Calgary children and families have a new place to curl up with a good book.

Calgary Reads has opened a whole house, the Children's Reading Place, with rooms meant to look like the inside of your favourite story.

"Part of our work at Calgary Reads is to find ways to inspire the joy of reading. This feels like joy on steroids, this house," said executive director Steacy Collyer.

Children's reading house

Steacy Collyer is renting her house at below market value to Canada Reads to run the program. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Collyer owns the home at Eighth Avenue and Eighth Street S.E. in the Calgary community of Inglewood. She says the organization is renting it at below assessed market value. Her family loved to read, so she says it's a good fit.

An anonymous donor is helping cover costs for the operation of the home for the first year. The biggest cost of the house is buying the books, many of which children are welcome to take home.

Steacy Collyer

Steacy Collyer, executive director of Calgary Reads, says she hopes the house encourages families to spend time together reading. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The group also hopes to bus in students after school in the future because the house is far from some communities.

"Parents, our hope is, will really see this as an opportunity to talk about reading, to share books, to find their favourite cosy space and then to build this is as a routine experience," Collyer says.

"It's not a program. You are not going to come and drop you kids and leave them here. It is to introduce families or to broaden families' experiences with engaging and amazing reading places."

Calgary reading

Families can find their favourite cosy reading spot. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The house officially opened July 1 in a Canada Day-themed room downstairs. Families started booking on July 6 for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Interior design students at Mount Royal University set up many of the rooms "like its own book," she says, which will be changed on a regular basis.

"In every room you're going to see a whole bunch of books," Collyer says.

Calgary reading house

Children will be able to take many of their favourite books home. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Christine Larrivee of Inglewood Child Development Centre checked out the house on Friday and says she found it to be more than a library. 

"My mind is kind of blown, in all honesty," she said. "It's so beautiful in here and it's so amazingly appropriate for children of all ages."

The space is an immersion environment surrounded by symbols of literacy, such as the photos on the walls and the whale tail in the bath tub.

"I watched the kids in my class their faces just light up with excitement and joy to come into such a beautiful literary environment," said Larrivee.

"It is like being inside of a book rather than on the outside of a book looking in."

With files from Terri Trembath and David Bell