Almost four years ago I was introduced to Calgary Reads, an early literacy initiative in my hometown, Calgary. They run a variety of programs, including tutoring for early readers, and they strive to build confidence and joy in young readers. If you’ve ever passed their offices near the Kahanoff Centre in Calgary, you’d know it. They have the most public and colourful reading space you can imagine!
What does this all have to do with Girl Tries Life? Well, Calgary Reads are kicking off Reading Town today, May 2nd and it lasts a mere week. The neighbourhoods of Inglewood and Ramsay are the hub of the weeks’ activities and there really is something for everyone. It’s a celebration of all things reading including a book art workshop (today!), a story picnic, FREE comic books, a parent cafe where Calgary parents can learn and share their experiences of inspiring young readers. Calgary Reads have partnered with local businesses like Gravity Cafe and Bite Groceteria to make reading a real community event. What activity from this event cornucopia did my Mum and I choose to participate in?
We chose to read our way through Inglewood and Ramsay. It’s part self-guided walking tour, part scavenger hunt. For years (and I do mean years), my Mum and I have talked about exploring both Inglewood and Ramsay. I mean, we’ve only lived in Calgary for 28 years. For shame… I know. But today we rectified the situation.
Starting at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre, we checked out the first page in our story. It centers around a young guy who enjoys playing World of Warcraft, drives everywhere and is really a bit of an introvert. Fate makes it financially impossible for him to use his car, so its back to the power of his feet. While he explores his neighbourhood (conveniently he lives in Inglewood and Ramsay!), he meets a host of characters and is given his own mysterious scavenger hunt filled with yellow post-its.
We were walked along with him on his journey.
Inglewood and Ramsay are some of the most unique neighbourhoods I’ve found in Calgary. It truly has that community feel with boutique stores, adorable eateries and houses with real characters. We joined our narrator in finding the lime green doors, birdhouses, garden art and not one, but THREE Little Free Libraries along our walk.
It’s hard to believe that Inglewood and Ramsay are a stone’s throw from our bustling downtown. You’d think you were in a small town where everybody knows your name. Unlike my daily commute to work or around the core of Calgary, nearly every local we passed smiled and said hello. We were welcome in their community.
Along the way we met a fat, ginger cat, guarding his page of the story with adoration, rubbing his furry face against the sign. Turns out this same cat was mentioned at our next stop!
As we wound down, the walk ended (like a genius!) at the Gravity Cafe. Not that we were weary, as the walk was easy and took maybe 45-55 mins, but we indulged in espresso, curried sweet potato soup and a cheese scone. Om nom nom.
With our reading walk coming to a close, we were inspired both to return to Inglewood and Ramsay to explore it on our own terms, but also to remind ourselves that reading and community go hand in hand. Turn off the computer, leave your car keys at home. Why not take a walk instead, pack a good book, and chat to your neighbour.
Calgary Reads’ Reading Town is only on for a short time, May 2-9. See if there are any events that tickle your fancy.
If you can’t make Reading Town, make sure you drop in at the CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale, May 22-24 at the Calgary Curling Club. I can say from experience it is worth your heaving pile of books! What a bargain. I may not have made my way through my pile from 2014… but that doesn’t matter, does it?
Calgarians – what neighbourhood do you love to walk in?
Blog readers from anywhere – what book do you recommend for coffee shop reading?