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

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