Noreen Keen teaches at Fairview Community School. The school library received money from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. (Photo submitted)

Editorial: School libraries need stocking

As school boards try to manage budget challenges, library bookshelves don’t always get prioritized.

Funding for Fairview Community School library is what we might call a good news story, at least on the surface.

The elementary school received enough funding from the Indigo Love of Reading foundation for an extreme makeover that is filling up the bookshelves.

Unfortunately, not every school library is so well-stocked. As school boards continue to try to manage budget challenges, library bookshelves don’t always get prioritized. It’s a generalization, but school libraries might not have the same supplies or staffing that they had a generation ago.

Schools should have books that kids want to read. If they don’t have storybooks, then students start associating math textbooks with reading, and some of them might develop negative associations with books. It’s easy to see how that could extend to a child’s enthusiasm for school and learning.

There’s an argument that reading material is changing and it is true that stories are being told in other ways than in the past. But we think school libraries and classroom bookshelves still have an important role. Reading results in a kind of thinking and imagining that’s different than what other mediums offer.

Children learn in a lot of ways and there are many who will embrace books and reading, especially if we make it easy for them with well-stocked libraries. They can judge a good book by its cover. So we should do our best to present them with those choices and hopefully develop a generation of discerning readers who become discerning thinkers.

A new B.C. government could have different ideas about education funding, and we will see some of that in the months to come. But it’s a certainty that school district budgets will continue to leave some gaps on the bookshelves, so to speak. There are a number of ways to supplement ministry efforts to support literacy initiatives. We can buy books from – and donate books to – Literacy Central Vancouver Island. We can round up our purchases at Chapter’s for charity. We can support PAC bake sales. Probably it will take all of these things, plus other strategies.

Because much depends on giving kids the right books at the right time.

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