Every year in Ontario, thousands of students read, vote and celebrate books and authors in an engaging and often entertaining way. The end is a celebratory festival called The Festival of Trees. The Ontario Library Association chooses books for different age groups and interests in English and French from a selection of Canadian literature for students to enjoy. More about this selection process and the different categories can be found at The Forest of Reading website.
The most exciting aspect of the entire program is the Festival of Trees. This event has grown to include multiple events in multiple cities across Ontario. This year, I was fortunate enough to once again attend the White Pine Awards Ceremony in Toronto on May 17, 2016. This event in particular is one of my absolute favourites because of the amazing energy and excitement that is felt both during the ceremony and the venue. Literally, every single participant is a part of the event in some way. It is truly an unforgettable experience to witness so many kids and adults alike enthusiastically celebrating reading!
The nominees for the 2016 White Pine Award (YA) are as follows:
- All The Rage by Courtney Summers
- The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston
- The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts
- Delusion Road by Don Aker
- The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson
- Rabbit Ears by Maggie De Vries
- A Sense of The Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
- Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold
- The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston
- The Troop by Nick Cutter
The ceremony kicks off with some hip hop dancing lead by an enthusiastic team of women. Let me tell you, it was so invigorating and really makes the audience feel connected to what is happening on stage.
Next, the student presenters, sign carriers and authors arrive on stage. Before the discussion of books, authors and winners takes place however, the guest speaker and MC kicks things off. This year, a very inspirational and motivating woman named Talli Osborne was the MC and she spoke about her life growing up and her experiences as a young reader.
After that, students presented each nominated author and really got the crowd pumped for the reveal of the winner. The authors in attendance also gave a short speech before the winner was revealed.
Jeyn Roberts won this year’s White Pine Award for her dystopian novel, The Bodies We Wear, and she gave quite an emotional acceptance speech. It is always so wonderful to see the reactions of the winners and the supportive nature of all the authors in attendance.
Some of the other fun and interactive activities at the Festival of Trees include author signings, games, workshops, crafts and much more! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet E.K. Johnston and have my autograph pamphlet signed.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of the Festival of Trees events, I highly recommend it! It is one of the most uplifting and all round bookishly fun event of the year.
Have you ever attend a book festival before?