Now that I’m an ‘urban mom’, I’m constantly on the look-out for child-friendly spaces in downtown Calgary. Recently, I discovered a wonderful place called The Children’s Reading Place, which is a beautiful little home found in the neighborhood of Inglewood, full of books and magical little reading spaces. This house in maintained by the not-for-profit Calgary Reads, which is dedicated to nurturing literacy in children. The concept of the home is simple; book a one-hour time slot  to bring your child(ren), spend that time with them reading the numerous books available, explore the hidden crannies bursting with activities, take a book home with you (for free!), read to your kids regularly when you get home, then sit back and watch them flourish*.

One of the little ‘reading areas’ set up all around the house

When I went a few weeks ago I brought along my almost three-year-old and mother-in-law. Everyone had an amazing time because there was so much to see and do. I was in awe of how detailed every little space in that house was-every closet, cubby and corner was filled to the brim with books, even the bathrooms had book displays!

This was one of the more ‘play-based’ craft rooms, but there are still lots of books and areas to read!

The volunteers and ‘reader-in-residence’ were most helpful, offering to read books to the little ones and proudly pointing out all the art and design work that went into each room. Local university students were brought in to make the space as unique as possible, building creative touches into every possible square inch of this home. The reservation system was perfect because it ensured not too many people were there at once, so it was still conducive to cuddling up with your little one and reading out loud without the worry of disturbing others. Before you leave the house provides you with a sticker where you can write your child’s name in the book you decide to take home. We ended up with a copy Melanie Watt’s Chester, but there were hundreds of (used) books to choose from, so it was a very tough decision!

My daughter loved playing with the home-made doll house set up in one of the closets

The Reading House also accepts book donations; children’s books as well as adult, so of course I unloaded my book shelf and brought a few with me. I’m happy to know these are going to end up in well-deserving hands, and any proceeds that Calgary Reads makes off the adult books (which are sold at their annual book sale) are wisely spent improving the literacy rate of Calgary, so it’s a win-win for everybody.

I will definitely be booking more appointments at the Reading House, there was so much for us to explore that we didn’t get a chance to see our first time around. If you’re a Calgary parent looking for a cost-effective and rewarding experience for your children, this place is definitely a destination for you.

*To be clear, a flourishing child will require more than one visit to the Reading House, at least two is recommended 🙂

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