Wednesday, February 19, 2020

I Read Canadian!

February 19th, 2020 marks the debut of 'I Read Canadian' Day which celebrates Canadian children's literature. Students, parents, teachers, librarians, any and all, are being encouraged to drop everything and read Canadian for 15 minutes on this day.

Author Eric Walters initiated the program with the help of colleague, writer and President of CANSCAIP, Sharon Jennings, along with Shelagh Paterson (OLA), Meredith Tutching (Forest of Reading) and Rose Vespa (CCBC).

So get ready to read!

And for some inspiration...

Here a seven fabulous books which were chosen for Gallery Stratford's BABY ART WALK program during Fall 2019. Special guests Shannon Taylor, Graylen Howard, Kris Von Kleist, Jennifer Paquette, Claire Chapple, Liza Balkan and Terry Manzo, helped us celebrate Canadian children's authors, illustrators, publishers, each in their own unique way. And any one of these books would be a remarkable read for 'I Read Canadian' Day!

Actor Shannon Taylor read the beautiful picture book Cloth Lullaby (words by Amy Novelsky & pictures by Canadian illustrator, Isabelle Arsenault) on September 27th and engaged parents, caregivers and babies with rhythm, movement and imagination, using nursery rhymes/fingerplays, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Little Miss Muffet.

On October 11th, Graylen Howard, music therapist and musician, provided a gentle background of calming cello music as the board book Forest Baby by Laurie Elmquist and Shantala Robinson was read aloud. A kinder circle followed with guitar music, singing, playing of instruments both conventional and homemade.

Julie Morstad's beautiful book, how to, was read by Claire Chapple of The Yoga Chapple on November 22nd as she took us all on a joyful journey of exploration, movement, meditation and yoga.

Kris von Kleist, local Stratford videographer shared her incredible skills of capturing unique moments with babies on October 25th. The SITE nature-themed exhibit by Tracey-Mae Chambers was a perfect companion to THE HONEYBEE, another book illustrated by Montreal-based artist Isabelle Arsenault with words by Kirsten Hall.

Jennifer Paquette joined us on November 8th to share her tender picture book wish stunningly illustrated with paintings by Shane Norrie. The fabulous and inventive follow-up baby painting activity was enjoyed by all.

This is Sadie was shared by Liza Balkan. There were babies and boxes, flying horses, swimming fish and a mermaid in the deep blue sea, a howling wolf/dog, birds chirp-chirping in trees, a big, big box which became a boat, then a castle and of course, there was Sadie! Such fun.

And Terry Manzo, Stratford photographer extraordinaire, read the lovely Moon Wishes, with words by Guy and Patricia Storms, and pictures by Milan Pavlovic, and showed us how to take phenomenal photos of little ones.

So, it seems, any day is a good day for reading Canadian.

Books can provide enjoyment, inspire us to use our imaginations, take us on a special journey, get us moving, help us to make sense of our world and so much more.

What will you be reading on Wednesday, February 19th?

I'm still deciding. But in the meantime, I'm making something sweet to accompany my read on this chilly but otherwise heartwarming February day.

Baked Rice Pudding with Maple Syrup
Serves 4 - 6 

Inspiration:  a memory of my mother's creamy baked rice pudding
Be patient as this recipe takes some time to bake!

1/3 cup (75 gr) arborio rice or other short-grained rice
1/4 cup (50 gr) golden cane sugar
3 cups (750 ml) of milk and 1 cup (250 ml) of heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
1 dollop butter
pinch of sea salt
1/8 cup (20 gr) raisins (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

2. Mix all ingredients together in a 4 quart (4L) ceramic/glass pan.

3. Place in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes. Give a stir. Bake for another 30 minutes. Stir again. 

4. Continue baking and stirring every 10-15 minutes or so until the mixture becomes creamy, rice is cooked and most, but not all, of the milk has been absorbed by the rice.

5. Remove from oven. Let pudding rest and cool down a bit.

6. Scoop into serving dishes. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with a drizzle of  classic Canadian maple syrup or maple whipped cream and a few toasted walnuts or sliced almonds. The pudding can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed within 2 days - if there's any left over, that is.

Happy Reading! Happy 'I Read Canadian' Day!

And on Friday, February 21st, join Gallery Stratford's Baby Art Walk program as it, too, continues to celebrate Canadian authors, illustrators and publishers.

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