Daphne Macnaughton, centre, stands with volunteers at the 1000*5 Book Recycling Program at the Individual Learning Centre. (Hugo Wong/News staff) Daphne Macnaughton, centre, stands with volunteers at the 1000 x 5 Book Recycling Program at the Saanichton Individual Learning Centre. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Book recycling program helps Peninsula families

It has been 12 years since Daphne Macnaughton was principal of Saanichton Elementary where she started redistributing children’s books to families in need.

Since then, the elementary school has been transformed into the Individual Learning Centre with a hair school, trades education, and more. But Macnaughton still returns every Thursday from 9 until noon to clean and sort those books with a dedicated team of volunteers.

Macnaughton said the program is called the “1000 x 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project” because children are more likely to succeed in school if children have had 1000 books read to them by the time they are five, which, “if you do the arithmetic, is not even a book a day.”

“In all the years I worked in public education, I met some children coming into kindergarten every year who had either no experience with books, they didn’t know what a book was, or their experience was very, very limited,” said Macnaughton.

She said that such children start school with delays in language development, general knowledge and literacy.

”They don’t know that the words on the page are where the story comes from. They think the story is coming from the teacher and the pictures,” she said.

These children in turn require more time in learning assistance apart from fellow students, so this program is an exercise in prevention.

“We know that we can’t fix everything that is a challenge for children and there are some kids with genuine learning difficulties but there’s a lot we can do,” said Macnaughton.

The group is strict about the books they accept. They reject overly commercial books, Barbie books, Disney books with “scantily clad heroines,” and books with violence. Books meant for older readers are passed onto homework clubs. Red polka-dotted bags are for babies and toddlers, green bags are for ages 3-4 years, and blue bags are for ages 5-6. The group also tries to put a new book and a non-fiction book in every bag, as well as include a variety of physical sizes so titles are visible through the plastic.

They also inspect books for physical condition, using a melamine sponge or eraser where necessary.

“If a book doesn’t look like a gift, then we don’t give it out.”

A label is affixed to the inside cover which encourages caregivers to read to children and acknowledges sponsors. If a book comes back to them with this label already attached, it is marked with a dot to track how many times it recirculates. Some books come back four or five times which Macnaughton said is “exactly what we want to see happening.” Books are then distributed at various places on the Peninsula like the Sidney Lions’ Food Bank, community health facilities, and public libraries.

To support the project, Macnaughton relied on an extensive network. She first approached friends for sorting help, then Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood and Beacon Community Services which acts as a financial steward. She approached the school district, where she worked for 20 years, and asked for working space, other schools to serve as donation drop-off points, and the district courier to deliver donations to the group for sorting. All said yes.

Macnaughton also applies for grants, which she said is “incredibly time consuming” because each grant has a different application process and deadline. They also require her to write mid-year and final reports. She also meets with service clubs like the Rotarians and attends public meetings at local government. A chance meeting with someone from Orca Books resulted in them selling new books to the program at cost.

She has applied to the District of Central Saanich for funding (she was councillor Niall Paltiel’s elementary school principal), but she is not certain she will get it. As of last week the group has moved 127,841 books (they count them all), so the group has moved “many libraries worth of books.”

She hopes that she can meet more people who can support the project in some way, financial or otherwise. Macnaughton can be contacted at dlmvictoria@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

Watch for high winds today and tomorrow

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria. According to Environment… Continue reading

Victoria Harbour most polluted on B.C. coast: study

City’s industrial past and more recently, pharmaceuticals, create high levels of pollutants

Experts to capture and collar 20 female deer in Oak Bay starting this month

Does sedated, examined, collared and ear tagged in latest phase of deer management plan

Beauty Day at Our Place a chance to rise above daily struggles

Annual pampering event draws women of all ages and circumstances

Victoria dog attacked by otters off Dallas Road

Off-leash dogs and wildlife can make for a poor mix, veterinary staffer says

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read