AMHERST - Monkeys of all ages invaded Spring Street Academy on Jan. 28, and it was all part of Family Literacy Day.
Hosted by Maggie's Place Family Resource Centre, in partnership with CAN-U and the Four Fathers Memorial Library, the free fun day of activities for families featured an appearance by children's author Sheree Fitch, with illustrator Sydney Smith, the team behind the popular book, There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen.
Despite icy road conditions, the event drew a large crowd of youngsters and parents, all participating in crafts and activities such as making monkey masks and tails, painting and more. Fitch read from her nook, while Smith demonstrated some of his illustration work for the book.
"All the activities today are based on things that happen in the book," said Carolyn d'Entremont, executive director of Maggie's Place. "It's just a chance for parents and children to go out together and play together."
Each child participating in the event took home an activity book and their own copy of There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, signed by Fitch and Smith.
Organizers were impressed with the turnout, after what was clearly a lot of work put into preparation.
"We've been partnering with Maggie's Place for the past five years in family literacy, not just for today, but for other events to encourage families to read and do things together at home," said Beth Smith, co-ordinator of the local CAN-U program. "It's to encourage literacy practices - reading, writing, and cooking together, playing together, and having some fun."
Staff from Maggie's Place, CAN-U and the library assisted with the event, many dressing for the occasion in wigs and costumes after characters in the book.
The goal of the event was to have literacy promotion extend into the homes, particularly with each child taking home a copy of the book, explained Smith.
"That will be something they have in their home to hopefully refer to and read to their families, and make it become common practice," she said.