1 May 2015

Hooray for the Forest of Reading!

Post by Helaine Becker

I'm gearing up this week for the thrilling  celebration of children's books that is Ontario's Forest of Reading. This incredible program, organized by the Ontario Library Association, gives kids from primary school and up the chance to read great contemporary books and vote for their favorites.

More than 250,000 readers from all across the province participate annually. Think about it - a quarter of a million kids are reading both voluntarily, and voraciously. 

So don't tell me kids don't like to read! 

More than 700 kids attended this Niagara area
Silver Birch celebration a few years ago.
The luckiest get to attend mammoth award ceremonies - more like rock concerts, complete with screaming fans, paparazzi and authors being swarmed by fans requesting autographs - that are held in Toronto, Thunder Bay, London, and more. As many as 4,000 readaholics can attend one of these events.

At this Mississauga area event, more than 4000
screaming kids rocked the Hershey Arena!

The Mississauga event featured a full day of
entertainment for the lucky attendees

There was cake too. :) 

This year, I'm over the moon that my latest science-related title, Zoobots,  is a nominee on the Silver Birch nonfiction list, geared for students in grades 4-6.

This means that in addition to winding up with a pretty heavy schedule of school presentations, I get to be on stage during each of these award ceremony/celebrations. 

For authors like me, who are used to sitting at home, alone,  most of the year, this onslaught of attention is both overwhelming and exhilarating! It is literally the highlight of my calendar. This is my fifth time lucky enough to participate in the Festival. And lemme tell ya, it never gets old. 

Be sure to check out all the Forest of Reading lists - they are chock-full of fabulous books! 

You can find the Silver Birch nonfiction list here and the fiction list here.

If you are a parent, teacher or librarian anywhere in Ontario, get the kids you know involved in the Forest of Reading! If you live outside of Ontario, get involved in your own region's children's choice award program. BC, for example, boasts the Red Cedar Awards,  and the Atlantic Provinces have the Hackmatack. Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba each have their own programs, as do many American states. 

If your area does not yet have a children's choice program, contact the OLA and find out how they operate Forest of Reading so you can start a similar program. Because children's choice award programs like this one are one of the best ways I know to stimulate a love of reading, build literacy, and encourage engagement with learning.

And please wish me luck! I'll need it, if only to survive the crazy, euphoric pace of Silver Birch Season.

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