Last school year, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg launched a new Literacy Grants program. We received many project proposals from our members seeking to access $500 to fund community-based literacy projects. After much deliberation, we awarded the first two grants to École St. Malo School and the St. James-Assiniboia SD Summer Library Pilot Project. Write-ups about their projects are below.
We will hopefully be able to offer another call for Literacy Grant proposals this fall. Members: Check your inboxes and our website for details.
Little Free Library – École St. Malo School
PROJECT LEADER: RACHAEL MONT
When I told the students of École St Malo School that we had received a $500 grant to build a Little Free Library for our community, they were extremely excited. I wanted students to be a part of the project from the start, so we started with a school-wide design project, where students had the opportunity to research Little Free Libraries and submit a design that they would like to see. I then took all of their ideas, and incorporated aspects of them into the final design.
Our Little Free Library was built by an enthusiastic volunteer – otherwise known as my wonderful, long-suffering teacher husband – and installed outside our school in May. The impact on students and the wider community was instant and extremely positive: We contacted all parents to let them know that the library was open for them to use, and teachers have been bringing their students to the library to explain the system of "take a book, leave a book." Since then, students have been coming to me to proudly announce that they have exchanged some books in the little free library.
One of the goals of École St Malo School is to encourage a love of reading and books in our school, and in the wider community. The addition of our Little Free Library is a great step towards this goal!
Summer Library Pilot Project – St. James Assiniboia SD
PROJECT LEADER: ROLANDE GALKA
As Regie Routman writes in Reading Essentials, “Research tell us that children who do not read regularly throughout the summer months lose approximately three months of reading growth, while those who do read during the summer continue to make gains. In order to stem this cumulative loss of years over a school career, we must make getting books into children’s hands through the summer a whole-school priority" (p. 80).
With this in mind, a small group of invested educators from St. James-Assiniboia School Division set out to make this a reality for 12 lucky students who have inconsistent or unlikely access to books over the summer months. Six target schools selected two students to enjoy a book shopping excursion to Chapters Polo Park. Each child was invited to come and spend $40-$45 on personally engaging, self-selected books.
From the moment they entered through the doors, they were captivated. For some, it was the first time they had ever stepped foot into a bookstore. Many could hardly wait to start roaming the aisles, and were amazed at the choices that were available to them. Some students searched for books by their favourite authors; others looked for titles from popular series they had heard of or by preferred subject areas. All were challenged to limit themselves to the available budget and needed some adult support to help them make their final decisions. Once their final choices were made, the students enjoyed a few quiet moments in a sunny corner of the store to savour their new finds.
At the end of the shopping experience, the students openly shared their enthusiasm:
The grant money provided through the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg enabled these twelve students to select books that they will read over the summer months. Perhaps more important than this, however, is the possibility that these students will remember the joy of the day and choose to return to a book store in the future in order to experience this same feeling another time.
Tuesday, February 25 at 4:30 PM – Sisler High School. All members are invited. Contact Leslie Dickson if you will be attending.
We welcome book reviews, articles about teaching strategies, and other submissions. Please contact the Editor.