A number of local organizations are teaming up to bring a week of fun, excitement, and new literary skills to residents of the Nicola Valley. Literacy Merritt & Nicola Valley Society, along with the Interior Savings Credit Union and Merritt Centennials, are bringing back their annual Unplug and Play Family Literacy Week this January. 

The themed week, which is aimed at those of all ages, looks to raise awareness about the importance of reading and engaging in literacy-related activities as a family. Organizers of the Unplug and Play event note that a variety of offerings will be available throughout a number of weeks in the Nicola Valley. Along with the sharpening of minds and fun to be had, Literacy Merritt said participants could reap other benefits from taking a break from one’s electronic devices. 

“This week is a great opportunity to raise awareness about literacy programming in the community. Many people know about the Bright Red Bookshelves, but there is so much more,” said Lia Moyes Larson, chair of Literacy Merritt & Nicola Valley Society. 

“Families can check out mini literacy programming sessions at the Creative Playground, including Active Stories and Explore Art Literacy. We are especially pleased to see that Come Read With me sessions will be held in person this year. We know how valuable it is for parents to learn how to make reading fun for their children, and for themselves.”

The literacy themed events will kick off on January 14, at the Merritt Centennials home game versus the West Kelowna Warriors. Those attending the game are encouraged to bring a new or gently used book as a donation to Literacy Merritt’s Bright Red Bookshelf program, which places bookshelves filled with free books in a number of locations throughout the Nicola Valley. Those unable to attend the game can donate books to Interior Savings on Voght Street from January 15 to 27. 

Next up on the literacy lineup are a series of Come Read With Me events, aimed at the parents and caregivers of grade one aged children. Attendees will learn strategies to support literacy at home, and receive free materials to support their child’s learning. In addition to the daytime sessions held with students at each local elementary school, an evening session will be held at the Merritt Civic Centre on Wednesday, January 25 from 6:30 to 8PM. Also at the Merritt Civic Centre, a free of charge Creative Playground event will be held on January 27 from 5:00 to 7:30PM, featuring dance, crafts, games, and literacy based activities. Those participating in the events are grateful for the collaboration and partnerships between organizations. 

“This has been an annual partnership that we’ve had with Literacy Merritt,” said Courtney Christy, marketing manager with the Merritt Centennials. 

“We’re super grateful, and our team is also involved in the schools every Thursday morning with Literacy Merritt as well. We look to enhance that partnership, and give people at the game the opportunity to explore what they offer.”

Through the action packed week of literacy base fun, Literacy Merritt looks to advance their purpose of identifying gaps in community literacy, linking literacy based services together, and working with community partners to fill any gaps identified. The non-profit organization offers free books on over 40 Bright Red Bookshelves in the community to support essential literacy skills. They also plan family based events, technical literacy workshops for seniors, and facilitate one-on-one tutoring for students. 

For more information on the Literacy Merritt & Nicola Valley Society, or to register for the evening Come Read With Me session, visit www.literacymerritt.com.