Among books I bought at an auction last year was this catalogue from the Canadian Libraries Association-- featuring an article on the first Young Canada's Book Week/ Le Semaine Du Livre pour la Jeunesse Canadienne.
We've come a long way since 1949...but thank you Viscountess Alexander of Tunis!
It's Canada's TD Children's Book Week and this year there will be over 116 free public readings during the week of May 5th-12th across Canada.
This means every day writers and illustrators have the chance to meet readers face to face, talk about the creative process, what goes on in the the making of a book, (who are we really- do we have dogs or cats or lizards or hobbies like parachuting and do we make a lot money and how old are we and on it goes.) The creators of books get to hear how a reader reacts to their work or feels about a character. We see the enthusiasm generated by our books and words BECAUSE hardworking teachers, librarians, parents, community members care enough to put "good" books in the hands of children. Books where they will see themselves reflected back and meet and greet otherness, too. A child in Nunavut reads a book about a child in Afghanistan. An inner city child contemplates coastal life he has yet to experience or sails an ocean she has yet to splash around in. A child with depression learns he is not alone. And somewhere someone is talking pure nonsense and getting everyone excited about word music. So I picture children flying this week too -- flying through the wide blue skies of their imagination, the pages of books their magic carpets — zooming across our country—from sea to sea to sea.
Yes, they clap for us, the creators. Yes, we sign our names. We eat lots of cake. We feel happy.We are useful. We work hard but most often, they have worked harder preparing for us and yes, it makes us want to do more and better.
For a look at what is happening across the country this year, check out the Bookweek website. And as for the past—for many writers, myself included, we cut our touring teeth during the days when the Canadian Children's Book Centre held Children's Book Week in November. Those weeks were busy and full and a way we got to travel beyond our own region and see the bigger country. But the weather.
My first trip north (89?) I was on eight planes in ten days. It was mostly dark all day and cold—very cold and I missed my own children. Still, I loved every second of it and kept pinching myself: was I really in the north at last? There was the night the pilot scraped off the windshield of the small twin engine plane with his credit card before we took off. We circled the airport and landed back down in the same airport. Tuktoyaktuk was snowed in. Had we made it there, I would have been storm stayed for a week. There's many stories to be told by Canadian children book authors and artists --and their hosts-- maybe there's a fund rasing anthology in the making one day.
May seems a better month for Children's Book Week for many reasons—weather being one—but also it's the time of year when everyone needs reminding reading can be as f-u-n as it is instructional. Or as in the essay above, "wholesome".
I'm shouting out to Yayo, who's on the road with his magical art work and I hope reading from—
A lot of people, for a lot of years, have cared about children and what they read. Where, would we EVER be without our libraries?
Just for fun—the table of contents. Sir Stanley might have to choose another title were he writing today. Or the topic suggested might mean something quite different. Some things change.