FREDERICTON (GNB) – Children between the ages of nine and 12 (Grades 4 through 6) are encouraged to join a Hackmatack book club. The literacy program engages children to read and participate in activities related to books nominated for the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Awards.

“This competition is an important occasion to celebrate Canadian writers and encourage our children to get excited about reading,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault. “Reading helps develop the brains of young children, and, by encouraging them to read at an early age, we are equipping them for a successful academic future.”

The book club was established to improve literacy among school-aged children in Atlantic Canada while promoting the work of Canadian writers. Last year, 1,430 children registered for a Hackmatack club in New Brunswick.

“I urge all parents to engage their children in this competition to help them gain literacy skills, participate in fun activities and become more familiar with Canadian literature,” said Arseneault.

Each year, selection committees composed of library staff from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia nominate 40 Canadian books as candidates for the awards. The nominated books are available in public libraries. In April, participating children can vote for their favourite book in each category: English fiction, English non-fiction, French fiction and French non-fiction. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Halifax on May 5, 2017.

This is the 18th year for the book awards. Children can register for the book club until Dec. 31 at their local public library. More information on the competition is available online.