The local philanthropy group 100 People Who Care Prince Edward care about children’s literacy as is evidenced in the recent cheque presentation of $11, 300 to County Kids Read.
With a mandate to ‘put a book in every child’s hand’, County Kids Read has an ever-growing objective but boasts upwards of 15 community partners to help achieve their goal.
Before accepting their donation, Anne Preston, Chair of County Kids Read, spoke to the importance of developing a love of literature in children and how they plan to use the donation to reach their goal.
“We want to use the books for what we would call reluctant readers-those children who are really hesitant about reading and not as comfortable with print,” said Preston, “And the other thing is we’re trying to do early literacy intervention so we’re looking at more books for the very young,” she added.
Preston hopes to expand the hi-low (high interest, low vocabulary) as well as the graphic novel section, noting that both are on the more expensive side.
“We were so honoured-thrilled-about this donation. This amount of money means an enormous amount to us,” Preston enthused.
“We source books everywhere and it’s a big project, going through about 500-700 books per month that we’re handing out,” she added.
Sarah Crawford, fellow member of County Kids Read, noted that they dole out approximately 5,000 books per year.
County Kids Read’s community partners include the Picton and Wellington Food Banks, Community Living Prince Edward and Reaching for Rainbows, to name a few.
With an emphasis on “a book for every child” the group wants to make sure that those families who may not otherwise be able to afford such books are able to access them.
“In middle-class families, the ratio is 30-40 books per child. In low-income families the ratio is one book for every 300 kids,” stated Preston, adding that the income gap speaks nothing to reluctant readers or those with other barriers.
According to Crawford, close to a quarter of children in Grade 3 who aren’t reading at grade level will not graduate high school.
“Our big thrust in the past couple of years has been early childhood literacy,” said Preston, “It’s so critical to the child’s success socially, economically and to the community as well.”
The group’s 30 or so volunteers work with children who come to County Kids Read on class visits. They also read to the children and help them select that “just right book” to take home.
Taking books home is a key element to the group, who stamps each book with an inscription that reads, “This Book Belongs To: _______” and allows the children to write their name in their own book.
“We’re not going to give out tatty books to children. We want them to have new books, to have good books, to have books that they really want to keep as their own,” said Preston.
Before handing over an envelope thick with donations, Richard Byers, member of 100 People Who Care, spoke of the important role County Kids Read plays in the community.
“You’re a perfect group for us to make a donation to, being small and not seen so much. Being decent people, we want to root out support for you and the members all feel the same way,” said Byers.