Fay Slift’s Top 10 Pride Reads for Kids

Fay Slift. Image by David Hawe

Most of us grew up without ever encountering a queer children's book. Perhaps you were presented with a queer character that no one ever acknowledged as such, or the idea that certain stories were only for boys, and others only for girls. For some readers, these unwritten rules were to the detriment of their self-confidence and well-being.  

Today, Pride is our annual reminder to celebrate who we are and those we loveand it wouldn’t be a Toronto Pride without a guest appearance by the fabulous Fay SliftThis month, we asked Fay to cast her spotlight to a glittering parade of books that embody the magic of Pride for young readers. 

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Looking Back at the Forest of Reading Program with Author Wesley King


In 1994, the Ontario Library Association (OLA) founded the Forest of Reading programme as a way to promote literacy in Ontario and celebrate Canadian literature with the help of public and in-school librarians. Today, it’s Canada’s largest annual literary festival for young readers, and offers eight programmes – all named after trees – for kids and adults alike.

Every May, students are invited to vote for their favourite Canadian title. Winners are announced in multiple age groups during the Festival of Trees. With the programme’s 24th instalment fast approaching (May 15-18, 2018), we spoke with children’s author Wesley King, who not only won the Silver Birch Award for his book OCDaniel but also participated in the Forest of Reading programme when he was a child. We asked King what it was like to win an award for something so closely tied to his childhood:

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The IFOA’s Favourite Childhood Books

In preparation for the Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™, Canada’s biggest literary event for young readers, staff at the IFOA looked back at some of our favourite YA/children’s books. Some fond memories came up as we revisited a few of the first stories to ignite our passion for literature. Some of us had a hard time picking just one!

We’re excited to welcome so many students, teachers, and authors to Harbourfront Centre this week. For more information on the festival, visit our events page.

Tina Kessler, Event Coordinator

The Balloon Tree, written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

balloon tree gilman
“Between the fairy tale story and the beautiful illustrations, it’s a book I loved as a kid and can’t wait to share with my niece!”

Purple, Green and Yellow, written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Hélène Desputeaux

Purple, Green and Yellow

“‘Super-indelible-never-come-off-until-you’re-dead-or-maybe-even-later colouring markers!’ I still know that line by heart.”

Catherine Coreno, Communications and Marketing Assistant

Stephanie’s Ponytail, written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Stephanie's Ponytail

“This book cracked me up as a kid and I made my mom read it to me all the time. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Rebecca Hallquist, Executive Assistant

The Two Princesses of Bamarre, written by Gail Carson Levine

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

“I used to love this book so much I’ve re-read it to the point where even now I remember certain passages with such clarity. This book had everything: dragons, knights, a mysterious curse, magic, big fight scenes, romantic intrigue, and put a relationship between sisters at the centre of the narrative long before Frozen was even in production. And these spunky, quirky sisters are from the imagination of the same author who gave us Ella Enchanted so it’s not hard to see why this book was, and is, so fantastic.”

Julia Yu, Senior Event Coordinator

Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram

Guess How Much I Love You

“[I have a] vivid memory of my favourite grade school teach reading this to us during gym class… Reminds me of my mom and I.”

Something from Nothing, written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Something from Nothing

“Overall a great lesson for kids to learn. LOVED the secondary storyline of the little mouse using the little pieces of leftover fabric for himself.”

Risa de Rege, Communications and Marketing Intern

Black Maria, written by Diana Wynne Jones

Black Maria

“One of my favourite books when I was growing up was Black Maria by Diana Wynne Jones. Mig arrives with her family to a small British coastal town to stay with their elderly aunt, Maria, and things soon start to go wrong. A ghost haunts her bedroom, her brother is turned into a wolf, a man is buried alive, and Mig is left to save the town from the cold clutches of her aunt. It’s a wonderfully funny, dark story about family dynamics and a bit of magic.”