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‘If we don’t protect our culture, we lose it’: Authors team up for ‘I Read Canadian’

Click to play video: 'Students across Canada encouraged to read books written by Canadian authors' Students across Canada encouraged to read books written by Canadian authors
WATCH: A new nationwide initiative is encouraging students to read books written by Canadian authors, and with so many at home thanks to the pandemic, it just might be the perfect time for the first ever ‘I read Canadian Day.’ Shelley Steeves has more – Feb 17, 2021

Students across Canada are being encouraged to read books written by Canadian authors on ‘I Read Canadian Day.’

“They talk about the importance of kids needing to see themselves in stories. We need to see ourselves in those stories as Canadians,” said well-known Canadian children’s author Eric Walters.

Walters said he developed the idea for I Read Canadian Day while driving across the country on a book tour.

“Sales of Canadian books have dramatically declined over the last 10 years despite there being more books. We are being overwhelmed by the United States,” he said.

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In an effort to promote Canadian books and authors, Walters teamed up with the Ontario Library Association, the Children’s Book Centre and the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors Association to work with schools to encourage students across the country to pick up and read a Canadian book for at least 15 minutes on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

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“If we don’t protect our culture, we lose it,” he said.

The first I Read Canadian Day was launched in February 2020 and since then, 4,000 schools across the country have become engaged in the program, said Walters.

New Brunswick author Jennifer McGrath, who is currently working on her fifth children’s book, is also encouraging students to get lost in words written in the true north.

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“Canada consistently creates and produces some of the most wonderful and highest-quality literature for children anywhere in the world and I think not a lot of people necessarily realize that,” said McGrath.

McGrath’s first children’s adventure novel, Chocolate River Rescue, has sold around the globe.

“All of my stories personally really arise out of a sense of place, out of a sense of the landscape and that connection to community,” she said.

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Walters said the blend of cultures in Canada is as diverse as the books being produced.

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“We want to celebrate all of those cultures,” he said.

That same message was echoed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a video to the young people of Canada.

“We are very lucky because Canada is home to some of the world’s best authors and illustrators,” said Trudeau.

“I know that this school year has been tough. You are missing your friends and you are missing birthday parties and you are staying inside more than you would like,” he said.

He said it is the perfect time to pick up and read a Canadian book.

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