March 16, 2016

Michael and Susan Hare of Owl’s Nest Books share their Shelfie

Of course . . . owners of an independent book store are book lovers! And, Michael and Susan have been champions of Calgary Reads programs and events for many years.  They also host three great book clubs for children. We asked them to share their favourite reads with you.

Susan’s favourites:

The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

“One of the best fantasy series I have ever read. The characters inspire, the writing is mesmerizing, and the settings are fantastic. Kay’s books allow others to see the possibilities of life, no matter where it may end up. The sacrifices that the characters make create strong beautiful scenes that are heartbreaking in all the right ways.”

Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

“Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books for adults can be even more compelling than the Anne of Green Gables books that are so beloved. Blue Castle is my favourite book by Montgomery – Valancy has suffered from the tyranny of the weak, and doesn’t see any other possibilities. A health issue prompts her to dream and to become the person she always should have been.  Valancy inspired me when I read Blue Castle in my 20s, and still resonates with me today.”

Flying Time by Suzanne North

“Saskatchewan writer Suzanne North grew up in Calgary, and her love of our city shines throughout this book. The story is mostly set in Calgary in 1941, just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbour. A young woman goes to work for a Japanese expatriate, and gets involved in helping him with his life in Calgary and Japan. Suzanne’s sense of humour abounds, but the story of prejudice and sacrifice resonates with the reader.”

“As you see, the sense of possibilities and sacrifice are common themes in these books. As a child and young adult, reading was a way of experiencing what was and is possible in life – thus opening up my life to what I could achieve. That sense of possibility still keeps me reading today.” Susan Hare, Owner, Owl’s Nest Books

Michael favourites:

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

“When you read a good book it makes you curious. What was life like for an orphaned boy in mid nineteenth century London England? Dickens’ most autobiographical novel launches the reader into a lavishly constructed world of grief, misfortune and misery.

As a young teenager I embraced learning about surviving in a world more hazardous than my own.”

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Iriving

“This is a BIG book fashioned after the great writers who toiled in the eighteenth century. Looking back from 1987 we dive into the world of two boys growing up in a small New Hampshire town in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Irving, our modern day master story-teller is not shy about sharing ideas on a diversity of themes including social justice, fate, war, religion, sex, politics, death, Christianity, non-conformity and more.”

Fall on Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald

“Follow the Piper family through four generations of family strive in Cape Breton at the turn of the 20th Century.

My best friend has read this book three times and I’ve talked to others too who think it takes that many readings to grasp and absorb the mine-field of racial tension, isolation, domestic abuse, forbidden love, incest and death.”

“Having to choose three of the most important/influential books in my life resulted in a realization of a very clear and obvious pattern. The overarching theme is surviving in the face of severe family dysfunction. It may not be exaggerating to say that reading Dickens as a young teenager helped to save my life. At the very least, each and every book read over a lifespan of 35 years had some bearing on who I was to become, and played a very crucial role in how I view the world at large.” Michael Hare, Owner, Owl’s Nest Books

Reading Rally

March 9, 2016

Reading Rally in Edmonton scores touchdown!

If you are enthusiastic about an idea – and its potential for impact – then, it’s infectious.

As soon as Crawford Plains School became part of the Alberta Reads Network, Assistant Principal Lisa Nachtigal, was keen to implement many of Calgary Reads-developed literacy-building programs and reading initiatives.

Lisa watched the Calgary Reads’ video of a Reading Rally event in action and was hooked. She liked the idea of a giant celebration of reading in the gym where community members and other volunteers and supporters would come and share the love of reading with students. She embraced the concept of the Readers’ Theatre where teachers would perform for the students—and the idea to send every child home with a new book!

Lisa set her plan in motion and started making calls and extending invitations. She invited the Mayor and other dignitaries. Heather Klimchuck, former MLA and a Calgary Reads’ champion was delighted to attend. Lisa talked to a local seniors centre (yes, they’d help). Connected with the Edmonton Public Library (who agreed to donate books and take part) and even reached out to the Edmonton Eskimos football team who came to read—and (to the delight of the students) brought the Grey Cup along with them! Fifteen Edmonton Police Service personnel and 12 members of the Edmonton Fire Department also agreed to be guest readers. Lisa attracted local businesses to help sponsor the event and share employee volunteers for the afternoon. Event partners gave ‘swag’ too, as part of the book and gift bags for children to take home.

Reading Rally2

The Reading Rally went off beautifully! Guest readers sat on mats in the gym and read aloud to their assigned children. Seniors (some of whom preferred chairs) loved spending time with their young friends. The teachers’ performance wowed their students. And a local Zumba instructor kept the energy flowing by leading lively exercises during the mid-event break.

“The children so loved the one-on-one or one-on-two experiences and that these new friends would read aloud and talk with them about books and stories,” said Lisa. “When it came time for them to go home on the bus they were still full of excitement saying: ‘I got to read with a fireman!’”

Lisa says she’ll hold another Reading Rally in the future and soon is hosting a Literacy-in-a-Box family literacy night. And, she’s busy training the seniors to be wee read volunteers who will come into the school regularly to share stories and games with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students!

“At the end of the Reading Rally, my heart was bursting within happiness. I’m sure everyone who got to experience the fun would say the same! I was pretty much at a loss for words and I’m glad we have photos to keep and share.”


Reading Place

March 1, 2016

Any place can be a Reading Place

Photo credit: janisnicolay.com  Room design: thecrossdesign.com  

Do you look for ways to encourage your child’s enjoyment of reading? Creating a ‘reading place’ in your home can help!

A reading place might be in your child’s bedroom, a cozy corner in the family room, a little nook under the stairs . . . or? Just remember the 3B’s and you’ll create a wonderfully welcoming spot:

Make lots of books available. All kinds; picture books, stories, and nonfiction books about things your child is interested in (dogs, planes, machines, cake making perhaps).
Encourage your child to write their name inside their books. Ownership is directly connected to higher reading scores.CaymJNfUYAEu5l3Bookshelves
Have bookshelves or baskets, boxes or bags of books all over your home. Easy access means reading can happen anywhere, at anytime. In your special reading place books all around help create a colourful and welcoming environment.

Book lights
If you set your reading place up in a family room or bedroom, you can use a nearby lamp. Or, small, inexpensive lights (clip-on or flashlights) in cozy nooks make reading more of an adventure. Lights aid visibility and define a space that focuses a child on their reading.

Have fun creating your own special ReadingPlace . . . and, we at Calgary Reads love to receive your photos and stories. Be in touch!