It's my birthday weekend! Celebrate with me!


When I moved to Prince Edward County, I knew that it had an exceptional independent bookstore, a vibrant Author’s Festival, and hearty literary roots: Janet Lunn, beloved author of The Root Cellar, lived here, and Al Purdy’s A-Frame cottage is now a writers’ residency.

It’s a wonderful place for a writer to live, and I feel fortunate to call the County my home.

What I didn’t know: in Prince Edward County, children’s literacy scores and skills are significantly below provincial standards.  Yes, Prince Charles visited this summer, and yes, Vogue just featured a piece about travelling here. It’s exciting: new wineries, breweries, fancy shops, and boutique hotels are popping up everywhere.

When there’s so much attention surrounding the commercial growth of the area and the famous people who are coming to visit, it’s unsettling to remember that the average family income in PEC falls significantly below the Ontario average.

I’ve started to work with County Kids Read, an organization that provides books to the low income families and at-risk kids in my community. 

Studies show that the only behaviour that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. 

County Kids Read is addressing the link between poverty and literacy by working to make sure every child in the County owns their own books.

For young people, reading in libraries and classrooms does not have the same positive effect as owning your own books. What makes County Kids Read extra-special: they hand-pick titles for children specifically, based on their ages, strengths, and interests. 

It’s a feat of organization to distribute books with so much customized care! And this kind of personal attention makes a huge difference. This incredible program works because of volunteers. 

For my birthday this year, I want to give books to County Kids Read, for the at-risk children in my community. You can help!

For every writer who enrols in The Story Course this weekend (September 16-17, 2017), I am giving $75 worth of books to County Kids Read. 

The Story Course is an innovative creative writing program you can finish in about 8 weeks (more or less, depending on your schedule). It’s completely self-paced and downloadable. 

It includes: a 157-page (both print and audio) coursebook with lessons and instructions, a companion volume of readings (copyright fees included with your tuition), audio lectures, instructional videos, transcripts, and access to a private online community of writers who are also in the program. 

If you’ve been considering The Story Course this year, today would be a special day to get it for yourself (or someone else!). You can start writing, right now. And you’ll be putting these books into the hands of kids at the same time.


ps. Read more about early childhood literacy. pps You can also get involved with another amazing (international) literacy organization — Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library!

Photo credit: Johnny CY Lam.

A character prompt that turned into a book.
Hello from the rabbit hole.

1 comment


Awesome organization! Happy (belated) Birthday! I'm already in SSM, but you've inspired me to make a book donation this year. Literacy work had slipped off my radar lately. Glad to be reminded. Also, there's so much joy in that photo. Thank you for sharing it!
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