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NATASHA'S NOOK: Time to vote for Forest of Reading awards

Visitors to the Bradford library can cast their ballots Monday
Natasha Philpott, marketing and communications co-ordinator for the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, is shown with some of the books nominated for the Forest of Reading awards.

There are only a few days left to get your votes in for the 2023 Forest of Reading awards.

The Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program for people of all ages. It also helps celebrate and promote the work of Canadian authors, publishers, and illustrators. More than 270,000 readers take part in the program each year either at school or the library.

There are six nominee lists for school-aged readers to choose from. Click on each link to find the titles in our catalogue.

Blue Spruce: Kindergarten to Grade 2

Silver Birch Express: Grades 3 to 4

Silver Birch Fiction: Grades 3 to 6

Yellow Cedar: Grade 4 to 8 (nonfiction)

Red Maple: Grades 7 to 8

White Pine: Grades 9 to 12

On Monday, April 24, we will have a voting station set up inside the library for patrons to pop in and cast their ballots for their favourites.

There are a lot of great contenders this year. It will be hard to choose just one.

Some standouts for me include:

Be a Good Ancestor by Leona and Gabrielle Prince, illustrated by Carla Joseph (Blue Spruce nominee). Its cover is what grabbed my attention first: a beautiful, brightly coloured illustration of an Indigenous woman and her daughter sitting side by side in front of a mountainous landscape. The story encourages young readers to consider the world around them and how the decisions made today can affect and impact the world around us.

Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts by Joyce Grant, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte (Yellow Cedar nominee). The journalist in me says this is a must-read for young readers as they navigate the digital news world. The book teaches how to spot the difference between real journalism and “fake news,” using examples and explanations. With the rise of social media, it’s important to get kids to recognize and approach everything read online with a critical eye.

The Witness Blanket by Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson (Yellow Cedar nominee) tells the story of the making of the Witness Blanket, a work by Indigenous artist Carey Newman that includes items from every residential school in Canada and stories from the survivors who donated them.

Children of the Fox: Thieves of Shadow by Kevin Sands (Red Maple nominee): Five kids with unusual talents are brought together to commit an impossible crime. Lured by the promise of more money than they’ve ever dreamed of, five young criminals are hired to steal a heavily guarded treasure from the most powerful sorcerer in the city. There’s Callan, the con artist, Meriel, the expert at acrobatics (and knives), Gareth, the researcher, Lachlan, who can obtain anything, and Foxtail, whose mysterious eyeless mask doesn’t hinder her ability to climb walls like a spider. Though their shadowy backgrounds mean they’ve never trusted anyone but themselves, the five must learn to rely on each other to get the job done. But as Callan has been warned most of his life, it’s best to stay away from magic. It can turn on you at any moment, and make you think you’re the one running the con game when you’re the one being fooled. Faced with these insurmountable odds, can the new friends pull off this legendary heist, or has their luck finally run out?

Wrong Side of the Court by H.N. Khan (White Pine nominee) takes place in Toronto and follows 15-year-old Fawad Chaudhry who lives with his mother in a small apartment in Regent Park, trying to forget about the death of his father two years ago. While his mom has dreams for his future like arranging a marriage with his first cousin back home in Pakistan, Fawad has plans of his own like asking out a girl at school and making it to the NBA. All he must do is convince his mom to let him try out for the school basketball team and get the neighbourhood bully to leave him alone.

At the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library, we are advocates of early literacy, and the Forest of Reading program is a great way to get your children excited about reading.

Reading and writing are the foundations of success, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, growing, and sharing. There are so many reasons why encouraging children to read every day is important, but I will save that for a future column.

’Til next week, happy reading.

Natasha Philpott is the marketing and communications co-ordinator for the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library.