The Winkler Imagination Library continues to make a difference in creating excitement for young readers. The program which provides kids with a free book by mail each month until they enter kindergarten has 730 children enrolled.
Committee member and Grade 1 Teacher, Debbie Doell said she recently asked a Kindergarten teacher whether she noticed more readiness skills of kids who had Imagination Library books. Doell says while the teacher was assessing children for letter identification, she came across one boy in particular who had a real fire for literacy. Doell said, "she (the teacher) didn't think that student would know too many letters, but when she got to him she was so surprised that he knew all the letters. He just rattled them off. When the teacher asked him how he knew all those letters, he told her his mom had been teaching him from the books they got in the mail." Doell said it turned out the mom couldn't read, but she had been teaching him, and they were working on sounds.
"This child didn't even need to play during centre time. All he wanted to do is look at books."
Meanwhile, a $10,000 grant from the Garden Valley School Division will go long way in making the work of the Imagination Library possible over the next number of months. Sawatsky says this donation is huge, as it will cover four months of expenses of mailing books to 730 children.
Sawatsky says it takes about $48,000 for the program to run for one year, and she says it's getting tougher to find ways to come up with that amount.
Sawatsky says the stories they hear from parents and teachers, and the growing excitement for literacy they see among kids, is the fire that keeps them motivated to work hard for the program.
Another positive for the Imagination Library is the shrinking waiting list. There are currently about 20 children on the list, and on average its taking about 2 to 3 months until they get enrolled and receiving books. Just over a year ago there were close to 50 children on the wait list, and it was taking about a month longer for kids to be enrolled.