MARISSA CAMBELL Special to The Standard
DURHAM: Durham District School Board (DDSB) celebrates literacy, Canadian authors and kids reading at the 19th Annual Durham Forest of Reading Celebration
On May 13, approximately 1000 students from the DDSB and Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) attended the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Forest of Reading Celebration at Ontario Tech University (formerly UOIT). The event capped off a year’s worth of reading, as students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 pledged to read 10 books and then vote for their favourites.
The Forest of Reading program is run by the OLA for schools and public libraries across the province and encourages a love of reading. In Durham, the year-end celebration marked the 19th collaboration between DDSB, DCDSB and Teacher Librarians from both school boards. Thirteen Canadian OLA authors attended the event and winning books make up the Silver Birch and Red Maple program for 2018/2019.
DDSB Libraries, Innovative Education Facilitator Richard Reid wants students to recognize the value of literacy, the value and importance of reading and the diverse array of material available in the program.
“Kids are reading everything from comic books to non-fiction books that will spark their wonder and curiosity,” says Reid. “There’s a wealth of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy in the books selected as well, so kids will see their voice represented in the material.”
Success in literacy
Kevin Sylvester, author of The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem and winner of the 2019 Durham Silver Birch Award in Fiction loves the annual event. “The thing that blows me away is the numbers — the amount of kids who are interested in a reading event,” says Sylvester. “It isn’t about celebrating ‘straight As’ or excellence in school, it’s about celebrating reading a book you liked. It’s about participating in an activity where you get to read for fun, debate the books and then pick your favourites.”
While Durham celebrated with their winners, 50,000 other students from across the province were celebrating at the same time. Winning authors then attended the culminating event in Toronto where they awaited the results of the province-wide vote. But as Sylvester notes, “It’s not about winning, it’s about reading.”
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