Beautiful Reading Experiences

“Children are reading more but enjoying reading less,” that’s the general consensus. What about you? Do you find yourself zipping through books on your Smartphone, interrupted by various chirps and gurgles to read posts and tweets. When’s the last time you visited a really beautiful library with your young readers and spent a few hours reading there? Many parents head for Chapters and over a frothy expensive drink allow their kids to pour, literally, over graphic novels or magazines. A positive experience with literature, I’m for it.

But last week Jennifer Mook-Sang (Speechless), Karen Bass (Two-Times a Traitor) and I headed in to Toronto early for a meeting so that we could see a picture book display at Toronto Reference Library on Yonge St. ┬áThe display area was closed due to a maintenance issue but the library was so arresting we couldn’t leave right away. Instead we headed up the test-tube glass elevator overlooking all five floors of books.

As if that experience wasn’t gobsmacking enough, we stumbled on a Sherlock Holmes room.See below. I bemoaned the lack of beautiful books for children especially. Oh our picture books are great but our novels from chapter book on, don’t have the illustrations we used to enjoy as kids.I love the look of the red and gold book or in this case green and gold book. Don’t you want to sit in this room and read The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes.

 

Oh look book shelves with genuine books instead of the odd vase.

Check out the beautiful Sherlock Holmes chessboard, there are British Bobbies as pawns and Victorian people playing pieces.

 

Family literacy day is Saturday January 27th. Why don’t you and your family create the most beautiful reading experience for yourselves possible?

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Read local-Writers in your Neighbourhood

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Celebrating Burlington Authors display at Alton Library.

Five years ago I was editing an article on Hawaii for Today’s Parent Toronto while at a resort in the Dominican. Irritating. Both to be working during a holiday but also to have the locations so criss-crossed in my psyche. In discussion with another writer Gisela Sherman, she mentioned how it would be nice when you’re on holiday to be reading about the place you’re visiting. Yeah, why not.

Next holiday happened to be in Arizona and I visited the Phoenix Public Library website to “Ask a Librarian” what local authors I could read. I ended up with some Tony Hillerman detective novels set nearby. I loved that matching. Next in Sanibel, I read some of Randy Wayne’s Dog Ford series. Those were easy to pick up since Randy owns his own restaurant which sells all his paperbacks.

But then what about when I returned home? Or when someone visited Burlington?
Not every writer can own a restaurant.

Looks like Heather Reisman had the same idea as I did.

Enter the Local Author Display idea. First incarnation I was turned down by Burlington Tourist Bureau–they didn’t have the room to display anything. If they did it for writers, they’d have to do it for visual artists.

“Wow. I’d like that too!” I said.

Canada 150 seems to have changed everyone’s minds about local author displays.
The City of Burlington’s manger of Arts and Culture Angela Paparizo instantly liked and supported my idea. Ian Elliott of A Different Drummer Books cheerily researched and purchased all the titles and authors I supplied from Writers’ Union and CANSCAIP lists and Burlington librarians gave me names of even more literary artists. I thought I knew everyone who wrote in my home town.

Wouldn’t these make lovely posters for school and public libraries? Maybe next project.

With the success of this project, I wanted more. I wanted every school in Halton to be aware of the four children’s authors writing in their neighbourhood because I know first hand how excited kids can be when they read a book set in their own community. Or know that the writer of their novel or picture book lives near by. There’s an immediate connection to the work. Writing their own stories becomes more accessible. We drink the same water after all. They too could grow up to be a famous Canadian writer. Enter the postcard project.

Four writers kicked in funds and Jennifer Filipowicz designed these beautiful postcards.

We discussed the idea with a Burlington graphic designer Jennifer Filipowicz and all the writers kicked in money for design and postage. Jennifer inputted school addresses into a mail merge and her husband Adam Filipowicz printed the 170+ plus cards.

And today the postcards went into the mail. I love them.
Ideally the next step would be to speak at professional development days for local schools. Visit the schools to get the students writing and drawing. Another project to work on.

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