January 12, 2017

Another January and a new year which means new books to read and a few reading resolutions.

Another January and a new year which means new books to read and a few reading resolutions.

I stock up each May at the annual CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale but as a new year begins the pile beside my bed, waiting to be read, no longer topples over because I’m actually running low on the gently used books I bought to read.

Right after the holidays, I am always eagerly at the book stores list in hand, getting lost in the shelves and perusing staff picks. I know I should wait for the next Big Book Sale because I can buy so many more, for way less money but I’m not patient enough and I am addicted to reading!

So, my resolutions: This year I am committing to not buy as many books – yes, I’ve actually written these words! I have just moved house and I have packed too many heavy boxes of books. My heart hurts after touching each book in my library to determine if it is one of the chosen ones which still gives me joy and will travel with me down the street to my new home.

So, to ease the pain of parting with some books and buying less, I am also committing to 2017 being the year of rereading – another infinitely rewarding yet increasingly lost art. There are so many wonderful new books released each year – “So many books and so little time” – but I’m committed to reduce my voracious appetite to read all the hot off the press beautiful children’s books and anything else that looks awesome  (yes, I do at times judge a book by its cover!). This year I will buy less, read more slowly and re-read again my favorite words, sentences, stories and self-help advice.

The books I chose to revisit this year will be read aloud in the silence of my home office and in the company of friends. I will escape yet again from reality and learn something new, as if for the very first time, by selecting my most cherished books, the ones that transformed me in some way, but this time around I’ll go deeper. I can hardly wait to scan the spines of the books I have just unpacked to determine which ones deserve more attention.

As Will Schwalbe states in his new book Books for Living: “Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions big and small.”

Imagine how much better the world, or we ourselves, could be this year if we slowed our hectic pace, bought less, shared more and focused on a few things instead of being so distracted by too many choices and the next shiny new thing.

I hope you will join me in 2017 and ask yourself and those around you “What are you RE-reading this year?

The open book on other multi-coloured books. On a wooden shelf. A wooden, white background.

December 28, 2016

Our five favourite articles of 2016

As we welcome a new year,  Calgary Reads is happy to share  5 thought-provoking articles that inspired our work.  We hope you enjoy them too.

  1. Where Books Are All But NonexistentAlia Wong, The Atlantic – July 14

In many high-poverty urban neighborhoods, it’s nearly impossible for a poor child to find something to read in the summer.

Why we loved it: Because we know that many children live in “book deserts:” neighbourhoods and communities where books and interesting, age-appropriate print materials for children are non-existent, and that is why book access is one of our key strategies.

  1. How Investing in Preschool Beasts the Stock Market, Hands DownEric Westervelt, NPR ED – December 12

Quality early education programs are expensive upfront. But as Prof. James Heckman, a Nobel Laureate, argues, the returns are enormous (13% vs. 7% historically in the stock market) and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family.

Why we loved it: Because we know through our partnership with the First 2000 Days Network that investing in the early years reaps strong dividends (no pun intended) for everyone in society.

  1. The Families That Can’t Afford SummerKJ Dell’Antonia, The New Yorker – June 4

In summer, the lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for lower income families. Most kids lose math skills over the summer, but low-income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back.

Why we loved it: Because we know through our work with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and from the Early Warning! Calgary report that summer learning is essential for ensuring that children from low-income families keep up with their peers when they return to school and the research tells us that books and summer reading helps to stop the “summer slide.”

  1. Page Turners: To Calgary’s Big Readers, Books Are a User’s Manual for Life – Rita Sirignano, Swerve Magazine – September 30

“I can’t separate my life from reading—it’s an integral part of who I am,” says one of five Calgarian bookworms profiled in this article. “I can imagine not having a lot of things, but not my books.”

Why we loved it: Because we love reading about and hearing from people who are as passionate about books as we are!

  1. The Need to Read – Will Schwalbe, The Wall Street Journal – November 25 (NOTE: May be behind a paywall)

We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?” It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives. We need to read and to be readers now more than ever.

Why we loved it: Because few people we know can inspire others to read like Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club, and our very first Big Book Club guest reader!

These were our favourite reads from 2016. Please share yours with us on Twitter and Instagram: @CalgaryReads or Facebook:


December 21, 2016

A holiday read aloud for you

At Calgary Reads, we know the importance and joy that a ‘Read Aloud’ can bring.  Please gather your family, and enjoy our gift to you:  The “Gift of Nothing’ by Patrick McDonnell, as read by Steacy Collyer, Executive Director of Calgary Reads. We wish you a wonderful holiday season.

This holiday season we invite you to give the gift of reading to the many Calgary children who have no books of their own. Read our latest blogs (links below) to learn more about our annual campaign and find the perfect gift at

Together we can help shift the book imbalance in Calgary. Thank you for your generous support.

How can we help families support reading at home?

How can the community help struggling readers like Avery?

Will Blake be reading by grade 3?

How will Nora learn to read without books?