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When Steacy Collyer, Executive Director of Calgary Reads, was moving out of her home in Inglewood, she decided to turn it into the “Biggest Little Free Library” for Calgary families and schools.
The Children’s Reading Place opened on July 1, 2017, and houses thousands of brand-new (and very gently used) books for children and families to sift through. Each little visitor gets to pick one book to take home and keep forever.
“I always wanted to open a bookstore, so this is my attempt to open a free one,” says Steacy, who was an elementary school teacher for several years before starting Calgary Reads, a non-profit committed to fostering young readers – especially in low-income communities and schools.
“Because we’re so school-based, we needed an easy access point for families. This house gives us our first opportunity to really interact with and hopefully influence reading behaviours at home.” The Children’s Reading Place is easily accessible by bus, car, or bike, and also has a small section for adult books. As Steacy explains one of the best ways to encourage children to read is if they see their parents reading too.
Much of the house, from the living room and kitchen to the three bedrooms upstairs and two bathrooms, has been redecorated with motifs from several beloved classics – including a Shel Silverstein front foyer, a Where the Wild Things Are staircase, and a Moby Dick bathroom complete with a paper mache whale tail in the bathtub. Cozy reading nooks can be found in every room.
“We really believe in the power of environment and spaces that engage kids in reading,” Steacy explains. “The Children’s Reading Place is a model, though we wouldn’t expect every house to look like this, we hope it will inspire parents to go home and turn that little nook and cranny into a special place.”
The house could not have been possible without the many generous donations from Calgary businesses, including builders from Ryan Murphy Construction (who worked on the Makerspace upstairs), and books from local bookstores and publishing companies.
“This house is meant to be filled with books and people who love them. It’s been pretty neat to see its next chapter.”
- Book a visit at the Children’s Reading Place with your children Thursdays-Saturdays.
- Donate new or gently-used books here.
- Read this article for Steacy’s tips on raising a reader.
- Connect with Calgary Reads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Vote for Calgary Reads as your favourite non-profit in REAP’s 2017 Be Local Awards!