Indigo program gifts books to high-needs elementary school libraries

(Caio Resende/Creative Commons)

“I hope books never see a day where they are never going to be in book form.”

– Liza Brown, principal of Muskoday First Nation Community School

Book shelves in two school libraries in the Prince Albert area are about to get a little more full.

West Central Public School in Prince Albert and Muskoday First Nation Community School are two of 182 across Canada chosen to receive new books through the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation’s Adopt a School program.

Schools are ‘adopted’ by local Indigo, Chapters and Coles stores, which fundraise on their behalf to upgrade the schools’ libraries.

Each school’s online registry consists of 50 books that people can buy during the campaign, which takes place from Sept. 14 to Oct. 6. When a book is purchased, Indigo provides an additional copy to the school. You can also donate in store.

“A lifelong love of reading and educational success is possible for every Canadian child,” said Heather Reisman, Chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, in a news release.

Reisman said public elementary schools are facing low library budgets, leaving teachers reaching into their own pockets for educational resources. This is why Indigo founded the Love of Reading Foundation in 2004.

This year, Coles in the Gateway Mall is adopting West Central Public School and Eastgate Square Coles is adopting the Muskoday First Nation Community School.

Matthew Gray is in his second year as principal of West Central Public School.

He said it’s important to have the right library materials to foster reading in students.

“They just need variety so they can find the book that fits them and I think once they find that book that fits them, that love of reading kind of spurts from there,” he said.

“We’ve got a big group of readers and a big group of writers. More books is always better because they’re always looking for a variety and the new stuff out there.”

West Central Public School teaches kindergarten to grade eight and has just over 100 students. Gray said being in a more rural area, lots of the students are coming from farms and acreages.

Gray said staff try to get them reading at a young age. As the students get older, he said it gets harder for them to get hooked on a book.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that right from the little person age, we keep those books in their hands and we keep them reading so that what they love about it never goes away.”

He added one of the school’s goals this year is to increase the students’ writing skills, and that means getting them drawn to books that suit their interests.

“To reach our writing goal and have Coles adopt us and support us in our reading goals is critical and to have that partnership is a wonderful thing,” he said.

For Muskoday First Nation Community School’s principal, being chosen for the Adopt a School program was like a welcome gift.

This is Liza Brown’s first year as principal there.

“Like many other schools, we’re trying to support and increase our students level of literacy,” she said, sending a big thank you to Indigo for choosing them.

“I tended to pick the books that were either speaking to character building or self esteem or better relationship building skills, those being the themes, as well as I did pick a couple that I knew were just an interesting story,” explained Brown.

Muskoday First Nation Community School has about 120 pre-kindergarten to grade nine students.

With so many people shifting from physical books to reading on an iPad, computer or e-reader, Brown said she’s happy the donation allows students to take home physical books.

“I hope books never see a day where they are never going to be in book form,” she said.

“But at the same time, as a teacher and as an educator, there’s all different kinds of learners, so the one thing we need to be aware of is that for some students, the book format and print format may better suit their needs for what it is they connect with.”

Muskoday First Nation is located about 20 minutes southwest of Prince Albert.