The Family Room: Bringing Families Together

If it weren’t for First Book Canada, we wouldn’t have a literacy program.

Parent Resource Coordinator, Winnipeg, MB

Parent Resource Coordinators work with the Family Rooms; school budget funded gathering places in community schools within the inner city and core. These rooms serve as a resource for parents in the communities, supplying access to necessities such as food and telephone lines and access to books. Parent Resource Coordinators recruit parents of preschoolers to join the events at the Family Room. In the literacy program within the Family Room, there are 50 people (parents with children) at any given time. Parents are encourage to read in their own language based off a story’s pictures if English-language skills are still developing First Book Canada helps to provide books for kids visiting the Family Room, many of whom may not otherwise have access to new books.

The inner city and core of Winnipeg is a diverse community, with many newcomers to Canada who have experienced war trauma and are navigating language barriers. In addition to dealing with poor housing, health issues and food instability, newcomer families must also confront the stress of gangs, who often recruit children right out of the airport. Many Indigenous children have been placed in foster care, and they are dealing with the stress and trauma of being pulled from their families.

The Family Room, alongside a network of community programs, is a space for families to access basic needs and spend the quality time that they need to strengthen their family. Parent Resource Coordinators work as a bridge to the community for these families who are new to Canada or are struggling with barriers as a result of low-income.

The children and students who receive books from First Book Canada begin to talk about what they can do, careers they didn’t realize were possible, and places they want to visit. The books they receive become an open door to what is possible. Staff has seen kids who visited the Family Room with their parents a preschoolers return to their library pop-up as elementary school students.

The continued support of parents in the community, and from the corporate volunteers who come in and read with the students, has been immensely valuable. The Parent Resource Coordinator would like to acknowledge all that First Book Canada has done for kids who visit the Family Rooms. The opportunity that First Book Canada has given to rural areas across Canada is crucial in strengthening families in need.