Our mission is to encourage and enable community partners to prevent criminal behaviour through the promotion of literacy among young people via libraries and schools. In other words, we are “fighting crime, one book at a time.”
Frequently Asked Questions:
Crime and Literacy: what’s the connection?
As a joint report from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) put in a recent report, “literacy equals crime prevention.” It’s as simple as that. Literacy skills give one the ability to understand and use printed information in daily activities, and according to Corrections Canada, it’s something that 65% of inmates don’t possess.
Want some more facts and figures?
- Children in high-risk communities who take part in pre-school literacy programs have about half the arrest rates of adults and youth who did not have access to the same programs (High/Scope Perry Preschool Study).
- Those who do not read regularly have significantly lower reading comprehension ability than those who do, which can lead to a progressive downward spiral toward crime (Prison Reading Survey).
- Early prevention strategies that include literacy can help reduce risk factors such as poverty, unemployment and isolation – all of which can lead to crime (Literacy British Columbia).
- It’s clear that there is a statistically significant connection between repeat offending and poor literacy (Centre for Longitudinal Studies).
- 79% of people entering Canadian correctional facilities don’t have their high school diploma. 65% have less than a grade 8 education (CAPC, Policeabc.ca).
- Nearly one out of every nine Canadian children lives in poverty, and socio-economic status continues to be the most important determinant of educational and social outcomes.
What is the history of the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program?
Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable John Kennedy founded the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program (AALLP) in order to take a proactive approach to fighting crime. His slogan “Fighting Crime One Book at a Time” epitomizes this approach.
From its inception, it was clear that, even with the support of the RCMP, AALLP was a mission that was going to require partnering with local communities. Teaming up with the innovative librarians at the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL), Constable Kennedy was able to steadily increase the amount of community support, as well as the number of children that AALLP would be able to reach and engage.
Constable Kennedy and other community policing officers act as a “bridge” fostering good working relationships between libraries, schools and other community groups, enabling the communities to, in effect, “adopt” the mission and resources of their public libraries.The schools provide the venue, allowing the police and libraries to reach the children and motivate them to read.
What makes AALLP such an innovative idea?
With local, grassroots organizations popping up all over the place and achieving success through close communication through social media, there has simply never been a better time for a program like AALLP to thrive.
AALLP can be an umbrella, a stepping stone, a bridge (choose your own metaphor!), but one thing it is decidedly not is a top-down, rule-heavy organization. On the contrary, we rely on community partners and local activities to help the program grow. We provide resources, contacts, branding and anything else we can… but at the end of the day, you get to decide what AALLP means to you and your local partners. You choose the strategies, activities, books and promotions that work best your community. We want to help you spread literacy. That’s all. The only thing we ask in return is that you do your best to make AALLP a worldwide success, something that helps youth all over the world discover a life-long love of reading.
What is the WOW! Reading Challenge World Literacy Championship?
Perhaps the best-known aspect of AALLP’s literacy outreach is the tremendous success of the WOW! Reading Challenge World Literacy Championship, a partnership between schools, community police and public libraries. The WOW! Challenge was created to encourage kids to read regularly by introducing a friendly competition between schools for trophies, prizes and an award ceremony.
How else do you help kids learn to love reading?
AALLP connects kids with a love of reading in a vast number of ways – and with each new chapter that is formed, we get a greater number of ideas that we get access to. Everyone brings their own imagination to the table.
Some of the strategies that we have, in addition to the WOW Reading Challenge include:
- Prize Patrol (Get Caught Reading!)
- Building partnerships for book funds
- Library programming supplies
- Build bridges between the partners in order to obtain material for librarians to promote literacy.
Where do all these books get stored?
At one of our WOW! Book Shops.
Who is involved?
Anybody can be involved! Local business owners, police, librarians, educators, service clubs, individuals… anyone with a passion for helping children learn to read and thereby improving their quality of life. For a list of some of the groups and individuals who have helped make a difference so far, check our Initiatives.
How can I help?
Check out our Help page to see a list of some suggested ways that you can be a part of Adopt-a-Library.