Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Books for Me! fosters the joy of reading at Graham Bruce Elementary school

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Literacy foundation builds new partnership in Renfrew-Collingwood

BY JULIE CHENG

Grade 1 students Matthew and Derek (left to right) proudly display the books they chose to take home with them. “The cover is very cool,” says Matthew. “I think this book is good,” says Derek. Photos by Julie Cheng

Grade 1 students Matthew and Derek (left to right) proudly display the books they chose to take home with them. “The cover is very cool,” says Matthew. “I think this book is good,” says Derek. Photos by Julie Cheng

“Thank YOU!” The heartfelt, joyous chorus of the students was music to the ears. As the grade 4/5 students filed out of the room, each clutching a book provided free by Books for Me!, Mary Ann Cummings beamed.

“It’s really wonderful to see how excited these kids are,” she said. Mary Ann is the president and a founding member of Books for Me! Literacy Foundation, a Vancouver-based charity that puts donations of new or gently used books directly in the hands of children.

Mid January, Mary Ann, Books for Me! secretary and co-founder Dana Hirst, first-time volunteer Mai Doan, along with teacher-librarian Dee Mochrie and principal Lani Morden, were on hand to deliver the first batch of books to Graham Bruce Elementary School students.

A retired lawyer, Mary Ann saw the importance of literacy first hand when she worked with prison inmates as a law student. “I became convinced literacy is the key—you need to have those skills to prosper in society,” she said.

Grade 1 student Jaylene carefully places a bookplate in her book with the  help of Dana Hirst, a founding member of Books for Me!

Grade 1 student Jaylene carefully places a bookplate in her book with the help of Dana Hirst, a founding member of Books for Me!

Indeed, you could say supporting children’s literacy is one of the best investments in the future. Studies show that children who have books in their home reach a higher education level.

As of January 1, 2014, Books for Me! has placed more than 14,700 books with kids through programs at 11 locations, including Collingwood Neighbourhood School, Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Thunderbird Community Centre.

Programs such as Books for Me! encourage reading in the home. As Family Literacy Day this January 27 highlighted, it is critical for parents and caregivers to read daily with their children and to make books and reading an integral part of their family lives. Reading, even 15 minutes a day, is important to a child’s development.

Books for Me! also organizes and funds school visits by children’s book authors. “We’re so excited because author Jacqueline Pearce is coming in April,” Principal Morden said.

Danny, Tanner, Sydney and Anya check out the variety of books on display.

Danny, Tanner, Sydney and Anya check out the variety of books on display.

Books for Me! welcomes volunteers and donations of books. If you are interested in volunteering or hosting a book drive at your place of work, please contact booksformevancouver@gmail.com. You can visit www.booksformevancouver.org for more information.

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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