Avid reader leaves gift to libraries

Before Islander Becky Braicks died of cancer in August, the mother who frequently volunteered at her two children’s schools asked that friends and family donate to the Vashon School District in her name.

As $8,000 poured into Becky Braick’s memorial fund, her family knew exactly how it should be used. They chose to give the money to the school district’s three libraries.

“She was always a big reader,” said Rick Braicks of his late wife, describing the hundreds of books Becky kept at their home and her frequent visits to book stores for more.

Baicks said Becky would be thrilled to know that she has left a legacy in the form of new books for Island children.

“She was always a big reader and encouraged the kids to read,” he said. “She would be very happy and think it’s very appropriate.”

Chautaqua Elementary and McMurray Middle School’s libraries have received $2,500 each from the fund, and the Vashon High School library got about $3,000.

Peggy Kallsen, the librarian at VHS, said Braick’s gift doubles the school’s funds for purchasing books this year. The other $3,000 for books is a combination of school district money and an annual grant from Partners in Education.

Kallsen said she is thrilled that the money will allow her to make more new titles available to students throughout the year, including ones they personally request.

“It gives us more money than we’ve had at the high school to buy books for several years,” she said.

Though Kallsen didn’t know Becky Braicks well, she said was someone who “got it” when it came to the importance of children reading.

Kallsen said that contrary to what some believe, many high schoolers read for pleasure and students request that the library acquire specific titles almost daily.

However, as the library’s budget has decreased over time, Kallsen said, “There aren’t as many opportunities for kids to get their hands on good books,” making Becky Braick’s gift especially meaningful.

Kallsen plans to mark the approximately 200 books she will purchase with the donation and display information about Becky in the library.

“She has kept reading alive for people that still want to read and ask for books every week,” she said.

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