“Our reading records show that our students reading comprehension has increased a whopping 17 per cent over the last two years since our indigo journey (began),” said Rona Pelletier, school social worker and writer of the winning grant.
“It’s made a big difference,” Pelletier said.
As Westview is a relatively new school, it began with spartan shelves in its library and a minimal first year budget of $10,000 for books.
“That included your supplies, not just the books, because you have to put labels on them, put covers on them. So $10,000 does not go very far at all.”
The couple of boxes that they brought back today cost around $2,000, said Eleanor McGillivray, the library technician.
“So you can imagine with $10,000 you’re very picky with what you get,“ McGillivray said.
The school takes all of its students to Indigo books store in Saskatoon where they each get to pick two books to carry back to school with them. One goes into the school library; the other into their classrooms where they get first chance to read it.
“They say ‘can we get this book,’ and we say ‘yes.’ That’s pretty cool for a kid,” Pelletier said.
“They do a very good job of choosing," McGillivray said.
Around 250 students make the trip each year adding 500 new books to their shelves, ad to that the picks made by staff and the library has gained about 2,000 books a year, McGillivray said.
Pelletier was involved in the grant writing that landed the school this three-year project. She also got the Ice Hawks involved as the school's transportation.
“If you don’t like to read, you’re not going to succeed.” - Eleanore McGillivray
The Prince Albert Ice Hawks have been supporters of this initiative since the beginning, making five trips a year with a buss full of students and boxes full of books.
“They’ve taken us on every trip that we’ve taken,” said McGillivray.
The Ice Hawks donation of transportation saves the school about $5,000. “Which we can then spend on buying more books,” McGillivray said.
Kain Settee, Grade 8, 12, went on his final trip to Indigo with the school on Tuesday.
“I really like reading,” Settee said.
“It’s pretty interesting, getting into a different world with books.”
Cierra-Joy Newman, Grade 8, 13 isn’t new to the world of books but she enjoys the trip and especially bringing books back to share with other children.
“It’s good to have books cause it really expands your knowledge,” Newman said.
Pelletier says she has seen changes in the children, as they become better and more avid readers.
“Their knowledge is expanded, their vocabulary has expanded. They can now understand current events, read the newspaper. Reading has become enjoyable and a pastime.”
“For educational purposes, If you like to read you practice reading … your classes are easier, your understanding is easier, school becomes easier. You’re confidence increases,” Pelletier said
The importance of reading to education and overall life is clear, said McGillivray.
“If you don’t like to read, you’re not going to succeed,” she said.