Booking Time to Read: Literacy Initiatives Marked

Losing yourself in a good book on a frosty winter evening has plenty of benefits for both mind and body. This is especially true if you are a student at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) and the month in question is February!

“I enjoy reading to escape the real world,” says Daniel, a Grade 10 student. “So many people look at the world in such a harsh light, but when you read, you open up your imagination, you allow yourself to take time away from the hardships and the anxiety that comes with looking at the world today. In opening your imagination, you allow for empathy and problem-solving. I imagine a book as a very detailed movie that passes through your mind. It’s an escape into a life that isn’t your own.”


Daniel is the first winner of this year’s edition of SMCS Reads. Now in its twelfth year, SMCS Reads is one of three initiatives of the Odette Library taking place in February to promote literacy. Participants are required to read a book and generate a six-word summary of it. Weekly winners and honourable mentions are announced and prizes earned. 

Canadian literature display in the SMCS Odette Library

“Anyone can write a page summary on a book, but you have to truly understand the book and be able to summarize the whole book in a simple six-word sentence,” says Daniel, who estimates he can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours a day reading for pleasure. “You also need to grasp the judges’ attention. I have learned that the best way to win is to use big words that hold a larger meaning to grasp the audience.”

The 15-year-old is a repeat winner of SMCS Reads, having participated for the first time in 2019.


A new national initiative is part of the second literacy event taking place at SMCS in February.  ‘I Read Canadian’ Day encourages all readers to infuse some Canadian content into their reading fare by exploring the works of authors from this country.

Students were encouraged to pick up a book penned by a Canadian author prior to the Family Day long weekend.

“To participate in this promotion of Canadian literature, we read a book written by a Canadian for a minimum of 15 minutes, then take a picture of the book and/or a selfie with the book and share it on social media with the hashtag #IReadCanadian,” says Sandy Gray, Head Librarian at SMCS.

‘I Read Canadian’ Day will be marked on February 19.

SMCS student studying in the Odette Library.


The third week of February centres on national ‘Freedom to Read’ Week, an annual event which Gray says helps to shake the February blaahs, among other goals.

“In support of the school's Accelerated Reader Program (ARP), it's wonderful if students are engaged with reading in February, so that hopefully they can find a new ARP book to read for English class prior to the March break,” she says.

For those students and parents looking for tips on how to include more reading time into their day, Gray says, “Moderation is key: try to find a few minutes to read every day, preferably when there are few distractions. Many people read just before going to bed, as they need to relax, unwind, and take a break from screen time. It's a great time to pick up a book and lose yourself in a story.”

Upcoming Odette Library initiatives:

February 19: I Read Canadian Day - #IReadCanadian

February 23-29: Freedom to Read Week - #FreedomtoRead

Month of April: National Poetry Month. The Odette Library will host its annual Battle of the Bards poetry contest. Students are invited to submit poems that they have written, on any subject and in any style, for a chance to win a Chapters/Indigo gift certificate. Entries are judged, and one award is given to the Intermediate division (Grades 7-8) and Senior division (Grades 9-12) winners.