At a time when children need help learning to read more than ever because of the pandemic, Calgary Reads is scaling up by spreading its early literacy mission across the city: Several community partners will carry on its critical early literacy work and raise the next generation of readers.
After forming 22 years ago with a one-to-one volunteer tutor program for struggling young readers, Calgary Reads has bravely incubated a variety of initiatives to enhance the reading lives of children and families, including wee read, Little Red Reading House, community reading places, a Book Bank, LENA Start, a program that supports parent-infant interaction to improve literacy outcomes, and more.
“These are all the ‘dandelion seeds’ we’ve planted to help nurture joyful, confident readers and inspire a love of reading in the home,” says Steacy Pinney, Calgary Reads founder and CEO. “We’ve been this ‘little organization that could’ fueled by a community of passionate supporters, but there are still so many children who need help, and we believe every child has a right to read.”
It was with this desire to better serve children, especially children furthest from opportunity, that Calgary Reads recognized an opportunity to grow its reach and the reading revolution. This June, Calgary Reads will release its initiatives and resources to several ‘dandelion seed partners,’ organizations that will carry these ‘seeds’ far and wide – reaching many more children and giving them a bright start in school and in life.
“We are excited and hopeful about the future we are creating – one in which strong organizations with greater capacity, reach and resources can give these impactful programs the attention they deserve and get more children the help they need,” says Monica Mochoruk, Calgary Reads board chair.
Calgary Reads is a vibrant and beloved brand well-known for its eclectic windowfront in the Kahanoff Centre, the whimsical Little Red Reading House in Inglewood and the Big Book Sale, among many other events that have helped Calgarians experience the joy of reading.
“We really are proud of all we’ve accomplished in the last 22 years,” says Steacy. “We’ve brought to Calgary an incredible and innovative array of evidence-based early literacy resources, some of the most unique in Canada. It is bittersweet that Calgary Reads as we know it will no longer be, but our legacy and impact will live on for generations. This, truly, is the best outcome for our community.”
Steacy looks forward to new ways of advocating for early literacy, and all other team members will have a role with the partners. While Calgary Reads’ charitable status is expected to formally dissolve by the fall, the story only continues. Calgarians can continue accessing early literacy offerings through each of the seven dandelion partners in the coming months, and for many years to come.
“Helping children learn to read by Grade 3 is an enormous, critical undertaking – one that needs to be shouldered by all of us,” says Steacy. “We encourage everyone to keep the reading revolution alive by supporting our partners with books, donations and time.”
With the help of a passionate community and many volunteers, Calgary Reads has equipped communities with the books, knowledge and inspiration they need to support every child reading by Grade 3. Since 2000, we’ve led a variety of initiatives to enhance the reading lives of children and families, including our Book Bank, Little Red Reading House, wee read, LENA Start, a program that supports parent-infant interaction to improve literacy outcomes, and many more. Learn more about our movement at Calgaryreads.com and LittleRedReading.House.
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