MONTREAL – Many were shocked when Yves Bolduc, Quebec’s Minister of Education, told Le Devoir that libraries have enough books.
“I would prefer [that libraries] buy fewer books. Our libraries are already well-equipped,” he said, when asked about budget cuts for the coming school year.
“Go in the schools. There are books, books that were bought last year, two years ago, 20 years ago.”
Now, the education minister is apologizing for his “clumsy” remarks about books in schools.
Bolduc says he knows he embarrassed the government and is asking the school boards to reinstate the budgets.
“On all levels, reading is an absolutely wonderful experience for the kids, and a tool they need for the rest of their lives,” said Nick Katalifo, the principal of Roslyn Elementary School.
Katalifo was surprised when he heard Bolduc’s remarks.
“As a principal but also as a parent, I was a little bit shocked,” he said.
“I’ve always thoughts books should be an integral part of what books should be offering so the notion of cutting back is absurd.”
“Reading is important for everybody, but it’s especially for kids because thats when you grab them as readers,” said Andrea Borod, an avid book lover and blogger.
Borod believes there are different types of reader personalities.
Her blog, The Book Dumpling matches readers to books.
She points out it’s critical that schools continue to buy new books.
“You have to stay up to date with what’s going on in film, in TV, vampire, zombies, is there anything going on in politics that might interest these kids,” she said. “The minute you cut new books off, you cut this whole new world of literature.”
The English Montreal School Board agrees.
“We’ve noticed there’s some disparity between male and female readers, so we’ve tried to do research in terms of books and literature that is attractive to male readers,” said Robert Stocker, EMSB Director General.
“So new acquisition is very, very important.”
Stocker says he understand that tough choices need to be made but insists that children can never have enough books.
“We would see it as a last resort to cut our funding from books,” he said.
“Literacy is a key component for our students success.”Q
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