1000×5 children’s book project set to mark major milestone

A group of dedicated volunteers – all retired educators – spend Wednesday mornings sorting books at Rockheights Middle School in Esquimalt for 1000 × 5.

“Literacy is so important to me and most of us here,” explains 1000 × 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project volunteer Eileen Eby. “We have championed early literacy, each and every one of us, in our careers.”

The 1000 × 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project donates books to babies and preschool-age kids in Greater Victoria and it’s about to hit a major milestone.

“We’ve given out 268,0000 books in Victoria but if you combine us with the Peninsula project and the West Shore project, we’re actually nudging 500,000 – half a million books into homes where families need them,” Eby said.

It’s based on the idea that if a child hears a thousand stories by age five – and that includes favorite stories repeated – they’ll be better prepared for kindergarten.

“It really provides a lot of opportunities for families to start developing early literacy skills for students and that is crucial as they prepare to transition into our school system,” Rockheights Middle School principal Aaron Maxwell explains.

Pink book donation bins are set up in 37 local elementary schools and after they’re cleaned and sorted, between 800 and 2,500 books are given out every month through partnerships with dozens of non-profits like the Mustard Seed.

“1000 × 5 has made it possible for low income families using our food bank on a regular basis to access quality books,” says Mustard Seed’s Diane Pearson. “Families love the books and parents recognize the value of reading, being read to, and the world of stories for their children.”

“If you get it from library, you have to take it back,” points out long-time 1000 × 5 volunteer Anne Knoke. “And often these families can not even get to the library, so how nice is this gift we’re giving them that they can enjoy and read over and over?”

Knoke, who was a teacher for 35 years, has volunteered with 1000 × 5 since it was started more than a decade ago.

“I love books and I just think its such a gift to give a child a book, sit curled up with a child reading, it’s such a wonderful experience,” Knoke says with a smile.

Many of the volunteers have been with the 1000 × 5 book project since it began 12 years ago and it’s incredibly rewarding work.

“It makes me realize that I’m working towards a sense of purpose, or something that matters in society and I feel gratified that I can take a lead in that,” Eby says.

READ MORE: 1000 × 5 Children’s Literacy Project is helping little ones learn to read

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