Forest of Reading

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Forest of Reading
Genre Literary Arts
Frequency Annual
Location(s) Toronto Ontario, Canada
Years active 23
Official Website

The Forest of Reading is Canada's largest recreational reading program, made up of eight programs and run by the Ontario Library Association (OLA).[1] The programs are geared towards readers in kindergarten to grade twelve, with several programs targeting adult readers, ESL learners and French speakers. The Forest is unique in that it is the readers themselves who choose the winners of each category by voting for their favourite books. Every year, the Forest of Reading programs culminate in an action packed event run in Toronto, called the Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees is Canada's largest annual literary event for children,[2] attracting over 10,000 youth every year.[3] The winners of each program, as chosen by the young readers, are announced at the Festival of Trees events, and many authors and illustrators are in attendance, delivering hands on workshops and mingling with their young fans. In 2012, the Festival began touring and now has events in places around Ontario reaching thousands more young readers.

Program background[edit]

The main objective of the Forest of Reading program is to encourage a love of reading in people of all ages, as well as to introduce students and library patrons to the high quality Canadian books available on the market today.[4]


In the early 1990s, the OLA conducted a small survey about recreational reading programs being offered by school libraries and concluded that more needed to be done to encourage reading for pleasure in school-aged children. Inspired by the huge success of the Texas Bluebonnet Awards (a reading program based out of Texas), OLA representatives decided to adapt the program for Ontario and re-stimulate school library interest in reading through the promotion of reading simply for pleasure. They were also hopeful that such a program would increase awareness for Canadian books and authors.[5]

The first Forest of Reading Awards program, the Silver Birch Awards program, was up and running by 1994. It targeted children in grades 4–6 and focused on fiction and non-fiction books. As the program gained traction, the Silver Birch Award started to attract the attention of principals and teachers who encouraged its adoption in ever-widening circles, providing teacher-librarians with much needed support. Five years later, a program for Grades 7–9 would be built in response to growing school demand(Red Maple Awards program). Today, the Forest of Reading has expanded to include eight reading programs and is the largest in the country.[5]

Award programs[edit]

The Forest of Reading consists of eight reading programs:

  • Blue Spruce Award (the best picture books for children in kindergarten–grade 2, ages 4–7)
  • Silver Birch Awards (the best fiction and non-fiction books for children in grades 3–6, ages 8–12)
  • Silver Birch Express Award (the best fiction and non-fiction books for children in grades 3–4, ages 8–10. Also great for ESL students, reluctant readers and special needs students in grades 3-6)
  • Red Maple Award (the best fiction books for youth in grades 7–8, ages 12–14)
  • White Pine Awards (the best fiction and non-fiction books for high school–aged teens)
  • Le Prix Tamarac Awards (the best French fiction and non-fiction books [from 100 to 250 pages].)
  • Le Prix Peuplier (the best Short French chapter books [maximum 100 pages] or mature picture books.)
  • Golden Oak Award (fiction and non-fiction for adults learning to read and adult ESL students)
  • Evergreen Award (fiction and non-fiction for adults of any age)[6]

Festivals and Ceremonies[edit]

The school-aged programs have one large award ceremony in the spring called the Festival of Trees, at the Harbourfront Centre, Toronto. The festival is spread out over three days and includes workshops, author signings, and the awards ceremonies themselves.[7] The Festival of Trees makes for an amazing field trip for students of all ages. Additional satellite festivals and celebrations occur in other cities throughout Ontario around this time. The Golden Oak Award is given during the Toronto Public Libraries Literacy Conference in June. Adult learners join together for a luncheon and the nominees of the Award are invited to share in this celebration. The Evergreen Award winner is announced in November and the award is presented during the OLA's Super Conference in Toronto in the winter.


External links[edit]