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

Norma Stewart joins Langford council

Stew Young beats challenger Robert Fraser

Rob Martin is the new mayor of Colwood

Martin will be joined by four new faces on council

West Shore voters run to the polls in the final minutes

Approximately 4,500 votes cast in Colwood

Results are in for the District of Metchosin

Ranns to serve another term as Metchosin mayor with two new council members

Two new faces on the Sooke School Board

Bob Beckett and Allison Watson become SD62 trustees

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Most Read