Bookman boosts literacy with gifts to Promontory teachers

Chilliwack bookstore partners with schools to bulk up library shelves

Through a high white arch, there’s a special little place that’s filled with endless adventure.

Stepping through, you’ll laugh with Clementine, Matilda, and Amelia Bedelia. You’ll come nose-to-nose with Clifford, go on an adventure with Stuart Little and perhaps even catch a glimpse of Aslan.

This little place is found in the heart of downtown Chilliwack, literally, in the children’s section at the entrance to The Bookman. And on Tuesday afternoon, children’s stories of every type were flipped through, pored over and lovingly considered to be added to Promontory Heights classroom libraries. Several of the elementary school’s teachers, and their teacher librarian Catherine Davies, were invited into the store as part of a literacy campaign called the Bookman Boost.

This little outing got its start back in the beginning of the school year, when Promontory Heights elementary students took part in their school-wide read-a-thon. They read books of their choice for half an hour or an hour depending on their age, in school. Their parents and grandparents were invited to join, and the kids brought in their blankets and pillows to settle in for a comfortable and quiet afternoon of reading.

And they also brought in pledges. The students managed to raise $1,000 toward new books for their school, to be divided among all the teachers. The Bookman Boost is a matching program available to all schools with similar fundraisers, bringing their grand total of book-buying power to $2,000.

With 25 classrooms now at the school, it’s worked out to a shopping spree per teacher of $80, which any Bookman aficionado will know goes a long way — especially when buying pre-loved books and using your own return credits.

And the books will go a long way, too. Davies says as the school’s librarian she spends about $300 of her own money on books alone for the school, in addition to the school’s library budget. Of course, all teachers are known to dip into their own bank accounts to pad their libraries. And that’s exactly why The Bookman created the Boost.

Amber Price, owner of the downtown store, explains that her mom was a school teacher and so the Price family knows both the dollar value and the education value of having plenty of reading material in a classroom.

“There are students out there who may not have even one book in their home,” Price says.

They’ve been offering The Bookman boost in Abbotsford and Chilliwack for about six or seven years, she says, but not many schools have taken them up on the offer. Central elementary loves to use the program, and they’ve found many ways to distribute books out to their students. One teacher even brought a class over and allowed each student to pick their very own book to take and to keep.

And while the focus for many primary teachers would be in the children’s section, Price also pointed out the many other sections of the store that would appeal to different types of readers, from science and arts, to teacher resource materials. There’s really no limit to what a teacher can spend their portion of the Boost on, Price says, and the funds stay on account and roll over, year after year.

“Anything we can do to help those precious dollars go further,” she says.

To learn more about ways The Bookman can help your school, visit www.bookman.ca.

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