"1000 X 5" Children's Book Recycling Projects (Beacon Community Services)

Three children's picture book recycling projects are underway across the Capital Regional District: Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood "1000 X5" (on the Saanich Peninsula), VICTORIA "1000 X 5" and WESTSHORE "1000 X 5." The purpose of these projects is to provide free books to babies, toddlers, and preschool children in our communities; and to encourage families to read at least 1000 books to children by the time they are five years-old and entering Kindergarten.

Volunteers sort and bag books for children.Our Impact Why We Exist

The "1000 X 5" Children's Book Recycling Projects exist because research indicates early literacy development has a significant positive impact on children's brain development;  language, intellectual, and social development; and emotional and physical well-being. Providing free books to children and families is one way to reduce barriers to accessing books and a cost-effective investment in children's lives.

  • The first years of life are a "window of opportunity" to foster bonding, brain development, and aptitude for learning.
  • Children who are read to from a young age have significantly increased receptive vocabulary and familiarity with language conventions. The qualitative difference in book language enhances, extends, and increases children's capacity to learn. 
  • Reading to children develops their general knowledge and understanding of story structure. Through books, children gain insights and develop empathy, learn information, and explore previously unimagined worlds.
  • Some children enter Kindergarten without their having had even one book read to them. Many more have very little experience with books. Building home libraries and reading to young children on a regular basis increases the likelihood of success in school. Compensatory interventions once children are in school are expensive, and not always effective.
  • Children who have been read to from a young age have a strong sense of belonging. Instead of being marginalized due to lack of opportunity, they participate in learning activities with confidence. They are part of the "Literacy Club." With knowledge of familiar authors and illustrators, they are able to offer their perspectives and eager to engage in conversations with their classmates and teachers.
  • Reading together with children builds relationships with them and is stress-reducing for both the child and the adult reader. Time for book-sharing is a time when we give children our full attention, thus confirming they are valued.
  • The consequences of illiteracy are profound--for individuals and the entire community. Adults with low literacy levels do poorly in the job market; they often require social assistance. They may lack the skills needed to support the healthy development of their children.

Books are delivered to our collection depots each week.Our Story What We Do

The PCEC "1000 X 5" Project was initiated in April 2008; the Victoria "1000 X 5" Project was established in January 2011; and the Westshore "1000 X 5" Project began in September 2012.

Each week, "1000 X 5" project leaders and volunteers screen the recycled books donated; count those "just-right" for reading to young children; clean, repair, sort and package them as gifts for young children and their families. On a rotating basis, bags of books are given to Strong Start Centres and staff in organizations and family serving agencies who give the books to the people they support. Year-round averages of the bags distributed indicate 1610 children/families receive books each month:

  • 360 children/families on the Saanich Peninsula (and Salt Spring Island)
  • 1000 children/families in Greater Victoria
  • 250 children/families on the Westshore

In mid-march 2014, we crossed a significant threshold--over 150,000 books-collected (76,200 on the Peninsula, 57,500 in Victoria, and 16,375 from the Westshore)! Here are a couple of ways to consider this accomplishment:

  1. Most of the new books, and many of the recycled books, have retail value of $20 to $30; very special editions are worth much more. Using a conservative estimate of $10/per book translates to at least 1.5 million dollars-worth of books have been redistributed throughout our communities.
  2. Most elementary school libraries have about 12 to 15 thousand books; middle schools typically house 25,000 books in their library collections. And... When the Emily Carr Branch of the GVPL moved from its former location to the new space at the Uptown Centre, the Times-Colonist (January 2014) reported that 30,000 volumes had to be relocated. Through our respective workspaces, we have moved many small libraries-worth of books!

Free books!Our Programs How We Do It

The work of each project is enabled by separate financial hosts and considerable in-kind support of local school districts.

  • PCEC "1000 X 5" is hosted by Beacon Community Services (BCS) and operates primarily within the boundaries of School District 63 (Saanich); books are also distributed via BCS programs on Salt Spring Island and to the Salt Spring Island Family Place.
  • Victoria "1000 X 5" is hosted by Saanich Neighbourhood Place and operates within the boundaries of School District 61 (Greater Victoria).
  • Westshore "1000 X 5" is hosted by Pacific Centre Family Services Association to serve children and families in the Westshore municipalities included in the boundaries of School District 62 (Sooke).

Gently-used picture books are collected from our communities; the vast majority are donated through schools where we have collection bins. These books are delivered by school districts' courier service to our work spaces at the Saanichton Individual Learning Centre, Rock Heights Middle School, and Crystal View Elementary. There, the books are screened for suitability, counted, cleaned and repaired, labeled and sorted into three categories--for:

  • babies and toddlers
  • three to four year-olds
  • children of Kindergarten age (5-6 years)

ORCA Book Publishers donated thousands of new books in 2013 and 2014. Funds from our Times-Colonist "Raise-a-Reader" grants enable us to purchase supplies and new books to supplement those recycled. Local Rotarians participating in the Rotary Literacy Roundtable have engaged in a "Start Early" fund-raising campaign in March 2012, 2013, and 2014 to purchase additional new books for babies and toddlers.

Recycled and new, hard- and soft-covered books, fiction and non-fiction materials are bagged, tied, tagged, and boxed for distribution throughout 13 municipalities to 15 Strong Start Centres, 34 family-serving organizations/agencies, and the Peninsula Co-op Food Centre.

Literacy development starts in the early years.What You Can Do

Grant funding or donations to the "1000 X 5" Projects will enable the project leaders to sustain current levels of book distribution--on average, 1610 children/families receive books each month; and to extend our outreach to children and families not yet served.

If you would like to make a donation to support early literacy development in your neighbourhood/community, please contact any of the project leaders directly:

We will be glad to provide information about the donation process and to help facilitate issuing of Income Tax Receipts from our repective financial hosts.


Daphne Macnaughton
PCEC "1000 X 5" Project Leader
Charitable Number: 129951174RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 66,240