The Adopt-a-Literacy Program

Constable John Kennedy, RCMP

Summary by Convenor:  Sonia Smith

Constable John Kennedy was born in Nova Scotia and he, together with his wife and two kids, founded The Adopt-a-Library Literacy program to help their local Library. As a police officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Constable Kennedy saw first-hand that it was common for individuals who came into contact with the criminal justice system to have lower literacy levels. His passion for the power of literacy led him to establish the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program (AALLP) in order to take a proactive approach to fighting crime. It was built on the concept of “fighting crime one book at a time”.  

In front of a packed audience, John shared the conclusion on the joint report from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) that “literacy equals crime prevention.” Literacy skills gives 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.

The Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program mission is to encourage and enable community partners to prevent criminal behavior through the promotion of literacy among young people through libraries and schools. Constable Kennedy and other community policing officers act as a “bridge” promoting good relationships between libraries, schools and other community groups. The schools provide the venue, allowing the police and libraries to reach the children and motivate them to read.

John then presented the WOW! Reading Challenge World Literacy Championship Program, a partnership between schools, community police and public libraries. A very interesting concept, 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. This program is open to all levels of education, from elementary to post-secondary schools worldwide.

John concluded his presentation by encouraging the audience to work together with different groups and sectors in a community in order to foster and increase the literacy of the population.