Oh, those summer knights

By Gordon Lambie

High school students in the Richmond area in search of a good read are in luck this summer.
Richmond Regional High School has teamed up with the Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi Richmond , Richmond et ses Jeunes, and Project PREE to offer free new and used English books to any high school student over the summer. The books are being distributed several Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi locations in the region, with the first distribution having taken place in Richmond this past Thursday afternoon.
“We’re just starting off,” said Crystle Reid, who teaches English and Drama at Richmond Regional High School, explaining that even though only about six students made the trip out to pick up books last week, she’s optimistic that the project will pick up steam.
Reid explained that the idea for the project originally came together before the pandemic as a way for students to continue to read for fun after their access to the school library, and best source of young adult fiction, was cut off for the summer. When COVID-19 closed all of the libraries early, however, things had to get revised.
Originally planned as a lending program, the project is now simply distributing new and used books to students with the option, but not requirement, to bring them back when finished.
“We don’t want kids to feel pressured to return the books,” said Siu-Min Jim, coordinator of the Community Learning Centre at the high school, explaining that the new books were purchased with the support of partner organizations and grant money, while donations are being welcomed from the community. “If a student really enjoys a book, we want them to be able to just add that to their personal collection,” she added, noting that people often develop strong attachments to books they enjoy.
Reid said that she feels the changes this spring have increased the need for this kind of a program, even if the situation has made the logistics a bit more complicated.
An effort has been made on the parts of the organizers to make the pick-up events accessible, and a drop-off service has been offered under certain circumstances, but Reid said that the group has been having a hard time getting the word out to the students who might benefit most.
“One of the challenges is that the kids can’t just look through the books,” she added, pointing out that hygiene measures mean that they can’t just let everyone who stops by browse through the boxes. To help offset that loss, the titles available can be browsed online at https://msreid.libib.com/
The next pick up and drop off point will be held this coming Thursday, July 23, at 551 1st avenue in Asbestos. After that there will be two more opportunities, one on August 6, at 139 Principale North in Richmond, and the other on August 10, at 204-D Saint-Louis in Warwick. Each event takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Social distancing and strict hygiene practices will be in place. Delivery to RRHS students may also be possible in certain cases.
Those seeking more information about the program can reach out by email to rrhsknightsread@gmail.com or richmondclc@etsb.qc.ca

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