Okanagan authors promote literacy

Laurie Carter was one of 12 authors at Mosaic Books Saturday promoting International Literacy Day. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Laurie Carter was one of 12 authors at Mosaic Books Saturday promoting International Literacy Day.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Twelve local authors showed off their publications Saturday at Mosaic Books and helped further the message that literacy is the foundation of learning.

The event, held on International Literacy Day, was organized by Marilyn Strong. It aimed to bring public awareness of literacy in the community, promote some of the Okanagan's authors and provide Project Literacy Kelowna with books from those authors.

"(Executive director) Blair Lischeron was just astounded when I phoned him, told him what we were doing and asked if he would be interested in having copies of our books donated to (Project Literacy Kelowna's) library," said Strong.

Mosaic Books was quiet for the first hour of the event, but eventually it picked up and the authors were busy chatting with those interested in their work.

"It's downtown Kelowna and we know they're doing the construction, so we're thrilled with the turnout," said Strong.

One of the authors at Saturday's event was Ralph Milton.

Milton has lived in the region for over 20 years and written nearly 20 books.

"My books are a rare combination between spirituality on one hand and humour on the other," said Milton.

He mentioned he was happy to be a part of Saturday's event because literacy is a vital part of getting through day-to-day life.

"Literacy is desperately important for anybody that tries to survive in this culture.

"And by being able to read, I don't mean just being able to read the stop signs on the streets. I mean being able to sit down with something lengthy and enjoy reading it all the way through.

"From that comes great richness and power to life."

That depth is lacking in many messages that are delivered these days, he said.

"The problem with the media right now is the tendency to encapsulate everything. To try to describe reality with 200 words or a 20-second television sound bite, it oversimplifies reality."

Michele Neill, one of the owners of Mosaic Books, understands the importance of books in society.

The bookstore branched out Saturday and held the grand opening of its second location in Rutland.

Neill said the move was partially strategic during the downtown construction phase, but added there was demand for a bookstore in the area.

She said she's been encouraged by the age of many people walking into the bookstores.

"We're finding our strongest growth area is teens. They come in here constantly and buy stacks of books. You'd think they'd be getting into e-readers and stuff like that," said Neill.

"We get a lot of people that were given Kindles for Christmas, but they're still coming in and buying books."

For Strong, it doesn't matter how people choose to look at words, it's just important that they are reading.

"I don't care whether they borrow a book from the library, buy one, download one from Kindle, borrow one from a friend, it doesn't matter," said Strong.

"Reading is important."

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