I Love to Read Month, Le mois du plaisir de lecture is an annual celebration that promotes and encourages reading throughout Manitoba. Despite irregular access to public libraries and bookstores, students and staff are still embracing reading during the pandemic. Even in challenging times, reading is sustainable and thriving in our homes, our schools, and our communities. Reading remains one activity that is not cancelled!
During the month of February, classrooms and school libraries in the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) participate in a variety of activities that foster a love of reading which typically includes school-wide assemblies, reading challenges, contests, and in-person guest readers. While our celebrations look different this year, there is no end to the creativity of school library staff in providing safe and engaging opportunities for students and staff to enjoy reading together, yet physically apart. Virtual author visits, online book tastings and outdoor Storywalks® are new ways that library staff are sharing the joy of literacy in our schools.
Reading is an essential skill for everyone and an easy way to keep our brains stimulated. This year, reading has also provided much needed relief from excessive screen time, as well as a sense of escapism when we are confined to our homes and unable to travel. I Love to Read Month, Le Mois du Plaisir de Lecture also highlights new trends emerging in how students read and what they are interested in reading. School libraries are circulating more dystopian and fantasy fiction; more non-fiction books on baking, cooking, knitting and gardening; and more titles on social justice and anti-racism.
This year, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg (RCGW) has identified "Joyful Reading in a New World" as the 2021 theme for I Love to Read. The RCGW encourages all readers "to try new book formats and to take part in engaging activities that are adapted to work with our current situation during a pandemic." In LRSD, we are observing new adaptations such as an increased growth in digital collections and patron access to both ebooks and audio books. Since September 2020, online readership on the LRSD Digital Library has continued to expand, with hundreds of new users and approximately 55,000 digital ebooks and audio-books in circulation. Almost one third of our student population are now accessing our digital library resources for recreational reading, access to online book clubs and research.
Now more than ever, I Love to Read Month, Le Mois du Plaisir de Lecture reminds us that our school libraries play an essential role in enriching the lives of readers of all ages as we work together to make literacy not only an educational goal, but a goal for a lifetime.
-Kathy Atkin, Coordinator of Library Services