Like most communities that have a lot of readers, Calgary (and our Rocky Mountain neighbor, Banff) has a writers’ festival, WordFest. KevinfromCanada has been involved with the festival almost from its start sixteen years ago — I served on the board for a number of years, including a stint as chair, and have been a “reader” for the past few years (they loan me advance copies of a number of books I would not otherwise see). So when this blog celebrated its second anniversary some months back, Mrs. KfC decided an appropriate recognition of the anniversary would be ponying up the funds to sponsor a worthy WordFest project — and she chose Read, Write, Review!, five events aimed at serving the reading interests of high school students.
Here’s the challenge that Read, Write, Review! addresses. As with most writers’ festivals, WordFest offers a buffet of events for adult readers — eight Giller longlisted authors will be appearing at this October’s festival. (Clicking on the logo at the top of my sidebar will take you to their website — it is a great program.) And, from the start, the First Calgary Financial Book Rapport section (link is here if you want to see what an outstanding student program looks like) of WordFest has offered programs for younger students. If you ever want to see an amazing event, sign up to watch how children’s writers can keep a theatre full of eight and nine year olds enthralled with a dramatic version of their printed work. I hate to say it, but the performance is even better than the books.
But as those youngsters enter high school (and also become the highly-desirable Young Adult demographic), keeping them involved with reading becomes a challenge. Dale Wallace of Calgary’s Lord Beaverbrook High School has figured out how to meet that challenge and KfC is delighted to be a partner in his Read, Write, Review! project.
Lord Beaverbrook has an auditorium and this year five writers will be traveling to the school to showcase their work. Here are images of the covers of their books (and a link to Pages of Kensington, the official bookseller of WordFest, which has copies of all five available if you are interested):
I would say that is a very impressive list — in addition to some “normal” YA novels, there is a volume of poetry (Davis) and an autobiography (Henry) from Saint Lucia’s first-ever NCAA Division one basketballer (WordFest is still working on the possibility of adding a b-ball clinic to his appearance at Beaverbrook).
That isn’t all however. As part of Dale’s program and KfC’s involvement, his students will be doing interviews with each of the five authors and I will be posting them here — one a week, starting in late October or early November. So please stay with us and check back in a few weeks for more information on these interesting books. (You might even find a hint or two for holiday gift purchases for those ever-so-difficult teenage friends.)
And, if I have sparked your interest, there is even more — this Dale Wallace is something else, let me assure you. Lord Beaverbrook has its own publishing house, Tiberious Publishing, named after the school mascot (yes, the name is misspelled — there is a UK house called Tiberius Publishing, so Dale threw the extra “o” in so he could register the name). If you follow the link, you’ll find the volumes, written by Beaverbrook students, that they have published — and are more than willing to sell you. For visitors here with teenage offspring (or interests) I would point in particular to Living In Reality, a young person’s view of teenage depression (which has also been turned into a play and a student-produced movie — Dale is a trained psychiatric nurse, in addition to being a teacher). And I would also flag for your attention Beauty and The Beast, which has the intriguing sub-title of “Ending the love/hate relationship between girls and their bodies”. Lots of authors write books aimed at young people — Tiberious is different in that the young people are the authors as well as the audience.
I am sure that many regular visitors here are as concerned as I am with the need to introduce young people to both reading and writing (J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are just fine, but let’s hope those readers move beyond that as they mature). I am delighted that Mrs. KfC came up with this wonderful way of celebrating this blog — I hope you will join me in recognizing this initiative. Do stay tuned for the students’ interviews with these five interesting writers.
I have posted a link to the WordFest website on my sidebar so you can check out what is happening at this festival. And I will soon be including a link to this post if you have friends whom you would like to acquaint with this amazing initiative — if you know someone in your community who might want to start a version there, Dale is a very co-operative fellow who would be happy to offer advice.