Canada’s largest children’s literary festival treats authors like rock stars
Author Kelley Armstrong
More than 8,000 Ontario school children from kindergarten to high school age are expected at the Harbourfront Centre Tuesday and Wednesday to participate in the 19th annual Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™, a celebration of the love of reading presented by the Ontario Library Association and the Authors at Harbourfront literary reading program.
The festival will host more than 70 authors and book illustrators for readings and workshops, book signings, Q&A sessions, book-making and illustration exhibits, and other reading related activities at the festival, which is supported by Ontario schools and is also open to the public, Meredith Tutching, program coordinator for the Ontario Library Association, told the Star.
“To the young readers, these authors are rock stars. More than 250,000 Ontario school children have voted on their favourites in seven fiction and non-fiction ‘trees’, or age categories of readers, and when the winners are announced in sequence during the 2-day event, they roar like fans at a rock festival.”
Organizers are expecting 1,700 to attend each award presentation in the Harbourfront Centre’s band shell, Tutching said.
Participants for this year’s festival include nominated authors Kelley Armstrong (The Calling, Spell Bound), Gail Sidonie Sobat (In The Graveyard), rapper Wes “Maestro” Williams (Stick to Your Vision), Neil Pasricha (The Book of Awesome) and Kevin Sylvester (Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders).
ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers presented by the Festival of Authors as part of the Festival of Trees program, will host guest appearances by children’s authors Eric Walters and Teresa Toten (The Taming), and Karen Levine (Hana’s Suitcase).
“This is a major gathering of children’s authors and book publishers, the largest children’s literary event in Canada,” Tutching added.
“The purpose is to engage young readers, and to encourage the joy of reading. On a commercial level, it benefits authors as well. Nominated books go on to be best sellers.”
For the first time, the Forest of Reading Festival of Trees will follow up the Toronto event this year with a road tour, featuring 12 authors to 1,000 young readers in Ottawa and 8 to 1,100 in Thunder Bay, Tutching said.