“Read it again!”
What parent hasn’t heard their child exclaim this hundreds of times over their favourite book?
But for parents living on a fixed income, this simple request isn’t always so easy. Books can be expensive and many families don’t have room in their budget for them. Local libraries are a great resource for children’s books, but library books must be returned, meaning a child often has to part ways with their most beloved stories.
Luckily, for children living in Greater Victoria, this problem has a solution in the 1000×5 Children’s Book Recycling Project. Starting on the Saanich Peninsula in 2008, and expanding to Victoria in 2011 and the Westshore in 2012, the project collects donated books for children ages one to five and redistributes them to families who might not be able to otherwise afford them.
“About every month or so I get a letter from somebody saying just how wonderful it’s been,” said Eileen Eby, project leader. “There was one little guy who was so upset and wouldn’t go to bed at night, and it was a stressful time for the family. When the books started coming they realized that was a real tool, and not only did he learn to love reading, he learned to go to bed nicely.”
The name speaks to the project’s goal of giving children the chance to have read and have read to them 1,000 books by the age of five. It’s known that children begin to develop literacy skills at the same time as language, in early infancy. It’s also known that having books in the home is a greater indicator of success in school than the education level of the parents.
Gently-used books are donated by families to elementary schools throughout the capitol region. For the Victoria project, the books are picked up and brought to Rockheights Middle School in Esquimalt. There a team of dedicated volunteers vets the books for condition and age appropriateness, cleans them up and packages them together for distribution.
The books are then trotted off to local agencies, such as the Mustard Seed Street Church, to be handed out to grateful families with young children.
“We feel good about what we’re doing,” said Erika Godfrey, a volunteer with the project. “We know that the families out there that are receiving the books are excited about getting them.”
Every month, 1,600 babies and toddlers end up with books thanks to 1000×5. In total, over 250,000 books have ended up in the hands of young children in the capital region as a result of the program. This is thanks to over 9,000 volunteer hours spent sorting and packaging books.
The project is always looking for books for babies and pre-schoolers, and ask anyone who has books to donate to do so through any elementary school on southern Vancouver Island.
Visit www.1000×5.ca for more information.