go into the packages, but they get returned once they’re done with them. And then all the craft supplies and food and stuff will be theirs to keep.”

All the participating families will be entered into a draw for a chance to win one of three books about foods in various countries.

Oteiza noted the NWT Literacy Council liked her idea so much that it will be doing a similar activity in Yellowknife.

She said Family Literacy Day is celebrated every year.

“I think the biggest point is just to get families reading at home,” she added.

Normally, events like a chili luncheon or a pancake breakfast would be held at NWT Centennial Library for Family Literacy Day.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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