Reserve your Ticket to the Rock Concert of Reading

Anyone who reads this column knows that I love books and getting kids excited about them, especially Canadian books. That’s why this month is dedicated to the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program. 

This year, my son is participating for the very first time and his class will be voting on the Blue Spruce Award. He is not alone: more than 270,000 elementary and high-school students from kindergarten to grade 12 will vote on their favourite books this April. Lucky readers enrolled in the program will celebrate the winners in May at the “rock concert of reading” also known as the Festival of Trees

While there are eight official award categories, including a variety of fiction and non-fiction books in English and French, there is sadly not enough space to feature them all. 

Here is a highlight of 4 nominated titles to give you a flavour for the festivities:  

Blue Spruce Award (picture books) 

Grade Range: JK – 2  

For Ages: 4 – 7 

Sun Dog 
Written by Deborah Kerbel, Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo

This unique picture book takes place in the Article Circle. The story follows a brave sled dog puppy named Juno on an adventure in the Arctic tundra. The artwork is particularly striking featuring dimensional illustrations in polymer clay and acrylic wash.  

Silver Birch Award (fiction) 

Grade Range: 3 – 6  

For Ages: 8 – 12 

The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem 
Written by Kevin Sylvester, Illustrated by Britt Wilson 


Calling all Kevin Sylvester fans! This pick is perfect for middle-schoolers who enjoy adventures about kids with quirky superpowers. It kicks off with a comic strip and is sprinkled with zany art throughout. Mucus Mayhem is the first of four books in this multi-author series, so more fun to follow. 

Red Maple Award (non-fiction) 

Grade Range: 7 – 8  

For Ages: 12 – 13 

Innovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World…Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier  
Written by David Johnston and Tom Jenkins, Illustrated by Josh Holinaty 

This STEM resource is a staple for any library, and it happens to be co-authored by former Governor General David Johnston. It features 50 kid-friendly Canadian inventions that changed the world, including some discoveries that may surprise young readers. This title is the companion to the adult edition, Ingenious, and hopefully will inspire future innovation and entrepreneurship in our country! 

White Pine Award (fiction) 

Grade Range: 9 – 12  

For teenagers of all ages 

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You 
Written by Vicki Grant 

This chapter book is perfect for teens with an interest in psychology, as well as adults who love reading rom-coms and YA titles. This story was inspired by a real study asking “can love be engineered?” It follows two strangers, Paul and Hildy, who sign up for the experiment to answer 36 questions with one another. Do they fall in love? Read the novel to find out! 

Who is ready to rock this reading list? All nominated titles are included on the official site

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