For those who know even the slightest thing about me, they know that I’m basically obsessed with all things Iceland. In 2014, following the onset of a direct flight from Edmonton to Reykjavik, I made two separate trips to Iceland, the first in April for a long sight-seeing trip and a writers’ retreat, and the second in November for a music festival (writing and music – my two big things). One of the most fascinating things about Iceland to me is their long and illustrious dedication to a literary tradition. In fact, Reykjavik is one of seven cities in the world that has been named a UNESCO City of Literature.
The jólabókaflóð, or “Christmas Book Flood”, is so aptly named since most new Icelandic books are published in the months leading into Christmas, which is largely due to the fact that books still remain the most popular Christmas gift in Iceland. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that books are even in the top five Christmas gifts in Edmonton, since we do not seem to share in this same commitment to literacy.
The love of reading is fostered from a young age, and encourages life-long learning and better performance in school and university. 57% of children in Edmonton are not ready for kindergarten, largely due to no earlier introduction to books and reading. This year, Bookstravaganza is supporting EPL’s Welcome Baby program to help introduce books to a child’s household early, and hopefully better prepare them not only for school, but for a life-long love of reading. Please consider making a donation to this cause to help ignite that young passion for books (and maybe consider giving your loved ones books as gifts this Christmas instead of video games?).
So here we are, doing our own Christmas Book Flood – last year, the group of us read 123 books in the month of December, and this year, we hope to read even more! I know I don’t live in Iceland, but perhaps with a stronger sense of literacy and a love of reading locally, we can kind of pretend.