Books for a Better Life 

“I am grateful that our relationship with First Book Canada is only growing and I know my school community appreciates more opportunities to read and build their literacy skills… [and] that there is another organization that cares about them.” – Elizabeth Baltazar

Elizabeth Baltazar is a teacher at Lord Dufferin. She has said that many of her students are living with stressors that adults would have difficulty managing. The majority of students are living in subsidized housing, and the average income for families is around $15,000. They are dealing with many issues that are associated with living in poverty, and parents often require support to meet the basic needs of their families. When the students receive books, they share with their siblings and peers. 

Located in the Regent Park community of downtown Toronto, many students are newcomers to Canada. There are families that are refugees and who are also involved with the correctional system. Some students are homeless or living in shelters, and they have to rely on local food banks and community services to survive

Lord Dufferin is surrounded by more than 20 different agencies that specialize in support for domestic abuse victims, drug addiction, anti-gang violence, etc. Active community programs give students an opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and leadership programs. Lord Dufferin offers Adult ESL and Parenting classes for parents and guardians who are not fluent in English.

“If families require support to feed their families breakfast… buying new books is not a priority.” – Elizabeth Baltazar

Teachers have noticed that reading levels have increased since students received books from First Book Canada. Students who have received new books often share their books with siblings or practice reading to them. Students have been inspired to read more and can often be found discussing their books with fellow classmates around the school.

First Book Canada works with Lord Dufferin to ensure that students have the opportunity to use education as a way to obtain a different and better life through books. The ongoing support of staff, community members, and involved parents has given students the chance to imagine a different life.


Toronto, ON. 2018.