Raise-a-Reader: Provincial funds bolster Sun’s literacy campaign

The B.C. government recently announced a $500,000 grant to literacy programs across the province, including The Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a-Reader campaign.

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American author Dean Koontz has published over 100 novels. And Anne Kang has all of them.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But she’s a fan.

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“Two things I collect right now are V.C. Andrews and Dean Koontz books,” the minister of municipal affairs said. “I’ll pick them up whenever I see them at used bookstores. I have a huge collection right now that I have not read. I’m hoping to curl up one day on a vacation and read everything that I’ve bought.”

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Now, as a minister in the B.C. government and the mother of two teenage children, she doesn’t have as much time to read for pleasure as she would like to. But she remains a strong advocate of reading and literacy.

“I love books and reading,” she said. “And literacy means so much more than just books. Literacy is an essential skill that opens doors to more meaningful work, community engagement and learning opportunities for everyone.”

The provincial government recently announced a $500,000 grant to literacy programs across the province, including The Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a-Reader campaign.

“Literacy means more than just books,” Kang said. “It’s an essential skill that opens doors to meaningful work, community engagement and learning opportunities.”

Since its inception in 1997, Raise-a-Reader’s Sun readers have raised $22,223,260.94. Last year, funds raised through Raise-a-Reader helped bring literacy programs to 66,000 kids and their caregivers through 10,934 program sessions.

Anne Kang
The province is donating $500,000 to literacy programs, including the Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a-Reader campaign. Pictured: Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang at the Burnaby Public Library Summer Read Club Wrap-up event. Photo by Herman Thind /jpg

Kang says she “grew up in a family that was rich with books.”

“My dad is an avid reader. He liked to read the news. He’s a church reverend so he reads a lot of self-help books and Biblical books to support the congregation.”

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She credits her Grade 1 teacher, Patricia Gudlangson, and the school librarian, Mr. Christie, as people who influenced her love for reading.

“I was new to Canada in Grade 1, and I didn’t know a word of English,” Kang said. “The classroom was very different from school in Taiwan. It was carpeted. There was a literacy wall. I saw a calendar and under the calendar there were books, lots and lots of books filled with pictures and colours, some with hardcovers. I was just amazed at the variety. That was very different from where I went to school.”

In the school library from Grades 1 through 7, Mr. Christie entranced her by sharing his favourite books.

“He would tell us why they were his favourites. And the way he spoke, it was as if the books were the most delicious dessert to him. His words captured me every single moment. And he would read a chapter or two with various character voices.”

She enjoyed mystery series like Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys, as well as Goosebumps and Which Way Books. In her early teens she graduated to Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume’s Ramona series. Then in high school she “fell in love with sci-fi” and the work of mystery/thriller/suspense writer Koontz.

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Now in their teens, her son and daughter aren’t avid readers like their mom. Kang says they spend most of their free time online playing games, although her son, who is in Grade 9, enjoys books on leadership, the Second World War and airplanes.

“He wants to be an airplane technician one day,” Kang said.

Taking a cue from Christie and Gudlangson, Kang has encouraged her daughter to read by arranging “a mini-library of beloved books” in her room.

“The reason why I gravitated towards books was because they were laid out so beautifully, and they were calling to me. And so that’s what I do for my daughter.”

Donations to Postmedia News’s Raise-a-Reader campaign can be made at raiseareader.com, 604-681-4199, and by cheque, payable to Vancouver Sun Raise-a-Reader, 1125 Howe St., No. 980, Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2K8. Find us on Facebook @RaiseaReaderVan and on Twitter/X @RARVancouver #RARVan.

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