Four Victoria bookstores are helping elementary school students with their back-to-school supplies.
Travis Richey, the librarian for both Rogers Elementary and Strawberry Vale Elementary, said books can cost between $10 to $30, and every year some are lost or damaged. While the elementary schools receive funding from the school district, it doesn’t always cover the demand, and Adopt A School is one of the fundraisers that can help.
“When you’re getting a couple thousand dollars here and there, that doesn’t actually end up being that many books,” Richey said. “You’re trying to say ‘yes’ to as many of those requests as possible, and also keeping up with the curriculum and offering books that teachers are going to be able to use and are going to captivate kids.”
The 2018 Adopt a School program will run for three weeks from Sept. 15 to Oct. 7. The high-needs schools in Victoria — Cloverdale Traditional School, Rogers Elementary and View Royal Elementary School — being fundraised for will get new books and educational resources. Fernwood Elementary in Salt Spring Island is also part of the program in the Capital Regional District. Each school gets the total amount fundraised, matched by a donation of up to $1,200, and 30 per cent off books at Indigo or Chapters when using the donated funds.
It’s the 10th year of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation’s Adopt a School program, helping raise awareness about how underfunded school libraries are in Canadian public elementary schools. Last year, it raised more than $1 million for Canadian schools in need, and 600 schools are signed up for the 2018 campaign — 73 in B.C. In a press release, the campaign outlines the reasons behind its cause: teachers are making up the lack of library funding out of their own pocket to the tune of $200 million every year. And the students are affected too, as 30 per cent of kids in Grade 3 are behind in basic literacy skills.
At George Jay Elementary, principal Terri Smith said their student population has doubled in seven years to 492 children, many coming from refugee families from Syria. She’s hoping the Adopt A School program will help them improve their fiction and nonfiction collection, especially for older readers in their English Language Learners program.
“We believe that the right book at the right moment can change a child’s life forever and yet too many children in high-needs elementary schools have limited access to books due to insufficient funding. All children deserve access to compelling books that can inspire them to fall in love with reading and to become engaged learners,” Ariel Siller, the executive director of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, said in a press release.
Even though the program only launched three days ago, Richey said Rogers and Strawberry Vale have already received enough donations to purchase 20 books, and are hoping to see more over the next few weeks.
Donations can be made through the stores that have adopted the schools or online for even more libraries via AdoptASchool.Indigo.ca. The Victoria stores involved in the campaign are Victoria Chapters, Tillicum Smithbooks, Westshore Town Centre Coles and Richmond Centre.