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Early Words is a Canadian Children's Literacy Foundation program that connects key professionals with resources to help families get their little ones off to a good start.

The program collaborates with clinics, hospitals and communities to help families build strong baby brains and lay a foundation for literacy. We want to inspire families to start young children on a joyful reading journey by surrounding them with words right from birth.

We’ve started with healthcare professionals as nearly all families with young children are in contact with healthcare providers. Early Words provides:

  • early literacy support to help providers start conversations with families
  • practical resources to keep things going at home
  • help getting high-quality children’s books into little hands.

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Professional Development

Parent and child playing with blocks

Online Learning Module

Together with the Canadian Paediatric Society, we are pleased to present the accredited CPD module Early Literacy Promotion: The A-B-Cs for busy clinicians.

Access the module

Check out the science and get brain-building tips to share. (2:31)

The opportunity in healthcare

"Talking to parents about the benefits of reading, speaking, and singing with their children from birth is something health care providers can do in virtually any context…" - Canadian Paediatric Society

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"Infants and young children are in contact with the health care system from the beginning. It is natural to use this system to provide early guidance and support." Nat. Strategy for Early Literacy

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"Evidence suggests that when physicians give a 'prescription' for reading, families heed this advice." - Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Position Statement, Early Childhood Development

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The Canadian Medical Association recommends physicians “include literacy promotion in routine clinical encounters with children of all ages.”

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Health Leaders Council

The members of our inaugural Health Leaders Council are Drs. Robin Williams (Chair), William Ehman, Isaac Elias, Sarah Gander, Alika LaFontaine, Leslie Rourke, Alyson Shaw, Holden Sheffield and Nicolas Steinmetz. 

We are grateful for the support, insights and enthusiasm shared by this distinguished group of early literacy champions.

Our Supporters

Our programming is enabled by financial, in-kind and volunteer support. We sincerely thank all those who make it possible for us to help families bring early literacy activities to life.

Community Partners and Advisors

  • Canadian Paediatric Society
  • Government of Nunavut
  • Friends of the Iqaluit Centennial Library
  • Qikiqtani Inuit Association
  • Ilitaqsiniq Nunavut Literacy Council
  • Inhabit Media and Inhabit Education
  • Iqaluit Public Health

Community Advisory Group

  • Sharn Peters
  • Ryan Downes
  • Angela Fong
  • Dominique Paré
  • Éléonore Meunier
  • Ashley Cid Pineda
  • Amy Ris
  • Navjot Kaur

Clinical Advisory Group

  • Louise Frydrych
  • Dr. Norm McLean
  • Kerian Duarte
  • Winnie Chan
  • Dr. Jessica Kainth
  • Sue Adams
  • Maria Emilia (Mila) de Melo
  • Lynn Kiraly-Batist


  • The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation
  • The Azrieli Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Anonymous Trust
  • CIBC Foundation
  • Healthy Horizons Foundation
  • Hewitt Foundation
  • Sifton Family Foundation
  • TELUS Friendly Future Foundation
  • TELUS Health

Connect with the Early Words team