Carol Walters, a Comox Valley Schools literacy support teacher, is doing some creative work with literacy helping children not nly on Vancuver Island, but as far away as Kenya. Photo courtesy Vancouver Island Literacy Network

Comox Valley teacher’s initiative helps with literacy in Kenya

Carol Walters, a Comox Valley Schools literacy support teacher, is doing some creative work with literacy helping children both near and far.

Walters belongs to a network of teachers on Vancouver Island who recently took on a literacy project to create books for young learners.

The books are designed to enhance place-based education whereby students are immersed in local sites, animals, and experiences using language and images that engage young readers.

Walters’s network consists of 10 teachers who meet five times a year for various projects. One of their recent undertakings has brought the joy of reading into the hands of Vancouver Island students and ended up being shared across the world.

Approximately 70 beautiful books have been created using donated images along with those from Creative Common sites. These books were produced in the school district’s in-house publication services, the Print Shop, by graphic artists. While the focus of their project is Vancouver Island, these books were shared thousands of miles away in Kenya.

The books were delivered in person by Walters’s network of fellow VI educators during their annual trip to Africa this past summer. But the images in these books weren’t of Vancouver Island. Instead, images local to the African children were inserted into this book format using photos from the previous year’s trip.

Walters says that the Vancouver Island Literacy Network set out to create affordable books for emergent readers in school districts across the Island.

“Little did we know the same format would be used to make books that would travel across the world and end up in the hands of children who normally never see books of this quality,” said Walters. “We heard the African children literally stroked the pages and touched them to their faces!”

Typically, books of this quality cost approximately $10 each, but the Comox Valley Schools print shop is able to produce them for a third of that price. Because emergent books need to be replaced regularly, this work offers affordable classroom options with local content not normally seen in this type of book.

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