Okay, so it isn’t really the sound of kids reading. It’s the sound of 1200 kids celebrating a love of reading, and it was captured by Rebecca Upjohn, one of the nine authors who attended Thunder Bay’s first Silver Birch Awards gala (“Silver Birch” being a category in the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program).
It wasn’t just in Thunder Bay that I met (and heard) kids who love to read. My touring schedule in April and May took me from Victoria to Yellowknife to Inuvik to Nanaimo to Toronto to Thunder Bay and back to Victoria, with quick trips home in between. The tour followed the usual pattern: readings in schools and libraries, presentations at festivals, autographing sessions at every possible opportunity. On a Sunday afternoon in Yellowknife, kids and their parents joined me at the Prince of Wales Museum to hear my presentation of Ghosts of the Titanic, an event that happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. In Nanaimo, BC, they turned out on a Saturday to attend readings at the 26th annual Vancouver Island Children’s BookFest. In Uxbridge, Ontario, close to 1000 kids lunched on lasagna and cookies while chatting with Silver Birch nominees. Young readers waited in long lines at Toronto’s Harbour Centre to have their books or “passports” autographed. 8000 kids! 1700 for the Silver Birch Fiction category alone!
My novel Ghosts of the Titanic was one of 10 titles nominated in the Silver Birch Fiction category. It didn’t win (The Undergrounders by David Skuy had that honour) but it did become an Honour Book, along with Kevin Sylvester’s Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction.) The best award (and I’m sure most authors agree) is in knowing that our books are out there being read.
A T-shirt I brought home from the Inuvik Centennial Public Library says, “It’s cool to read in the Arctic.” I think it’s cool to read anywhere. And it’s especially cool that thousands of kids feel the same.