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Calgary Reads tackles literacy rates through Big Book Sale

Big Book Sale makes big impact

April 24, 2019 by Centaine Hlushak on Calgary Reads

According to statistics from First Books Canada, nearly 25% of Canadian households don’t own a single book. Calgary Reads aims to change that number through its annual Big Book Sale.

“Through our sale just last year, we sold over 96,000 books to 10,000 people of all ages in Calgary and area,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Shannon King. “We are always working to ensure people are still reading and loving books.”

Besides an outlet for extremely-discounted used books, the Big Book Sale is also Calgary Reads’ biggest fundraiser. All proceeds go towards furthering Calgary Reads’ mission to improve book access, literacy, and instill a love of reading for kids and their families. Unsold books from the Big Book Sale are provided free to local schools, community partners, and Little Free Libraries.

Programs include Wee Read – training volunteers to “share great read-aloud books and games with Kindergarten and Grade 1 students to build their language and literacy,” and the Children’s Reading Place – a heritage home in Inglewood turned into a massive haven for kids to find books to keep forever, free of charge.

“Our mission is to make sure all children in Calgary read with confidence and joy,” Shannon says. “And children learn to read with confidence and joy when they have access to quality resources, are immersed in a culture of reading, and are surrounded by engaged adults who have the will, skill and thrill to support their learning.”

Shannon adds there is a strong correlation between low literacy skills and lower lifetime earnings, less voter turnout, volunteering, self-esteem, and empathy. This is reflected by data from the Literacy Foundation. “If you couldn’t read, how could you navigate a city or become an active participant in your community? It makes things very difficult,” she says.

As excitement for the sale ramps up, Shannon is eager to see the joy in children’s eyes as they get to pick out their own books and take them home. “It’s moments like that that are so special,” she says.


  1. Donation drives are running around the city from now until May 5th. Click here for times and locations for each day!
  2. Want to volunteer at the Big Book Sale? Click here to find out how!
  3. Shop the Big Book Sale May 10-12 at the Calgary Curling Club.
  4. Click here to learn more about Calgary Reads.
  5. Check out Calgary Reads’ Sustainability Profile on the REAP directory.