I Love to Read Month puts the “heart” in books and literacy as part of a month-long celebration each February, and schools across our division have been busy planning activities to engage students and encourage a love of reading.
On February 2, 2021, a number of Pembina Trails staff and students were featured on CTV Morning Live, to kick off the month with “love stories” featuring books and reading.
Shaftsbury students Casey Maxwell (Grade 12) and Cony Moraga Alvarez (Grade 11) spoke up from behind stacks of books they have shared and built their friendship on. “This is just a small section of the books [we’ve read],” grins Casey from behind her mask. “We kind of just bonded over books,” says Cony.
Michelle Barclay, a teacher-librarian at Dalhousie School, showed us how picture books can help children cope in a pandemic. The Color Monster (Anna Llenas) uses colours and cute monsters to help kids identify their feelings and express them. ABC Mindful Me (Christiane Engel) guides kids and parents through mindfulness exercises like breathing activities or drawing a mandala.
Teacher-librarian Bev Werbuk showed how the library staff at Shaftsbury School have set up “blind dates with a book” by wrapping books in brown paper and writing tantalizing clues on the wrapping.
“We want to engage students by getting them to select books they might not normally choose,” she says. She opens her own “blind date” right on camera, revealing Strangers by Winnipeg author David Alexander Robertson. “I think it’ll work out,” she says of her “match.”
Kaitlyn Voth of Westdale School explains how she has drawn her students into the world of Harry Potter by bringing the stories to life in the classroom. They assigned themselves to Hogwarts houses, made their own wands, and then headed outside to play Quidditch – on the ground, of course!
Shawna Nagler, Curriculum and Learning Services, shared stories by Indigenous authors that can “support us in our desire to be in right relationship with the lands.” Local writer Tasha Spillett's graphic novel series, Surviving the City, speaks to kinship, resilience, and growing up Indigenous in an urban landscape. Spillett’s upcoming book is called I Sang You Down From The Stars, for parents who want to remind children how loved they are. The Water Walker (Joanne Robertson) is the true-life story of Josephine Mandamin, who invites us to join her on a journey to protect Nibi (water) for future generations.
February is the month to fall in love with books, and the pandemic is the perfect reason to rediscover our love of books this year. There’s something out there for everyone, say Casey and Cony.
“You don’t have to read the massive novels… you just gotta find your thing.”