Library initiative hopes to promote better literacy

The Okanagan Regional Library has unveiled its first valley-wide reading project, Okanagan Reads.

Aimed at promoting literacy, the project will encourage participants throughout the Okanagan to read the same book.

Shoot!, a western novel set in the Thompson Okanagan in the late 1800s by George Bowering, an award-winning Okanagan author and Canada’s first Poet Laureate, has been selected as the book for Okanagan Reads. Bowering has published more than 80 books of fiction, history, plays and poetry.

“This ‘one book/one community’ project provides an opportunity for people to read, discuss and connect,” said librarian Fern Teleglow, coordinator of the project. “The Okanagan has a rich heritage and we hope our choice of one book will not only encourage reading, but also connect the community with the history of the area.”

Okanagan Reads, which started Feb. 1 and runs through March 8, will feature author readings, film screenings and book discussions in library branches across the region. Readers can follow the dialogue at and join the discussion on the library’s social media channels.

Shoot! follows the adventures of the McLean Gang and brings to life the historical account of the murder of constable Johnny Ussher in the 1800s. Known as “breeds,” mixed Scottish and Salish blood, the McLeans were outcasts of both cultures and destined to be outlaws.

British Columbia, and in particular the Okanagan, appear frequently in George Bowering’s work, who was born in Penticton and raised in Oliver.

“He paints vitality into the world he creates,” says Teleglow. “Any reader familiar with the area will never look at the history, the hills, and the people the same way ever again.”

Extra copies of Shoot! have been purchased and are also available as Quick Reads, seven-day library loans. Shoot! is also available from local bookstores.

The project is made possible by a $24,000 Libraries and Literacy grant from the B.C. Ministry of Education and support from New Star Books and local Okanagan media.


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