Man and two children sitting in living room reading book together and smiling

December 21, 2016

How can we help families support reading at home?

The Martins are a family with two young children. Like many families in our city, they are busy and have many pressures in their life.   They have few books in their home and have been unable to support their children’s reading development.   In homes like the Martins, how can young children learn to read with confidence and joy?

On average, children in Alberta spend 950 hours a year in school and 7800 out of school.

Parents and the home environment play a critical role in nurturing a childhood literacy child’s life-long love of reading. Since 2000, Alberta’s reading scores have been declining, along with children’s interest in reading for pleasure.  Families are essential in creating positive associations with reading. Reading aloud is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading. Calgary Reads is working to increase parent capacity so that more children grow up in homes with where reading and books are a priority:

–    Welcome Baby – We are working with health care professionals to distribute books and tips on how to read with your child during ‘well baby checkups’.

–    Family literacy nights – We bring families together, including new Canadians and those for whom English is not their first language. These fun events inspire families and communities to make reading a part of their lives and provide inspiration, tips, and resources to build literacy skills.

–    Online resources – We provide free resources for families to share the importance of reading and how to read aloud to children.  Reading aloud builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent, expressive reading, and helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about.

There is more we can do.  Your gift of reading this holiday season will help us support families like the Martins build a literacy rich home and help their children develop stronger reading skills.

little girl lying on a bookshelf and reading a book

December 14, 2016

How can community help struggling readers like Avery?

Avery is a 7-year-old child in Calgary. Like many children from low-income households, she has no books of her own.  Not having access to quality print materials means Avery does not read outside of school or share reading with her family. How can the community help Avery develop early literacy skills and her sense of herself as a reader?

Reading builds a community and community builds readers

Children who grow up in a house with books have an advantage in school. Students who read the most read the best, achieve more and stay in school the longest.  The only behaviour measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 school children found that access to printed materials – and not poverty- is the main indicator of reading ability.

Calgary Reads works with many community partners to increase book access across Calgary. In the last year, the impact has been:

–       The Calgary Reads Book Bank, our partnership with the Calgary Food Bank, distributed over 12,000 books to families in Calgary.

–       Our Read With Me program, a baby book distribution program through non-profit partners, including University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing, Calgary Urban Project Society, and Lousie Dean school provided 2,000 books.

–       Our relationship to the Little Free Library network has filled numerous libraries across the city with over a 1,000 children’s books.

–       Our Good Book Box program delivers a new book a month to students in low-income schools. We have delivered more than 1,200  books to date.

We know that there is more that we can do. Please give the gift of reading this holiday season and help us bring books into the homes of children like Avery.


Female teacher giving a lesson to nursery students. They are sitting on the floor and some have their hands up to ask a question.

December 7, 2016

Will Blake be reading by grade 3?

Blake is a 5-year-old kindergarten student. Like 29% of Alberta children from low-income families, he began kindergarten unprepared. He was behind his peers in language, literacy and learning skills. Blake has grown up in a home with few books and parents that were unable to spend time singing, talking and playing with him.  By the age of 4, this meant he had heard 32 million fewer words than his peers. That is 8 million fewer words per year and 1,500 fewer words per hour. All of this has had a big impact on Blake`s ability to learn to read. Now that Blake has begun school will he be able to catch up to his peers?

 Reading well is critically linked to success in life

Literacy is a key skill for lifetime success.  Without intervention, 90% of children who have trouble reading in grade one will still struggle by grade four. Children who are not able to read at grade level by the end of grade three are associated with high school dropout and do not develop the necessary literacy skills to fully participate in society and in the workforce.

Young learners need support

Calgary Reads provides school-based programs and support for struggling young readers like Blake to develop the necessary literacy skills to read with confidence and joy by grade 3. Through our bursary program, you can help a school benefit from Calgary Reads’ literacy-building programs, resources, and events.

Learn more about our impact and help a child like Blake this holiday season