At the Committee of the Whole meeting held on May 30th, Algoma District School Board (ADSB) trustees and senior administration found out about an impressive literary event that many ADSB students took part in earlier this month.
The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program and it continues to grow. It is made up of programs geared towards readers in kindergarten through to Grade twelve. Established twenty-three years ago, the intent is to encourage reading for pleasure in school-aged children across the country and to increase awareness for Canadian books and authors. Twenty six ADSB schools from across the district participated in the Forest of Reading this year by reading select books and voting on favorite authors.
Every year, the Forest of Reading programs culminate in an event called the Festival of Trees. The winners of each program, as chosen by young readers, are announced at the Festival of Trees events, and many authors and illustrators are in attendance, delivering hands on workshops and mingling with their young fans.
In 2012, the Festival, always held in Toronto, began touring and this year, for the second year in a row, Sault Ste Marie was chosen as a Festival of Trees satellite location. On May 19th, the Festival of Trees was held at the Essar Centre. Winning authors were announced in particular categories, again chosen by young readers themselves who voted for their favorite books.
Fifteen ADSB schools and four Parenting and Family Literacy Centres (PFLCs) representing approximately 900 students and educators attended the event at the Essar Centre. Students from Mountain View Public School and Blind River Public School spoke at the Committee of the Whole meeting and shared what it was like for them to attend the event and to meet authors of some of their favorite books.
Nine children’s authors of fiction and non-fiction attended Sault Ste Marie’s Festival of Trees. Joel Sutherland is the author of the Haunted Canada Series and was winner in the Silver Birch category for non-fiction writing. Joel has won this award for the past two years and has been in attendance both years here in Sault Ste Marie to receive his award. Other authors at the Essar Centre event included Helaine Becker (Worms for Breakfast; Monster Science); Vikki VanSickle (If I had a Gryphon); Phillippa Dowding (Monster Makers; The Monster Outside) and Shane Peacock (The Artist and Me).
A number of ADSB students were invited to march in with and introduce individual authors, while all students at the event participated in author workshops, book signings and hands-on activities including crafts, 3-D imaging, selfie booth and Vex Robotics. They were also entertained throughout the day by local students who sang, danced and performed for the audience.