The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg (RCGW) has been dedicated to promoting literacy and developing lifelong readers since 1956. We have a proud history of being a literacy leader in Winnipeg and its surrounding area. We are a Special Area Group of Educators (SAGE) of the Manitoba Teachers' Society and a local council of the International Literacy Association.
RCGW provides professional development for educators, shares resources and ideas on our website, celebrates I Love to Read month, promotes literacy in the community, honours literacy leaders and up-and-coming teacher candidates, and supports literacy projects. Join RCGW today!
It is with great sadness that the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg learned that Past President Dr. Zakaluk, Professor Emerita, passed away on May 17, 2022. Bev was an inspiration to many people in Manitoba. She was a very devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. We are very sorry for the family’s loss.
Bev faced the inevitable challenges in life with grace, dignity, and hard work. She obtained her first three degrees, B.A. B. Ed., and her M.Ed., from the University of Manitoba. Bev loved teaching and completed her training at The Provincial Normal School in 1951. She first taught as an elementary classroom teacher in Bisset, Manitoba. There she met a middle school educator who was to become her devoted husband, Bernard Zakaluk. She later taught at Woodhaven Elementary School. After completing her master’s degree in education, Bev became a Reading Clinician at the Child Guidance Clinic in Winnipeg School Division, where she worked in multiple schools.
Dr. Zakaluk later completed her doctorate at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Bev was a doctoral student of Dr. Jay Samuels, and together they published a helpful book called Readability: Its Past, Present, and Future. For years, their book was often quoted in the literature. Later in her career, Dr. Zakaluk self-published Family Literacy Programs: The Bookmates Experience. She also had several articles published about her other initiatives as a contributor to Reading Manitoba, the former journal of the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg, as well as other journals.
Manitobans were very happy that Dr. Zakaluk returned to Manitoba after her doctoral studies. For over 25 years, she taught many university courses at all levels, including certification, post-baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral courses. Many teachers and reading clinicians speak very positively of Bev as an insightful mentor and supportive academic advisor. As a professor, she was demanding and rigorous. She also knew how to inspire and patiently nurture emerging potential. As a colleague, Bev modelled collaboration as she engaged in school-based research and numerous projects with other professors and school personnel. Upon her retirement, Dr. Zakaluk was honoured by being designated as Professor Emerita by the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Zakaluk strongly recommended that her students join the International Reading Association (which later became the International Literacy Association). She urged students to read the journals and maximize the use of teaching and learning resources published by the IRA. She encouraged attendance at the annual IRA conferences and took great pleasure in introducing her graduate students to the distinguished international literacy leaders who came to speak in Manitoba.
Bev was a role model as a Manitoba literacy leader, becoming president of the local council of the IRA, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg. She planned enriching professional learning sessions and conferences with her teams. Bev was an innovative person who began the development of “I Love to Read Day” in the eighties. Her vision expanded with many projects in Manitoba. Her idea of “I Love to Read Day” eventually led to the annual, provincial celebration of a whole month of literacy activities in February. Bev was deeply honoured to become a lifetime member of the RCGW.
Bev joined the Manitoba Council of Reading Clinicians (MCRC) and continued to teach graduate courses to prepare reading clinicians for service in Manitoba. She also mentored clinicians in the field to develop a rich repertoire of assessment tools and encouraged creative programming linked to Manitoba curricula. She urged new clinicians to be active in the MCRC’s activities and she attended as often as she could. She became an Honourary Life Member of MCRC and delighted in attending council events well into her eighties.
Dr. Zakaluk was a firm believer in the power of parental involvement in literacy development. In 1984, she was one of the founders of Bookmates, Inc., which continues as a not-for-profit organization in Winnipeg. She maintained her devotion to the Bookmates’ mission to inspire families and communities to grow together through the shared joy of literacy learning. Bev remained an avid promoter of public libraries for families. Later in her career, she wrote a book, Family Literacy Programs: The Bookmates Experience to make the larger community aware of the importance of Winnipeg’s model parental involvement program to enhance literacy.
Over the decades, Bev was acknowledged for her many contributions and became an award-winning educator. She was honoured for her indefatigable dedication to education and literacy by many organizations. Her well-deserved, prestigious awards include the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Literacy; the YMCA-YWCA 2002 Women of Distinction Award for Education, Training, and Development; the Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Saunderson Award for excellence in teaching and later the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching; the UMFA Faculty of Education Merit Award; and the University of Manitoba Outreach Award.
Bev’s devoted leadership and service to our community was also recognized nationally and internationally. She was awarded a national volunteer award for Canadian educators, the International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, and a Certificate of Merit from the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg. As a member of Manitoba Reading Association, she continued to follow the literacy initiatives of each of the reading councils with enthusiasm.
We are truly grateful for the vision, dedication, inspiration, emotional and academic support that Dr. Zakaluk demonstrated in her long and meaningful life, as a distinguished Manitoba educator, reading clinician and professor. She will be deeply missed by many former students and colleagues. May Bev’s memory continue to inspire her family, colleagues, friends, and former students. We are grateful for her years of dedication to the development of literacy at all levels in Manitoba. She truly enhanced the literacy landscape of our province in all her endeavours.
This tribute was also published on the MCRC website. Please also see Dr. Zakaluk's obituary.
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg honoured dedicated educators and innovative university students during its annual Awards & Scholarship Ceremony last Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Niakwa Country Club.
Held in partnership with the Manitoba Reading Association, the evening included the presentation of four RCGW scholarships, in honour of its 65th anniversary, along with four certificates of merit and an honorary membership. Over fifty guests attended to celebrate the winners' accomplishments.
Congratulations to the RCGW 65th Anniversary Scholarship winners Katia St. Vincent, Julie-Anne Delaquis, Morgan Pisni-Ray, and Zunaira Sattar. Congratulations to Krista Wilcox, Jackie Bailey, Ruth Jones, and Val Allan, recipients of the RCGW's Certificate of Merit, awarded for outstanding achievement in reading in the areas of research, classroom teaching, or teacher education.
Several Manitoba Reading Association awards were also presented. The MRA Crocus Award for Literacy: Advocacy was presented to Joel Simkin and Fatima Ramjiawan, and the MRA Crocus Award for Literacy: Administrators was presented to Lucy Schnaider and Rex Ferguson-Baird. Finally, the International Literacy Association's Celebrate Literacy Award was bestowed upon Rosa Messina, the first ever educational assistant to earn this prestigious international award.
Congratulations to all the deserving winners! Please check back for photographs in the coming weeks.
The Manitoba Reading Association invites you to join their Board of Directors and to nominate school leaders and literacy advocates for the Crocus Literacy Awards. See below for more information.
Applications for this year's Literacy Grants are now being accepted from Current RCGW Members! Please apply by April 8, 2022. For more information, see the poster and application form below.
Download the application form below (docx format).
Our annual scholarships for Bachelor of Education students in Manitoba are back! See the information below and apply by April 1, 2022 deadline.
Written by Jon Sorokowski and Carol Hryniuk-Adamov
February has long been recognized in Manitoba as I Love to Read Month under the leadership of the province’s reading councils. For several decades, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg and the Manitoba Reading Association have promoted this month-long celebration of reading in response to the International Reading Association’s call in the early 1980s to host events in February to foster a love of reading.
RCGW’s president Dr. Bev Zakaluk established the province’s first I Love to Read Day in February 1980. In 1984, the Honourable Pearl McGonigal, Manitoba’s first female lieutenant governor, invited Grade 3 students from Birds’ Hill School to share stories and enjoy refreshments in the Manitoba Legislative Building’s Blue Room. The Lieutenant Governor presented them with a book bound in red velvet containing stories the students had written. “I will never forget that day we spent with Her Honour,” one student shared. “I think she liked us as much as we liked her!”
The mid-80s saw RCGW join forces with the Winnipeg Public Library and Manitoba School Library and Audio-Visual Association (now the Manitoba School Library Association) to host exciting community events at the Eaton Place Mall and Centennial Library. The collaborative events, held yearly between 1987 and 1989, were opened by local dignitaries and welcomed hundreds of children, parents, teachers and librarians who participated in reading activities and enjoyed the wonderful entertainment.
The vibrant energy of I Love to Read Month continued to rise in the early 90s. RCGW published its first I Love to Read Month Idea Calendar to coincide with the International Year of Literacy in 1990. RCGW also hosted Manitoba’s Biggest Read-In at The Forks, where 300 students participated in person and over 10,000 students participated in their own communities. In 1991, Polo Park Mall hosted a very festive I Love to Read Day. The entire shopping centre was decorated, with over 1,400 children and their family members taking part in the celebration’s many activities and workshops.
The Province of Manitoba has recognized or proclaimed February as I Love to Read Month for many years. In 1997, the Honourable Premier Gary Filmon launched the Premier’s Reading Recognition Certificate, encouraging children in Grades 2 and 3 to set a goal to increase how much they would read. Many education ministers have since taken time in February to acknowledge the importance of literacy and highlight special events.
Over the years, RCGW also has coordinated outreach campaigns to promote the love of reading. One year, RCGW invited educators to order special I Love to Read Month buttons, while another year the committee launched a bus shelter poster campaign to promote the importance of reading with loved ones. More recently, RCGW has donated books to the Children’s Hospital Cancer Care Unit so that children and youth have access to affirming and inspiring books during their stay at the hospital.
Today, many educators honour I Love to Read Month by hosting celebrations of literacy and welcoming guest readers into their classrooms. It is common to spot local celebrities — including Winnipeg Jets players and radio station hosts — reading their favourite picture books to young children in classrooms throughout the month of February. The Manitoba Reading Association has a committee that takes the lead on selecting a yearly theme to focus I Love to Read Month efforts, while the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg continues to produce its very popular annual idea calendar. Many schools build on these ideas and host their own book drives and special events.
Through these continued efforts, dynamic partnerships, and the ongoing dedication of thousands of educators across Manitoba, I Love to Read Month will continue to advance the Manitoba Reading Association’s vision of “Every Manitoban a Literate Manitoban” and nurture in all readers a lifelong love of reading.
This year's I Love to Read Month theme is Moving Forward with Hope.
Share the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg's Idea Calendar today!
Congratulations to Nicola Wedderburn, who was recently appointed Interim Executive Director of the International Literacy Association. Wedderburn has worked for ILA for 10 years, most recently as Director of Business Development. She is the first Black woman and the youngest person to serve as Executive Director of ILA.
For more information, please see ILA's press release.
June 6, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. Contact us for more information!
Meetings are open to all members. Please consider attending!
We welcome short book reviews, articles about teaching strategies, and other submissions. Please contact the Editor.