Church Street Junior Public SchoolToronto, Ontario 26 / 440 Books Given
Principal Mark Lasso
Diversity: Church St School has a population of incredibly diverse learners. Our school cachement area incluces high-income condo towers on Yonge and Bay St as well as refugee settlement housing and Toronto Community Housing buildings. More than 40% of our students have lived in Canada less than 5 years (178 of 426 in 2017) and more than 60% have a primary language other than English (269 of 426 in 2017). The most common source countries are Saudi Arabia, India, China, Iran, Egypt, and Nigeria. A significant portion of our students are only in Canada for 1-3 years while their parents complete contracts or training, then return to their home countries. Our library has a pressing need for more dual-language books for these diverse newcomers. Additionally, being in the heart of the The Church-Wellesley Village community in Toronto, we constantly strive to support the community we represent. The school is always looking to buy new and current resources for our LGBTQ+ community.
We have a crucial need for books that represents families living in different parts of the world, cultures, and religions, in order to be reflective of our student population and to promote empathy and inclusion from all students. We believe that representation matters; it is imperative for the voices of people from all backgrounds be heard, and that children are able to see themselves represented in order for them to imagine the possibilies for their lives. We believe diversity in books helps children from marginalized groups feel seen and important, and helps to foster respect for diversity in all children, dispels stereotypes, and builds community.
Increased population: Our school population is growing, as now more than ten new condo towers are being built in the immediate area, including literally across the street. We are currently at 110% capacity. We need an increased volume of books to support the increasing population, and to mitigate the losses of books (207 this year) from damage, being outdated, or being taken back to home countries.
Modern resources: Our non-fiction section of the library is particularly dated. Staff members have expressed the need to have more relevant books to support the teaching of science and social studies curriculum across all grades. We have been introducing new initiatives such as Coding Club and Mindfulness Club but do not have the books to support student interest in these areas.
Young readers: The majority of learners in Church St School are in the primary grades, with over 40% of students being in grades JK-1. We desperately need to replace books that support these young emerging readers. Many of our books for this age group have been very loved but now worn-down. We need to replace many of these classics and obtain new, relevant and engaging books to continue to build a love of reading at a young age when it matters most! Literacy programs aimed towards our young readers include Reading Recovery, Reading Buddies, Borrow-a-Book, and ESL volunteers.
Silver Birch: A significant portion of the library budget ($1500-$2000) goes toward running the Forest of Reading program each year. This is an extremely motivating, engaging and rewarding experience for our students. Expenses go toward purchasing qualifying books for the Blue Spruce and Silver Birch programs, purchasing an Ontario Library Association membership that allows access to the program, tickets to the Festival of Trees, and other student rewards such as Pizza parties and book prizes. Over 80 students participated in Silver Birch this year, and all students from grades JK-2 participate in Blue Spruce.
Accessibility of area literacy programs: Our school is located in the busy urban centre of downtown Toronto. 90% of our students live in apartments or condos. The area has heavy traffic and a significant population of under-housed individuals with mental health issues, and evidence of drug use in public spaces. Children must be accompanied by adults to travel to the public library and Children’s Book Bank that exist just outside of our school boundaries, which is difficult as these are seldom open outside of their parents’ working hours.
1. Geronimo Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami
2. Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
4. Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell
5. Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
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Emily of New Moon remains to this day one of my favourite books. The characters and world LM Montgomery created were so detailed, they came alive in my mind so much so that I still vivsit them there and wonder what they are doing now. This is a great book for any kid who is imaginative and who ...