Donation to County Kids Read honours late Costmary Book Club member

MEMORIAL DONATION- (From left) Anne Preston of County Kids Read accepts a donation from the Costmary Book Club in the memory of Pauline Jenkins from club member Carolynn Whiteley. Jill Hill a member of the club and a County Kids Read volunteer is also pictured. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)



A late, longstanding member of a Prince Edward County book club is being remembered thanks to a donation to a local children’s literacy program.

County Kids Read accepted a donation from the members of the Costmary Book Club Thursday in honour of the late Pauline Jenkins. The club was established over two decades ago and was named after the long, broad leaves of the Costmary herb which was often utilized as book marks in older times.

Club members described Jenkins as a loyal and valued member of the club who loved a good read and never failed to express her opinions clearly and openly at meetings.

“She was a good critic when it came to choosing our yearly selections and this was one of the reasons our club brought us together as friends and compatriots,” said Jill Hill, a member of the Costmary Club and a volunteer with County Kids Read. 

The timing of the memoriam was a bit of good news for County Kids Read.

Executive Director Anne Preston said a collateral reality of COVID-19 is interruptions in regular learning periods and local children are ending up further behind the curve when it comes to literacy skills.

“In the pandemic, we  found we are giving more books to the food banks and children are falling further and further behind because of the learning gaps,” Preston said.

A national study that was expanded upon recently in the Globe & Mail indicated the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a higher percentage of Canada’s disadvantaged children to become even further at risk when it comes to literacy skills.

“For us, that’s where the focus of County Kids Read is-We want to get more and more books and learning materials into the hands vulnerable children so this donation will help us answer those higher numbers we’ve seen during the pandemic,” Preston explained.

Hill added requests for children’s reading material that focusses on depression and anxiety is becoming regularly sought after material by local youth workers.

“There is a need for books dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety in children and thankfully we have materials on that very topic,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, educators believe there will be another type of pandemic-one that will affect the mental health of the children who experienced these times.

And that will be on top of a higher percentage of flagging literacy skills and all the interconnected health and social concerns that come with that difficult statistic.

“We will need more books and the fall out of this pandemic will be something we will be working at for the coming years,” Preston added.