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Ideas to celebrate reading in your school


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By Doni Gratton, Advocacy Co-ordinator, BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association

 

Spring is a great time to cozy up with a good book and cup of tea. Whether your preference is for digital, audio, or physical books, the options are endless. Throughout the year, there are plenty of literary events and opportunities to celebrate love of reading in schools and classrooms. Below is a list of ideas for you to consider as you plan your school’s literary celebrations. Although some of these events have already occurred, they are hosted annually, so start planning next year's literary adventure for you and your students now!

 

Author talks

Author talks are both virtual and in person these days, which makes it easier than ever to book a visit with your class. Check out these venues for a great selection of guest speakers and activities to engage your students:

 

The Children's Writers & Illustrators of British Columbia Society (CWILL BC) allows you to connect with your favourite BC authors and illustrators to inspire your students' inner creativity! Contact CWILL BC for more information at cwillbc@gmail.com. Author talks can be scheduled any time throughout the year, depending on availability.

 

The annual Vancouver Writers Fest has treated Vancouverites to conversations and performances by award-winning authors since 1988. This event occurs in the third week of October, but programming continues year-round. The event hosts children’s, youth, and adult activities, and, since COVID, has been offering some free online programming for kids. 

 

Every spring, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival inspires children and adults by connecting them with storytellers and entertainers from around the world. School tickets are available for field trips.

 

Reading celebrations

Throughout the year, there are several celebrations to honour the joy of reading and draw attention to Canadian authors and books.

 

The fourth Monday in October marks BC School Library Day when students participate in the annual DEAR challenge: Drop Everything and Read! The message behind DEAR has been around for decades; this internationally celebrated day is recognized by Canadian School Libraries and we have legislation to support it. Use DEAR day to kick off a week’s worth of reading celebrations in your school: 


  • Capture photos of students or entire classes reading that day and send them to the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association Instagram page: @bctlaofficial 

  • Create a display for students to match teachers’ names to their favourite books.

  • Collect students’ photos showcasing their own family reading time and post these to a school bulletin board or screen.

  • Create a book bingo, genre challenge, or Kahoot with your students, where they have to match authors’ names to their books.

 

I Read Canadian Day is the national celebration of Canadian books for young people. Here are some ways to celebrate:


  • Display Canadian books around your school—yes, even in the staffroom!

  • Host a silent reading time dedicated to Canadian authors.

  • Ask students to bring their favourite stuffy to school and read a Canadian story to it.

  • Read a poem or biography by a Canadian author.

  • Host a school visit by a Canadian author.

 

February 14 is also Love Your School Library Day. What better excuse to celebrate your library than Valentine’s Day? Check out the blog that honours Love Your School Library Day by École Sperling Library in Burnaby. It even offers multilanguage translation for the blog—now that is showing a lot of love for reading!

 

Book awards that inspire

Book awards can be a great place to get inspiration for your next book. Check out the awards below for student-selected book recommendations.

 

Red Cedar Book Awards has an amazing list of fiction and non-fiction titles for Grades 4 to 7, curated from dozens of newly published Canadian books each year. Students read as many of the titles as they can and vote on their favourite from each category. Results are collected in the spring, with the students’ choice becoming the winner!

 

With so many BC books published each year, it can be hard to choose which ones to stock in your library. Chocolate Lily Book Awards allows students in Kindergarten to Grade 7 to choose their favourites. Check out the website for more details on registering to participate.


Recreational reading programs

Reading programs can build excitement and help readers set individual reading goals. Below are some recreational reading programs your students may be interested in.

 

Battle of the Books is a reading competition where students read and answer questions from selected titles. Various school districts create their own Battle of the Books for readers across many grades. In Kamloops, Battle of the Books has quite an impressive selection of books this year for Grades 3–12, with an aim to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading and to broaden reading interests. 

 

Canada’s largest recreational reading program, Forest of Reading, is based in Ontario but the books come from every province. The program has selected Canadian book lists for all ages, and the library registration includes author visits and presentations. Check out the Forest of Reading for more details and have fun diving into reading with your students! 


Many public libraries help run the popular Summer Reading Club. Kids in Kindergarten to Grade 6 are encouraged to read 15 minutes a day for 50 days. Grades 6 and up complete book reviews for a chance to win a coveted book prize. Your community library may also support you in the Reading Link Challenge for students in Grades 4 and 5. This epic reading adventure is like a student book club with book trivia created and co-hosted by your community library. Contact your community library to see if they already take part in this BC-wide event or if they would be willing to start a new group. After all, community libraries are a school library’s best friend.

 

Honouring languages in the school library

Global language bins are a collection of books written in first and second languages of your students. Do you have a space in your library for books that are written in languages other than English or French? See if students or parents would be interested in donating books in their first language, and see how many different languages you can house in your library!

 

Book fairs

Scholastic Book Fairs are a great way to promote literacy at your school, and to fundraise for classroom and library books at your school. Contact bookfairs@scholastic.ca to get in touch with your book fair consultant and arrange your own book fair!

 

Have recommendations?

Do you know of any other reading challenges or contests promoted to students in BC? Reach out to @BCTLAOfficial on our Instagram or email bctla@bctf.ca and we will share with followers/members across the province!

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