First Book Canada held a pop-up book event at École EJ Dunn Elementary last spring, filling a small gymnasium with thousands of books for free distribution.
Ten pallets—roughly 16,000 books—from Little Brown & Co. publishers were unloaded into a small gymnasium at EJ Dunn Elementary School for the mid-May event, which was sponsored by TD Bank Group. Carrie Nahorney and Katherin Charbonneau from the Alberni Valley Early Years Centre helped set up the popup event, and said Grade 6 and 7 students from EJ Dunn “were amazing helping us sort the books.”
Students from every elementary school in School District 70 were invited to the school to choose books, many kids walking out with a full book bag.
Representatives from other organizations around Vancouver Island and southern British Columbia also travelled to Port Alberni to bring books back to their communities: Nanaimo, Ahousaht, Kyuquot, Chilliwack (Sardis) and Hope. Each group that registered was permitted to take approximately 120 books.
“We had schoolchildren that were crying because they couldn’t believe they got a boxed set” of books, Nahorney said.
The popup event is one of two programs that First Book Canada has. They typically host one or two events per month in cities across Canada, and they work in donated spaces.
“It was through the connection of Literacy Alberni Society that reached out to us back in October,” explained Tessa from First Book Canada.
“We worked with them to reach out to schools and organizations in the area and got them registered.”
The popup event took place on a Thursday and Friday. First Book Canada was able to bring and distribute that many books because they knew they had the interest from registered groups.
“The groups that we serve, the demographic that we serve are higher need areas in Canada, or areas where they do not have access to books.”
In addition to the popup event, author Tiffany Stone read to children at Maquinna Elementary school from her new children’s book, Tree Song, which was published in April 2018.