Books let spirits soar

Local mom helps literacy


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Anna Rosner created Books With Wings in 2011

The power of books can be underestimated when someone has always had them at their disposal. But when Forest Hill mother Anna Rosner was studying native education and learned how many children on Aboriginal reserves did not have access to books, she felt compelled to make a difference.

“On reserves, there’s no Indigo for children to go to,” says Rosner. “The vast majority of these children don’t own a single book, which is hard for us to wrap our heads around.”

That’s why in 2010 Rosner started Books With Wings, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy in First Nations communities by sending books and letters for young children. The aim is to encourage literacy and promote imagination. “Reading for a child is really about dreams,” says Rosner. “We hope to be their bookstore.”

The small team of volunteers gathered brand new books from schools, neighbours, daycares and community centres and has donated 3,000 books thus far to children in remote areas of the Northwest Territories and British Columbia. Currently, they are working with children on the Attawapiskat reserve, where nearly 2,000 of Canada’s 1,172,790 Aboriginal people reside. An estimated 40 per cent of First Nations people live on reserves.

Rosner said that her mission is not just about sending books, but about engaging in dialogue with the children. “The letters are at the heart of our project,” she says. “That way I can see that the children are enjoying the books and reading and improving their literacy skills.”

Rosner has big goals for the foundation. “We’ve worked with schools peppered all over Canada, but we’d like to have a bigger impact,” she says. She would also love to hit the 5,000 book mark by 2014.

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