Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Sept. 8, 2023
Little Red Reading House now part of University of Calgary
“I love reading so much because it takes me to another world,” says 11-year-old Grayson Eyford, an avid and enthusiastic reader and fan of the Little Red Reading House. Located in the heart of Inglewood, the house regularly welcomes children and their families to discover the joy of reading.
Under the leadership of Calgary Reads, it has been helping promote literacy and a love for books since 2017. Now, Calgary Reads has gifted the Little Red Reading House to UCalgary with support from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Literacy is a critical part of a child’s early development. As a community-based research site, the house will continue to welcome children and families for visits, while also generating exciting new opportunities for UCalgary researchers to engage with families and community partners.
“With the Little Red Reading House now under the stewardship of the Owerko Centre, we will have so many wonderful ways to link UCalgary research with children and families. The cross-pollination of ideas will lead to so many new insights and discoveries in children’s health and well-being,” says Dr. Susan Graham, PhD, director of the Owerko Centre.
The decision to gift the house to the university came as part of Calgary Reads’ strategy to see the impact of its programs grow by leveraging the strengths of partners across the community. “For decades, Calgary Reads has been a champion of every child’s right to read. That need continues to grow, so we have turned to leading organizations in the community to carry the torch and scale up to help all children in Calgary become confident readers,” says Steacy Pinney, CEO of Calgary Reads.
With many playful nooks and crannies to discover and walls of books to choose from, the house was designed as a space for kids to follow their curiosity. Every child gets to take a book home to keep — something to treasure as their own. The gifting of the Little Red Reading House comes with support from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, a long-standing collaborator of the university that shares in its vision to invest in children’s health and wellness.
“Literacy is a key social determinant of health and an important pathway for children that leads them to greater opportunities and healthier outcomes,” says Saifa Koonar, president and CEO of Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“By empowering children through literacy, we can help strengthen our entire community.”
The impact of the house goes beyond its walls. To allow all families the opportunity to engage, there are reading place affiliates throughout Calgary, as well as the Little Red Reading Van which visits sites across Calgary to give out books. Under the Owerko Centre’s leadership, these services will continue.
UCalgary is celebrating this milestone to mark International Literacy Day. Originally launched by UNESCO in 1967, International Literacy Day brings attention to the importance of literacy as a key to education and lifelong learning, and as a matter of human rights. Literacy is important in creating communities that are inclusive, equitable and sustainable.
For kids like Grayson, reading is a chance to explore entirely new worlds, experience unique perspectives, and let his imagination go to different places. With the Little Red Reading House joining UCalgary, there will be exciting opportunities for children and families to partner with research happening at the university and create bigger impact for the community.
Child Health and Wellness
The University of Calgary is driving science and innovation to transform the health and well-being of children and families. Led by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, top scientists across the campus are partnering with Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and our community to create a better future for children through research.
Susan Graham is a professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts. She is director of the Owerko Centre and a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine. She is also scientific director of the Azrieli Accelerator.