Reading Town chooses Moose Jaw as pilot project

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Lisa Goudy
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Reading books is only one part of the Reading Town event set to take place in Moose Jaw from May 3 to 10.

National Reading Campaign, Saskatchewan Festival of Words partner

For a week in May, Moose Jaw will become the first Reading Town in Canada.

“First and foremost is the national profile that Moose Jaw has earned as a terrific host for the Saskatchewan Festival of Words,” said Joe Ralko, publicist and public co-ordinator for Reading Town. “Authors, poets, creators of the spoken word rave about the way that they’re treated in Moose Jaw by the organizers, by the community and the community itself is just the perfect size to have an event like this.”

The National Reading Campaign and the Saskatchewan Festival of Words have partnered to present the weeklong event from May 3 to 10.

“We want to weave reading into every aspect of lives of people in the community through a series of different and exciting, fun events. So it’s going to range from a poem with your pizza,” said Ralko. “We’ve got a group that we’re dealing with that is going to be putting together a poem that’s going to be stapled with every pizza box that’s delivered by a variety of franchises, we hope, in Moose Jaw that week.”

Other events will include reading opportunities in Crescent Park and readings and presentations by Saskatchewan and international authors in “traditional and non-traditional environments,” he said.

“A traditional environment would be a reading in something like your public library,” said Ralko. “A non-traditional might be something in one of the local businesses or plants or it could be in the office of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, which is a provincial not for profit organization or out of Mosaic or across the road at Yara Belle Plaine.”

He said discussions are ongoing with those businesses and organizations.

“We’re approaching them and we’re asking them if they would like to participate, but we’re not telling them how to participate. So it’s more than just making sure that they read your daily newspaper or read a book or read a poem,” said Ralko. “Since we started doing our outreach with different organizations in January … we haven’t had a single business or non-profit organization or government-related entity saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do anything.”

Opening and closing ceremonies with a “high-profile speaker” have yet to be nailed down. Other proposed events might include book bags for new mothers, reading passports to be stamped at each event, a literary character themed community dance, reading events in schools, an evening storytelling pajama party, a city-wide book club, book reviews by youth and sponsored reading events.

The event will also include a Twit Lit competition.

“It’s a poem that individuals will be writing in 140 characters on Twitter and there will be a prize and the poem will be posted,” said Ralko. “I think that’s one of the really nifty activities.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Crescent Park

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