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

Local tongue-in-cheek opportunists flog snow huts

‘Executive’ and ‘eco-friendly’ one-bedrooms pop up on Craigslist and Used Victoria

Province urges backcountry adventurers to stay safe this weekend

Search and rescue responded to 28 incidents last Family Day weekend

Snow storms prompt reminders to prepare for emergencies

Province reminds public of essential supplies

West Shore fundraiser serves up hope for kids with food allergies

Proceeds assist Oral Immunotherapy Research Program at BC Children’s Hospital

Langford could soon be seeing its first retail cannabis store

Clarity Cannabis BC Ltd. gets province’s approval

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read