FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing more than $140,000 to help families encourage a love of reading at an early age. Premier Brian Gallant highlighted the programs today in conjunction with New Brunswick Literacy Day.

“Improving literacy rates is crucial for the New Brunswick economy and one of the best ways to reduce poverty in our province,” said Gallant. “That is why we have earmarked $7 million to invest in literacy programs such as Born to Read.”

Gallant spent some time today reading to young children in Fredericton to highlight the Born to Read and Le goût de lire programs.

Under these programs, parents of each newborn receive a free gift bag of books suitable to be read to infants. The bag also contains information describing and promoting the importance and benefits of early childhood literacy. Parents can choose books in either English or French.

“This year the Born to Read and Le goût de lire programs are marking our 20th anniversary of service to parents and infants in New Brunswick,” said Shirley Downey, president of Born to Read New Brunswick Inc. “We are very grateful for the support received from the provincial government, not only through funding but also through the generous efforts of public employees who work in hospitals and the public health system, the provincial library system and early childhood services. This support demonstrates the government’s real commitment to early childhood and family literacy, and is also a much appreciated vote of confidence in the wonderful work being done by our broad network of volunteers, literacy specialists, professional associations and health-service providers who are essential in the delivery of these programs throughout our province.”

“Over the past 20 years, Le goût de lire has been co-ordinating distribution of a book bag for babies,” said the president of Le goût de lire, Jocelyne Lavoie. “We are proud of the partnership created with many stakeholders to make it a success. Thanks to the government for its financial contribution, to the faithful hospital staff, to public nurses, to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and to the public libraries. The sustained effort from each of us will allow New Brunswick newborns to benefit from their first reading experiences in an environment filled with love and trust.”

Language development begins before birth, making parents and families instrumental to literacy success. The first three years of a child’s life is the biggest window of opportunity to influence them in a way that will create a lifelong foundation for success in school and life.

The goal of Unleashing the power of literacy: New Brunswick’s Comprehensive Literacy Strategy is to improve literacy across the province. It includes actions to support New Brunswickers from birth throughout their lives so every person has the opportunity to develop their literacy competencies.