During the morning hours of Dec. 20, students at King Edward Community School had a chance to bring home a little winter reading.
Perusing a plethora of titles, nursery students at the Selkirk Avenue school loaded up their tiny arms with the books of their choice, be it more mild fare like Dinosaur Vs. The Potty to origin stories of superheroes such as Iron Man or the X-Men. Throughout the day, the remainder of the school’s students, up to Grade 6, did the same, picking out age-appropriate titles.
It was all part of a partnership between First Book Canada, Share the Magic, Winnipeg School Division and Luke’s Machinery to bring more than 32,000 books to inner-city students at 21 schools. Of those, 1,500 made their way to King Edward.
Vice-principal Michelle Sacco and other members of King Edward’s staff made a trip earlier in December to Luke’s Machinery, which had agreed to warehouse the tens of thousands of donated books. They hand-selected some options for each of the school’s grade levels, and the books were delivered shortly after.
"It took about three hours, and we had to sort through hundreds of books to make sure we had the appropriate ones for each grade level," Sacco said.
The books are all brand new, recent releases. Each of the students at all of the chosen schools went home with five books to read during winter break.
Sacco said not only was it a generous gift for kids who might not otherwise have easy access to new books, it fits in well with the school’s endeavours to promote literacy.
"We’re ecstatic. In the inner city it’s really hard for families to have extra cash to buy books, and as educators we know how important it is for kids to have access to literature at home," Sacco said.
"And also, we’re starting a school-wide home reading program in January, so this came at the perfect time. It’s a great kick-off for us."
In addition to the books, which were donated by Disney Books, the students were also given tote bags by Peak of the Market to carry them home in, and Santa Lucia pizzeria donated stocking-shaped tags to label the bags with.
Share the Magic, which is privately operated by Riel MLA Christine Melnick, collects and distributes books throughout communities through giveaways like the one at King Edward.
"She selected our school this year, and we’ve never had this happen before, so we were super ecstatic," Sacco said.
First Book Canada, a group which works across the country, provides books and other resources to schools serving children from low-income families.