I enjoyed a whistle stop visit to Jessie Lee Elementary School in Surrey today to deliver a load of books donated by Vancouver-area writer Julie Burtinshaw. These were titles on the longlist of the Red Cedar Awards, of which she is a judge, and she was looking for a good home for them after her judging duties were over.
I didn't have time to stop and visit with librarian Dawne Murray. When I arrived she was in mid-storytime session, telling Linda Bailey's Stanley's Party to a group of rapt primary grade children.
It was nice to know that Julie's generosity will help stock the shelves of this school library, which like so many is underfunded and under supported in both staffing (Dawne splits her time between two Surrey schools) and materials, and be the core of Red Cedar activities in this vulnerable school.
Last summer I spent a lovely afternoon with the summer day camp program at Jessie Lee, during which we spent much of the afternoon playing jacks, an activity that I used as a springboard for discussion about my Depression-era midgrade novel Silver Rain.
Literacy is important in this school. And it's great that authors like Julie Burtinshaw, who might never meet these particular students, can support the teachers' and librarians' efforts to put good books into students' hands.