Share the Magic

The Honorable Christine Melnick

“I’m a person of the book” said Christine Melnick by way of introducing herself. On Tuesday night I was a guest of Christine Melnick, the Manitoba minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism. She had invited members of the Manitoba Writer’s Guild to a reception in her office at the legislature to hear more about a personal project of hers called Share the Magic. Ms. Melnick, who has a master’s degree in library science from Dalhousie University is a passionate believer in the power of the written word to change people’s lives.  She told us that one book can turn someone into a life long reader and then who knows where they can go after that!

Christine has developed a program called Share the Magic, through which she collects  books and then gives them away to people of all ages across the province who don’t have many books. She says so far she has given away over 65,000 books.  This is a personal project of Christine’s. She has invested her own money in it and is a very ‘hands on’ participant.  She loads boxes of books into the back seat and trunk of her car and carts them to various community events for distribution. Christine says she would never give away a book as part of Share the Magic that she wouldn’t give to family or friends, so she personally repairs donated used books that have too much wear and tear before redistributing them. 

First Book Canada Poster

Right now she is working on an ambitious project with the Winnipeg School Division in cooperation with First Book Canada and an American corporate donor to place at least five books in every home in inner city Winnipeg for the Christmas holidays. Christine cites research that shows kids’ reading levels are negatively impacted by long school holiday breaks unless they have access to reading materials. 

Skownan First Nation children choosing books

One thing that impressed me about Christine’s approach was the element of choice that is an integral part of Share the Magic. It is important for people not to just be given books, but to choose books. She talked about a North Point Douglas Children’s Fair where she spread the contents of dozens of boxes of books on tables and then allowed children to pick any ten they liked. Within just a short period of time she had given away 1,300 books. Children didn’t just grab books but took time to really look at them and pick the ones that interested them.

Headingley Correctional Institute

Share the Magic also targets adult populations that may not have access to reading materials. When Christine investigated making more books available to women at the Headingley Correctional Institute she discovered they wanted travel books, dictionaries for Scrabble game help, books to help them learn new languages, biographies and books about animals. They had no interest in books about romance or crime.

Christine speaks to students at Gray Academy who donated 1,700 books to Share the Magic

Christine was full of stories about how she has seen books inspire people, trigger an emotional response in people and empower them. She wanted to make our writers’ group aware of her project because she is always looking for donations of books as well as suggestions for avenues via which she can distribute them to people in the community.  

In a Winnipeg Free Press article Christine said, “This is a literate world. And God help the child who can’t read.”  Christine is certainly giving God a little help in the literacy department with her Share the Magic project. 

If you’d like to donate books or you know where books might be needed in the province you can contact Christine’s executive assistant Cindy Edmonds at 204-253-5162.

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Categories: Literature, Point Douglas, Politics | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Share the Magic

  1. Vanessa

    Hi, I am a parent of a grade 3 student at Weston School here in Winnipeg. It has come to my attention recently how dire that school’s library books could use an upgrade. This is a school from grades K-6. Most of their books are avg 11 yrs old if not older. There science, technology books are running avg from the 1980’s circa. Those are books I would have read in school, which just disappoints me greatly because sciences have come along way since then. I along with another parent are shooting to get donations of gently used- new educational books hopefully 100 would be nice to give these kids a refresh and get them reading in the current era and get them excited to read. We are trying to achieve this goal by before Christmas break or for the “I love to read” month in February. Look forward to a response and thank you for your time.

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