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Kids get early read on literacy thanks to Peninsula-based book recycling project

Peninsula 1000 x 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project has collected about 180,500 books since 2008
Nancy Dobbs, Paulette Kushner and Daphne Macnaughton of the Peninsula 1000 x 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project hold up bags of books ready to go out to children aged birth to five. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

The book has reopened on a popular Saanich Peninsula early childhood reading program disrupted by COVID.

The Peninsula 1000 x 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project — which shares the benefits of reading with pre-schoolers — is back for its 15th year following the interruptions.

Working in collaboration with Saanich School District 63, the literacy program collects, refurbishes, and distributes children’s books across the region through a range of organizations, giving children an opportunity to have heard 1,000 stories before they enter Kindergarten.

“I worked in public education for 37 years and every year I met some kids, who came to Kindergarten, who had not had a single book read to them before they came to school,” said project leader Daphne Macnaughton. “And all of the educational research says that children, who have been read to on a regular basis, have an increased likelihood of early success in school.”

Regular reading to babies, toddlers and young children helps to build language, general knowledge, and perspective, fostering empathy and compassion along the way, said Macnaughton.

It also helps reduce stress, with Macnaughton comparing the act of reading for 20 minutes to a holiday from daily worries.

RELATED: Family Literacy Week in Greater Victoria reminds of the importance of reading

Macnaughton said the project has collected more than 180,500 books since its launch in 2008.

“I can tell you that elementary school libraries have about 12,000 to 13,000 books in them, a middle school library has about 20,000 to 23,000 books and Sidney-North Saanich branch (has) about 35,000 books (in addition to its other holdings),” she said. So that’s many libraries’ worth of books.”

The project operates out of the Individual Learning Centre in Central Saanich with volunteers working there from 9:30 a.m. until noon every Thursday to get the books ready for distribution.

About 2,500 children receive books each year, some multiple times, said Macnaughton.

It collects books through school district schools, the Peninsula Co-op Food Centre, Peninsula Early Years Centre, ad the municipal halls of North and Central Saanich. It also receives support through the ORCA Book Publishers by way of donations and discounts, donations from service clubs and from Beacon Books in Sidney.

British Columbians mark literacy month in September. According to Decoda Literacy Solutions, more than 700,000 British Columbians have significant challenges with literacy.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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