Calgary Reads Big Book Sale Celebrates 20 Years of Readers Helping Readers

The used book sale, which returns from May 10 to 20 this year, has raised $3.5 million for childhood literacy over the years.

Photo courtesy of Calgary Reads Big Book Sale.

Every spring, thousands upon thousands of books are spread across dozens of tables for the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale. The 10-day event, which has been held at the Calgary Curling Club for the past several years, draws in crowds of readers who flock to the sale to browse and buy gently used books.

This year’s sale runs from May 10 to 20 and will mark its 20th anniversary.

Over the years, the sale has raised $3.5 million for childhood literacy, a feat supported by more than 1,000 sale volunteers annually and community members who donated around 200,000 books last year.

The sale was previously run by early literacy organization Calgary Reads. After that organization was dissolved in 2023, its initiatives and resources were spread across seven partner organizations with the goal of achieving more effective and impactful efforts. The Rotary Club of Calgary began stewarding the sale last year.

“The generosity of Calgarians through the books that they donate and the time that they give is absolutely why, 20 years later, we have such a beautiful community event,” says Steacy Pinney, Rotary Club of Calgary’s Early Childhood Literacy Director.

Pinney says there’s an urgent need to ensure children have the right reading resources, materials, teachers and skills. It’s a cause Calgarians clearly agree with, as more than 14,000 readers bought books to support last year’s sale.

“We have built a family of community members who come back year, after year, after year, and become year-round ambassadors for early childhood literacy,” Pinney says.

May 10 to 20 at the Calgary Curling Club, 720 3 St. N.W.; bigbooksale.ca

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This article appears in the May 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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