TIFA colour divider

Adventure awaits! The 42nd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors, coming up on October 21 to 31, 2021, will present even more free, virtual events for young people than ever before. To help young readers, educators and families navigate the expanded TIFA Kids programme, we recruited middle-grade teacher Jeff Skrypek to point out some highlights. But don’t worry, this isn’t homework, it’s fun!

My name is Jeff, and I’m a Grade 5 teacher in Mississauga, Ontario. As a life-long reader, books have always played an important role in my life; and as a teacher, I believe that a good book can change a student’s life. The following TIFA Kids events stood out to me for having an amazing and diverse range of authors and artists with such important stories to tell. Some may be familiar names, others may be new to you, but all are exceptional talents. Here are my Top 10 TIFA Kids picks, which I hope you will check out!

Welcome to the Cypher book cover10. Catch the Hip-hop Bug: Khodi Dill

Friday, October 22 at 2pm ET

As a former music teacher, hip-hop and rap have always inspired me in the classroom. The poetry and flow of hip-hop can be applied to any subject in school. That is what makes me so excited for Khodi Dill’s book, Welcome to the Cypher. Khodi’s book is a “vibrant, rhythmic, musical introduction to rap, beat-boxing and spoken word poetry for the youngest of children.” I am extremely excited to hear him read from his debut picture book and experience the power of hip-hop through reading.

Fay and Fluffy headshots9. Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime

Sunday, October 24 at 11am ET

One of the events I am most looking forward to is Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime. This is a Drag Storytime for Kids. Fay and Fluffy are renowned drag queens, and they describe their storytime as suitable for the very young, and the very young at heart, and I truly believe that everyone will enjoy this fabulous, unique and highly entertaining storytime.

Thunder and the Noise Storm book cover8. When the World is Too Loud with Jeffrey & Shezza Ansloos

Monday, October 25 at 1pm ET

Thunder and Noise Storms is a special book to me, as it helps explain coping strategies for children who are dealing with “sensory overload.” Coming back to normal routine while still coping with a pandemic has been very difficult on children, and this “story of intergenerational knowledge and mindfulness that integrates neurodiversity with Indigenous worldview” is a very important book for right now.

A drawing of a blue monster with a child's hands holding the page7. Illustrating for Children – An Artist’s Experience

Tuesday, October 26 at 1pm ET

In an event for the more mature crowd, illustrators Natasha Donovan, Eric Fan, Terry Fan and Miki Sato – all finalists for the 2021 Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Book Awards – share how the artwork in children’s books is used to unpack complex narratives for young audiences. As a fan of the creative process, I’m really looking forward to hearing these illustrators’ perspectives on the way picture books are shaped and formed. This talk is most suitable for adults.

Malaika's Costume book cover6. Malaika’s Costume with Nadia L. Hohn & Irene Luxbacher

Thursday, October 28 at 1:30pm ET

For parents of younger children, the Malaika’s Costume event is one that will awe and inspire. In their book, author Nadia Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher take us through an amazing tale of Carnival, followed by a design-your-own Carnival costume activity and a dance party! Children aged 4 and up would particularly enjoy this event.

I'm Sorry book cover5. Sorry is the Hardest Word of All with Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Friday, October 29 at 1pm ET

Looking for an interactive event for children and adults? Look no further. In I’m Sorry, Flamingo is upset. Very upset. Potato is sorry. Very sorry. In fact, he is the sorriest. But how does he tell Flamingo? In an excellent book about mending relationships, Debbie Ridpath Ohi also takes viewers on a creative draw-along. Share your own artwork afterwards using the hashtag #TIFAKids. This talk will be an interactive drawing experience, and I can’t wait!

The Power of Style book cover4. The Power of Style with Christian Allaire

Saturday, October 30 at 11:30am ET

Christian Allaire, an Ojibwe writer, is passionate about fashion. He writes about how the power of style is not just the clothes on our backs – it is self-expression, representation and transformation. His powerful book The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures talks about the intersection of social justice and fashion. I am truly excited to hear Christian talk about his passion for fashion and how he addresses injustice and oppression using clothing. This talk is suitable for all, but would be enjoyed most by those 12+.

Frankly in Love book cover3. Love in the Afteryoon: David Yoon & Nicola Yoon

Saturday, October 30 at 4pm ET

This powerhouse event features David Yoon and Nicola Yoon. Nicola is the author of The Sun is Also a Star and will be talking about her new novel Instructions for Dancing, and David will be discussing his novel Frankly in Love, which is ALSO being made into a movie. Stop by this event for a rare look at a writing super-couple. This event would be enjoyed most by pre-teens, adults and teens. I also can’t wait for the movie Frankly in Love!

Walking in Two Worlds book cover2. Finding Their Way in New Universes: Wab Kinew & Kenneth Oppel

Sunday, October 31 at 12pm ET

One of my first truly magical reading experiences was reading Silverwing and Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel. As a result, I’m really looking forward to hearing him speak on his new book, Thrive, the final in an alien invasion trilogy. However, I am just as eager to hear about Wab Kinew’s Walking in Two Worlds. As a massive fan of Ready Player One, I personally love stories about immersive worlds and video games. This event is a must-watch!

Josephine Against the Sea book cover1. It’s a Mermaid – But Not As We Know It! With Shakirah Bourne

Sunday, October 31 at 4pm ET

One of the books I’m most excited about this festival is Josephine Against the Sea, by Shakirah Bourne. This tale, inspired by Caribbean legend, tells the story of Josephine, who suspects something is a bit off when it comes to her dad’s new love interest. Shakirah has also promised to talk about the Caribbean myths that inspired the book! This talk would be best for those 8 and up.

But wait, there’s more! To view the full 2021 TIFA Kids lineup, click here.

Jeff Skrypek headshotJeff Skrypek is a life-long book reader and current Grade 5 teacher with the Peel District School Board at Forest Avenue Public School. Jeff’s educational focus is anti-racist teaching, with an emphasis on social justice education.

TIFA Kids is back at the Toronto International Festival of Authors! This year’s programme is bigger, better and includes adventures for the whole family to enjoy. From October 21 to 31, join us for a daily dose of new adventure, including riveting readings, colourful draw-alongs, quizzical Q&As and more!

With so many events to choose from, this handy guide will help you navigate the programme by age group, to make the most of your TIFA Kids experience and find adventure suited to each family member’s reading levels. From sorry potatoes to frightening monsters, delve into 11 days of adventure, with these ten can’t-miss kids events:

Ages 3 and up:

I'm Sorry book coverSorry is the Hardest Word of All with Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Friday, October 29 at 1pm ET

Flamingo is upset. Very upset. Potato is sorry. Very sorry. In fact, he is the sorriest. But how does he tell Flamingo? Join Debbie Ridpath Ohi to learn how Flamingo and Potato mend their friendship in a fun draw-along, and then share your artwork with us online, using the hashtag #TIFAKids!

Ages 4 and up:

Malaika's Costume book coverMalaika’s Costume with Nadia L. Hohn & Irene Luxbacher

Thursday, October 28 at 1:30pm ET

Will Malaika have a costume in time for Carnival? Join author Nadia L. Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher to learn more about Malaika’s adventures and the celebration of Carnival. Follow along and design your own Carnival costumes, then get ready to join grade one students from across Canada for a colourful dance party that celebrates family, community and the Caribbean diaspora!

Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell book coverHalloween with Scaredy Squirrel & Mélanie Watt

Sunday, October 31 at 2pm ET

Celebrate Halloween with Scaredy Squirrel’s safety guide for scaredys, from everyone’s favourite worrywart. Mélanie Watt, creator of Scaredy Squirrel, will help you survive the spooks by giving you the scoop on Scaredy’s ideas, strategies and plans for Halloween. Don’t forget to grab your pencils to do some planning of your own!

Ages 5 and up:

Pizazz Vs. The New Kid book coverThe World of Upside Down, Inside Out Superheroes with Sophy Henn

Saturday, October 23 at 11:30am ET

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a superhero? Join award-winning picture book author and illustrator Sophy Henn to hear all about superkid Pizazz, her rivalry with the new superkid in town, and their mission to save the world…together. Then get your paper and pencil ready for a very super draw-along! Mask and cape optional.

Ages 6 and up:

Thunder and the Noise Storm book coverWhen the World is Too Loud – with Jeffrey & Shezza Ansloos

Monday, October 25 at 1pm ET

When the world gets too loud and chaotic, a young boy’s Mosom (grandfather) helps him listen with wonder, in Thunder and the Noise Storms by Jeffrey Ansloos and Shezza Ansloos, illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley. Join all three to hear how this picture book blends neurodiversity with Indigenous worldview to offer strategies to manage sensory overload, then see how Joshua created the book’s stunning illustrations.

Ages 8 and up:

Miles Morales: Shock Waves book coverTingling Spidey Sense Tales with Miles Morales: Shockwaves with Justin A. Reynolds & Pablo Leon

Saturday, October 30 at 3pm ET

Calling all Marvel readers and enthusiasts: Spider-Man is making an appearance at this year’s Festival! Get ready to swing into the action with Miles Morales, an average Brooklyn school kid by day and a web-shooting superhero by night. Join bestselling author Justin A. Reynolds and award-nominated artist Pablo Leon as they reveal their latest comic book creation, Miles Morales: Shockwaves, and explore how stories are being created for a new generation of Marvel readers.

Ages 10 and up:

Kaleidoscope book coverKaleidoscope with Brian Selznick

Saturday, October 30 at 1pm ET

TIFA Kids is super hyped to welcome genre-defying storyteller Brian Selznick to present his latest novel, Kaleidoscope. Joined by award-winning young-adult author David Levithan, together they’ll discuss how Kaleidoscope plays with words, pictures, concepts of storytelling, time and identity. Plus there is a live audience Q&A!

Ages 11 and up:

Friends Forever book coverFriends Forever with Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham

Sunday, October 24 at 1:30pm ET

Real life best friends Shannon and LeUyen are here to give you insights on their creative process, make you laugh and remind you that you are enough! Presenting their latest graphic novel, Friends Forever (based on Shannon’s own experiences of school) sees young Shannon become an eighth grader while struggling with her emotions, insecurities and undiagnosed anxieties, like so many children and teens.

Ages 12 and up:

Hunting By Stars book coverThe Monsters Amongst Us with Cherie Dimaline & Patrick Ness

Sunday, October 31 at 4pm ET

Dragons, dystopian worlds and a live Q&A? Cherie Dimaline and Patrick Ness have quite the afternoon planned for you, and will make you question everything you think you know about frightening monsters. Tune in as the authors challenge your self-awareness and present their highly anticipated new, young-adult novels, Cherie Dimaline’s Hunting by Stars and Patrick Ness’s Burn

All Ages:

Fay and Fluffy headshotsFay & Fluffy’s Storytime – Halloween Special

Sunday, October 31 at 11am ET

Tune in for some family fun with fabulous frocks and tremendous tales with fan favourites Fay & Fluffy! Join Fay and Fluffy as they blow the cobwebs off the best spooky stories and songs and provide a feast of ghouls and giggles. It’s their favourite time of year, and you won’t want to miss this party. 

TIFA Kids is proud to present 30+ free virtual events that explore stories of love, quests, friendship and family. Browse the full TIFA Kids event lineup here, and join in on all the fun!