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Literacy group has distributed more than 300,000 books to children

The group 1000X5 — named for its goal of having 1,000 books read to a child by age five — reached the total with the help of Times Colonist Book Sale literacy grants
1000X5 Victoria volunteer Anne Knoke at Rockheights Middle School with refurbished and wrapped books. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A children’s literacy group recently celebrated its 12th anniversary and marked a milestone — 1000x5 has distributed more than 300,000 books to babies and preschoolers.

The group, named for its goal of having 1,000 books read to a child by age five, reached the total with the help of 27 social agencies, and support from Times Colonist literacy grants generated by the newspaper’s annual book drive and sale.

The grant money and other funds allow 1000x5 to buy new books at greatly discounted prices from locally based Orca Book Publishers.

It also collects donations of gently used books from the community — many of them from families at 27 Greater Victoria School District elementary schools and eight independent schools.

A celebration of the milestone was held at Rockheights Middle School, where 10 retired ­teachers gather regularly to clean, label and sort the donated books.

The volunteers assemble gift bags of three books each to be handed out at StrongStart early-learning centres — largely located within schools — and by the agencies involved.

More than 1,600 books are distributed monthly to children around the region, and each child can receive up to 30 books a year.

“We know that early-childhood literacy is crucial to brain development and further learning,” the group said in a statement. “This wonderful community has seen a need and stepped up to help fill it three books at a time.”

Handling books and listening to them being read by an adult who is important to them also helps with children’s language and imagination, the group said.

Activities started in 2008 on the Saanich Peninsula and now take place in 13 municipalities.

To make a book or financial donation, go to the group’s website at

The 2023 Times Colonist Book Sale takes place May 6-7 at the Victoria Curling Club at 1952 Quadra St. Doors will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, and 9-5 on Sunday, May 7. Books are priced at $2 or $3 apiece.

Money raised through the book sale is matched, in part, by provincial government funds via Decoda Literacy Solutions. The money raised (well over $6 million since the first TC book sale in 1998) goes to literacy on Vancouver Island.

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