Madison-reads-300x249I love the image in our masthead. The baby, all of 9 months old, is in command of that book! She holds the pages while intently studying the image that has captivated the readers of Dr. Seuss for generations. And she already knows that when she is ready to move on, she has only to turn the page for another few moments of fascination.

Just as compelling are the adult hands supporting her – one at her back and one just at the corner of the book. This Mom knows the subtlety of support required at this moment for both standing and “reading”. She puts the books into the hands of her daughter and reads the singsong sentences at a pace set by that very young reader. Mom’s hands are ready, but waiting, to provide that “just right” assistance.

We know that children who have these natural and consistent early learning times with trusted adults enter the world of school well prepared for its literacy demands. And we may think that here in South Vancouver Island, all children cuddle and love books as babies and toddlers. Sadly, this is not true. A readiness assessment (Early Learning Development Instrument) used by many Kindergarten teachers on the lower Island and across the province indicates wide discrepancies and great need across our whole region. In some neighbourhoods, 30% of our children are not familiar with the delights and demands of books. And in all neighbourhoods, there are some children who lack the early learning that allows them to smoothly transition into kindergarten. These children struggle, even with extra school assistance, to catch up to their peers. Often they turn away from books and reading rather than face daily frustration. There is a high cost, both to the individual and to society that is always stronger with literate citizens.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 14.38.381000 X 5 Children’s Book Recycling Project is helping to change these stats. By donating over 200,000 books in seven years to families with babies and toddlers, we are enabling more children and families to experience the joy and success of early reading. Perhaps the greatest strength of the project is that 1000 X 5 donates every month to agencies that work with families. That means that every month, a child may select a gift bag of 3 books. Soon the pile of books at home begins to look like a library! Research supports that books in the home of babies and toddlers is the single greatest factor in creating early literacy. Story after story from South Island families and agencies document the success of 1000 X 5 in supporting the development of new reading habits.

At the end of the book, both Mom and daughter smile. And then the infant flips the book to the front and fumbles to open to the first page. Mom’s hand moves to gently assist. In another few months, our young reader will have the refrain that every adult has heard at least one thousand times before age five: “Read it again!”

If you would like to help 1000 X 5 provide that “just right” support to hundreds of appreciative families – go to the Donate button; select one of the three projects, follow the easy instructions, and receive a chartable tax receipt for your good work. We thank you.

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