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Virtual-event listings for the Canadian kidlit community during the COVID-19 crisis

Michelle Kadarusman

Michelle Kadarusman

At a time of year when Canadian children’s authors would usually be gearing up for spring school visits and reading festivals, they are at home looking for ways to connect with their readers and talk about their books, both old and new. Q&Q is now keeping a running list of online events and readings by kidlit authors and illustrators. We can’t promise it will be complete, but we will highlight as many initiatives and DIY readings as we can. Members of the Canadian kidlit community, please feel free to reach out (sdeziel@quillandquire.com) and tell us about any virtual events we should add to the list.

Greystone Kids guided forest walk (May 27 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST): Join Peter Wohlleben, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Trees (as well as kids books Can You Hear the Trees Talking? and Peter and the Tree Children), for a guided walk in the forest and Q&A on Facebook Live. This event is aimed at kids but any tree lover is welcome.

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival Online Series For Kids: On Tuesday, May 26, 10:30 a.m. EST, author Laura Alary and illustrator Kass Reich will do an online reading and discussion of their book, What Grew in Larry’s Garden; on Tuesday June 9, 10:30 a.m. EST, Mahtab Narsimhan (You and Me Both), and Sherry J. Lee and illustrator Charlene Chua (Going Up!) will read from their books and lead an activity with a chance to win prizes.

Tender Honesty: Approaching Difficult Topics in Picture Books (May 21st, 3pm EST): WOTS presents the launch of Naseem Hrab and Frank Viva’s Weekend Dad, a clear-eyed look at the experience of divorce from a child’s perspective. Author and reviewer Nathan Whitlock will moderate a conversation between Hrab and Viva. Register here.

#ReadingApartTogether (ongoing): Children’s publisher Groundwood has launched a landing page with author readings, contests, and activities, including Barbara Landry and Martha Kyak reading Nattiq and the Land of Statues, with Inuktitut lessons. Deborah Hodge and Robert Heidbreder provide educational activity sheets to accompany West Coast Wild Babies and Our Corner Store. There’s also a reading of Fern and Horn by Marie-Louise Gay and an interactive #notetoatree activity for A Forest in the City by Andrea Curtis.

Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bibliovideo (ongoing): The CCBC has launched its YouTube video channel early, in order to offer students digital author visits at home for Canadian Children’s Book Week. Through the week of May 4–9, special videos from Book Week authors and illustrators will appear on the Bibliovideo channel, including Robin Stevenson, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Eugenie Fernandes, Shane Peacock, Paul Covello, and Monique Polak. More Book Week activities can be found here.

Updated: Ripple Foundation Writing Workshops  (Saturdays): Kids in Grades 4 to 8 are encouraged to join these online Zoom-based creative writing workshops on Saturday afternoons, set up by volunteer charity Ripple Foundation and hosted by Karabi Mitra. The sessions which run all summer, through to August 29, include themes like Plotline Play-by-Play, Brainstorm Bonanza, and Mixed Bag Mayhem – and are Toronto Public Library–certified and developed by Ontario teachers. Check here for schedule, activity sheets to register for events.

Poetry and porridge with Nadia Hohn (April 30): Teacher and kidlit author Nadia Hohn celebrates Poetry Month with this Facebook live event at 9 a.m. ET, in which she’ll read from her picture book A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice (Owlkids Books), while enjoying a traditional Jamaican porridge breakfast. Register here.

Live and interactive with L.E. Carmichael (April 30): Lindsey Carmichael will host a Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. ET to read her nature book The Boreal Forest (Kids Can Press). She’ll also talk about the writing process and have an interactive discussion about boreal forest animals. The recording will be available after the live event.

Bateman Gallery of Nature book launch (May 7): This Victoria, B.C. gallery will host a webinar for the launch of the middle-grade non-fiction book, Sea Otters: A Survival Story (Orca Book Publishers), which is written by Vancouver wildlife photographer Isabelle Groc and has a foreword by Dame Judi Dench and David Mills, the founder and owner of the British Wildlife Centre. Participants at the launch will hear the extraordinary tale of the sea otters’ return from near extinction. Guests can register here and tickets are $5.

Earth Day book launch (April 22): Vancouver’s Banyen Books & Sound will host a webinar launch for One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet on Earth Day (Orca Book Publishers) at 3:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. PST. The author, conservation biologist Anuradha Rao, will be joined by guest speakers on Zoom and attendees are invited to register online here.

Story Time with Kathy Stinson (ongoing): The Toronto author reads her picture books Red Is Best and The Dog Who Wanted to Fly – and gives a sneak peek of a new title – at a reading initially live-streamed for Northern Ontario Libraries.

Children’s storytime and craft with Rebecca North (ongoing): The Newfoundland author of Nanny’s Kitchen Party and Elliot and the Impossible Fish performs a reading and demonstrates a craft on Breakwater Books YouTube channel.

Teacher Diary (ongoing): Presented by kidlit website 49th Kids, the Teacher Diary blog features Ontario educators sharing insights into teaching online and homeschooling, and addressing a pressing concern: how can educators, parents, and students all cope during this overwhelming time, communicate more effectively, and support one another.

FOLD Kids Academy (ongoing): The Festival of Literary Diversity’s Kids Bookfest is holding weekly webinars on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Children can join authors and illustrators who are reading from and talking about their latest books as well as tackling a craft project. FOLD has made the experience, done through Zoom, very interactive. Upcoming April webinars feature authors Kyo Maclear and Matthew Forsythe.

I Value Canadian Stories – The Podcast (ongoing): voicED Radio’s new podcast series, hosted by Stephen Hurley, highlights the work, creative habits, and unique perspectives of 15 Canadian children and young-adult authors. Interviews with Eric Walters, Marty Chan, Anita Daher, and Natasha Deen are already available and new episodes arrive every day.

Haunted Canada Road Trip (ongoing): For 18 days, Ontario horror writer Joel A. Sutherland is sharing a daily scary ghost story set in Canadian locations from B.C. to Newfoundland – or, as he describes it, from coast to ghost.

Goodnight With Dolly (starting April 2): While she’s not Canadian, we’ll make an exception for Dolly Parton (whose Imagination Library project has a Canadian branch and features many of the country’s books and authors). The Nashville legend will begin reading bedtime stories every Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET – a book a week for 10 weeks – starting with The Little Engine That Could.

Kids Book Chats with the West Vancouver Library (ongoing): Youth librarians are hosting 45 minutes of connection and conversation, asking children to join the Zoom chat and bring their favourite book to show others onscreen (or draw the cover if you don’t have the book at home right now!) Check the library website for specific days for your age and school grade.

MG Lit Book Club (starting April 30): Canadian children’s librarian Kathie MacIsaac and teacher-author Colleen Nelson have started a middle-grade book club. Kids have a month to read the book and then MacIsaac will host a video meet-up between the author and all participants. First up is Kenneth Oppel for his new alien-plant-invasion thriller Bloom (April 30); next Michelle Kadarusman drops in to discuss her Tasmanian rainforest–set Music for Tigers (May 30); and Nelson will discuss her canine adventure, Harvey Comes Home, featuring the eponymous West Highland Terrier (June 24).

Kids Can Press’s “Spring Books Relay”  (March 31 to April 6): Twice each day, an author or illustrator with new books releasing during the COVID-19 crisis will read from their work or offer a drawing demo. Then they’ll “pass the baton” to another fellow author or illustrator. Participants include Darren LeBeuf, Lana Button, Charlene Chua, and Dave Whamond.

#7SillyPrompts (starting March 30): Tundra Books authors have created a 7-day challenge for kids to do at home. Each day, a silly prompt will be revealed by an author to spark creativity. Kids’ creations can then be sent in and will be displayed in collections on Instagram and Facebook. Authors giving prompts include Eric Walters, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, and Esme Shapiro.

Author readings: Pam Withers (Camp Wild), Susin Nielsen (No Fixed Address), David A. Robertson (The Barren Grounds)

Send in new event and reading listings to sdeziel@quillandquire.com