View From the Legislature

I Love to Read Month, Promoting the Importance and Love of Reading

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

Each February, since at least 1980, has been recognized as a month to promote both the importance and love of reading. For many decades now, the Reading Council of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Reading Association have worked to make this a special month to create a love of reading in all ages, but especially in the early learning years.

In 1997, the provincial government under Premier Gary Filmon created what was then known as the Premier’s Reading Recognition Certificate to encourage young students to set reading goals. It was a recognition from the highest political office in Manitoba that improving reading would improve the overall well being of students and Manitoba generally.

Since that time, I Love to Read Month has continued to grow with many schools across the province hosting special events. These events often entail having guests attend the school to read books to students. While I have had the opportunity to participate as a guest reader in local schools many years, some of the real star readers have included local media celebrities and members of the Winnipeg Jets and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Over the past several years for I Love to Read Month I have asked the librarians of schools in my constituency to provide me with a few book selections their students would like. Purchasing these books is always interesting for me because it gives me a sense of the evolving reading interests of students in various grades. As Steinbach has changed and become more culturally diverse, the book requests have shown that, often reflecting different cultures and traditions. Some requests reflect Manitoba in other ways, with one selection being a book specifically on the study of Polar Bears. In middle schools and high schools, much like when I was a teenager, book interests centered around science fiction and fantasy themes.

Overall, the diversity of books requested this year reflected the diversity of the intended audience. The importance of them was less about the subject matter and more that they encouraged young people to read and develop literacy skills that will benefit them for their entire life.

Today, much of the reading that happens both for work and pleasure, takes place on electronic devices. While I still personally enjoy reading a book in a traditional format, I too find myself reading more electronic books and increasingly listening to audio books.

When I Love to Read Month started many years ago, these mediums were not largely available or even invented. Even as a parent I saw how reading habits changed as a result of technology in my own household. Despite these changes it remains true today that reading is a foundational skill for learning and the more it is encouraged and fostered at a young age, the more likely a student will succeed in learning throughout their life.

To those parents who are raising younger children and who are incorporating reading into a daily routine, or for older students who have found their own love for reading, may you be encouraged knowing that you are not only doing something you enjoy but that is immensely beneficial. I would also like to especially thank all those in our school system who are planning special events for I Love to Read Month and who work to build a love for reading in students all year long. It is truly an investment that will pay a lifetime of dividends.