Monday, August 23, 2010


This post is for Canadian parents, school administrators and teachers. The info in it is adapted from the Forest of Reading website.

Having been privileged to be part of that amazing program three separate times, I can vouch wholeheartedly for the fabulosity of the Forest of Reading, and the huge, positive impression it makes on the kids who are enrolled. 

With you-know-what just around the corner, this is the perfect time to look ahead and make sure a program is available in your local school and public library. It's easy to set up. Do it now!

What? You don't live in Ontario? Never Fear. You can find similar information for the Children's Choice Book Award in your home province online (see links at the bottom of this post). The info here is pretty representative of how all the programs work.
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Is your child part of the wonderful Forest of Reading program?

If not, it's time to get your child involved.
If they are between Kindergarten and Grade 12, they will want to take part in Canada’s largest recreational reading program! Every school board in Ontario runs these programs, so your child’s school should be involved! If your teacher-librarian, technician or library staff, are not running this program, you need to ask: what can we do to help make this happen?

Students read nominated books to be eligible to vote, and as a parent, you can ensure their success. They must read a minimum of five of the nominated titles on a list to be eligible to vote in the spring. Books are selected each year by committees of Ontario Library Association volunteers that are made up of teacher-librarians and public librarians.

The Forest of Reading® programs were established in 1994 with the Silver Birch® Awards Program. These programs were created to encourage Ontario children to read more, to learn more about Canadian authors/illustrators and to develop powers of discrimination. Above all, the Forest of Reading® programs allow young readers to choose the winners by voting for their favourite books. The program now offers 7 programs and it is growing each year, both in scope and participants.

These awards present an opportunity to honour and encourage imaginative Canadian authors/illustrators who create works with high appeal to the different age groups: Kindergarten to Grade 2, Grades 3 to 6, Grades 7 and 8 and high school students. There are no politics. Authors win by writing books that young readers like¬–pure and simple.

Here's how to get the best from the Forest of Reading program for your child:

  • Make sure your child is in a Forest of Reading® group.

  • Make sure your school or public library has a group in which your young person can participate.

  • Take copies of the Forest of Reading® flyer to show principals, teachers, teacher-librarians, librarians and library staff who may not be familiar with this innovative program.

  • Purchase books for your child’s group. For most schools and libraries, the biggest obstacle to running the programs is finding the funds to purchase the copies necessary to keep excited readers reading. If the books aren't available, you risk frustration and loss of interest, or limiting the number of children who will be able to participate. Libraries will welcome your willingness to fund even one book. Make your support go further by asking librarians to order the books for you; they get a discount.

  • Let other parents know they can help, too. Other parents will want to help as well, but if they do not know about the program, or know there is a need, they will not be able to help. Talk to your home and school group, your principal or your chief librarian.

  • Encourage your child to read, read, read! 
Young people get very excited about this program. Over 200,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 read the Forest of Reading® books in 2010. They take considerable ownership of the program, and they gain even more if the adults around them are cheering them on. It is purely recreational - not tied to the curriculum - and is meant for them to learn to love to read recreationally. You can build interest by reading some of the books aloud or getting your young person to tell you about them.

  • BE A SUPPORTER OF THE FOREST OF READING® , the Ontario Library Association, and your school's library/media centre/information centre!

More information on the programs can be found at:

Canada's Children's Choice Awards:

Atlantic Canada - The Hackmatack Award
British Columbia - The Red Cedar Award
Manitoba  - Manitoba Children's Choice Award
Alberta - Rocky Mountain Book Award
Saskatchewan - The Willow Awards

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lane Anderson Award Nominations Announced

The Lane Anderson Award is a new award for science writing in Canada. It will honour two jury-selected books, adult and young reader, published in the field of science by Canadian-owned publishers, and authored by Canadians. The winner in each category will receive $10,000.

Here are the short lists - one for adult books and one for kids books. 


Alanna Mitchell's Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis
The River Returns: An Environmental History of the Bow by Christopher Armstrong, Matthew Evenden and H.V. Nelles
Top 100 Food Plants: The World’s Most Important Culinary Crops by Ernest Small.

Young Readers:

The Insecto-Files by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Claudia Davila
Big and Small, Room For All by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Gillian Newland
Why Do Horses Have Manes? by Elizabeth MacLeod

Yes! You read that right! My very own The Insecto-Files has made the list!!! I'm sooo excited...I've mentally spent the $10,000 prize six times over!

Two three-person jury panels drawn from the Canadian academic, publishing, creative and institutional fields will review submissions in the two categories, and the jury will be announced with the winners at an event in Toronto on the 15th September.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Books Have Shipped

The Air Lift has Lifted Off! Here's the "before" pic, as the skid is waiting for pick up:

The handsome guy sitting on this skid is my son Michael, who did a lot of the work packing boxes along with his brother. The boxes were then brought to my hubby's company, Protectolite Inc., manufacturer of Very Useful composite plastics, and all around A1 Canadian corporate citizen. So if you happen to need Third Rail insulators, armour plating for your army's people movers or baffles, weirs and covers for your water treatment plant, now you know who to call.

A big shout out to all the staff at Protectolite that wrapped the skid, labelled it, filled out the paperwork, and got the darn thing ready for pick up - Diana, Krista, Jim et al - you're the best!. And speaking of pick up, Protectolite also picked up the tab for customs and brokerage.

MWAH! to all of you!

The skid was picked up this afternoon by ERB Group. Thanks ERBites for all your help! And thanks also for your help in keeping our costs down to the bare bones minimum. You're also the best!

(Side note: ERB bills themselves on their website as the "Refrigerated Transportation Specialists," so it's nice to know our Canadian books will arrive in California cool as Canadian cucumbers!!!

And because he's just so darn cute, here's another picture of my son Michael with the skid. Wonder what (or who) he's looking at...

The Air Lift is Locked, Loaded, and Ready to Take Off!

Things have been really moving along since I last posted about the Air Lift to LA. I've been up to my ear-balls with all the deets of making this happen - arranging the delivery of the books to California; arranging some comp air tickets to fly participating authors down to LA... But now we are set.

The ERB Group has given us an ultra-sweet deal on freight so we can afford to get the books were they need to go. A hearty thank you to all the good folks at Erb, and to brilliant, beautiful and kind librarian/author Nancy Runstedler for making the connection for us.

The big day is October 2nd, when more than 1200 books (the number is still climbing) will be delivered to Bunche School in Compton California. The library is going to be refurbished also as part of Access Books' ongoing projects, so we are, getting Maximum Bang for our Looney.

So far, four authors from Canada will be participating in the Oct 2 event - painting, sorting and presenting. We were soo lucky to received donated air miles to cover some of our flights  from Toronto to LA- I'm going to check if the donors would rather be anonymous before I give them a loud shout out here, but please know how grateful we are for your assistance!!!! I'll provide more details on who's going and what we'll be doing when we get there as they firm up.

If you are in the LA area, please SIGN UP to participate in the event! We need hands and hearts to sort catalogue and shelve books, as well as to paint a fun mural on the library walls to delight and inspire the kids. LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED (That was the deal breaker for me - no lunchy, no worky :)  )

For more info about Access Books, check out this video:

Because: Science!