A tall cat in a striped stovepipe hat is making the rounds of elementary schools this week, encouraging kids to enjoy reading and to help others do the same.
The Heap the Honda children's book drive is stacking up donations for the fifth year running with a little encouragement from the Cat in the Hat character of Dr. Seuss fame.
Founding sponsor Kamloops Honda is once again backing the drive with a vehicle at the dealership ready to receive donations through Jan. 27. Books can be dropped off there or at other locations around town, including Interior Savings branches, Tournament Capital Centre, Westsyde Pool, both public libraries and Henry Grube Education Centre library.
In addition, Blazers fans can bring children's books to the game on Jan. 22 and donate them.
Yet it's local children and their families who represent the main conduit for getting books into the hands of their peers, said Fiona Clare, literacy outreach co-ordinator.
"Where we get most of the donated books is from elementary schools," she said. Eleven schools have taken up the challenge.
"We're going to visit those schools this week with the Cat in the Hat."
The January book drive helps spread the word about ABC Family Literacy Day, which takes place Jan. 25. Once the books are sorted, cleaned and labelled, they are distributed to social-service agencies and through the Bright Red Bookshelf Project. With support from Kiwanis volunteers, the project places free books on custom-built shelves designed to attract young readers.
Claire knows that those books are achieving the goal of improving literacy through reading.
"We can't keep books on the shelves and that's good news," she said. "They are constantly replacing them, so we know that those books are being taken and enjoyed."
She estimates, because there are too many to count, that between 12,000 and 15,000 books are donated each year.
They request gently used or new books, some of which will be given out on Family Literacy Day.
"We have to learn how to read - that's so critical - and we want them to enjoy reading," Clare said.
Not every family can afford to purchase new books, she added.
"The library is awesome, but these are books you can keep. It's important for every child to have books at home that belong to them."
Heap the Honda is based on an idea borrowed from Vernon, where a similar event is called Fill the Fit. Since then, Salmon Arm has added its own chapter - Jam the GM.
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