With the 43rd edition of the Toronto International Festival of Authors around the corner, it’s time to spotlight all the fun (and mostly free!) TIFA Kids events taking place September 22 to October 2. Authors and illustrators from Canada and around the world will be joining us to explore identity, history and culture, environment, science and imagination through books.
From crafts to conversations, and storytimes to workshops, these 11-days are packed full of dynamic and engaging events for the whole family. Check out just some of the 30+ TIFA Kids events happening below.
Drop in at the TIFA Kids tent any day of the Festival for endless fun at Storydrop! Presented in partnership with the Children’s Book Bank, Storydrop offers fun, hands-on activities for ages 4 and up. Dress up as your favourite character and bring a book to life at the Book Jacket Photobooth; contribute to the creation of the Great Collage Creature, a large crowd-created art piece to be displayed at the Children’s Book Bank; cozy up for an afternoon of reading in the book nook, where you’ll find books by featured authors and illustrators at the Festival. Plus, each weekend of the Festival from 2–4pm, there will be the chance to join in with an illustrator from the programme to create a giant piece of artwork.
Located on the west lawn at Harbourfront Centre, this space is part of the free, outdoor events at #FestofAuthors22.
Authors & illustrators in person
Hear authors and illustrators talk about their latest books in person each day of the Festival. Don’t miss Rochelle Strauss and Natasha Donovan talking about the ocean or Joyce Grant exploring the importance of teaching kids to navigate the internet with a critical eye. As well, Michael Hutchinson, Nancy Vo, Kenneth Oppel and Sachiko Kashiwaba are just some of the authors joining us for conversations, Q&A and readings. Browse more events here.
The Happiness Collectors
The world’s supply of happiness is running low and The Happiness Collectors need your help! Pop on your headphones and join SAM (Special Agent M) on a journey of sounds and silliness to learn the best ways to collect happiness – and most important of all, how to pass it on! SAM will take your around the world to visit the jungle, the Antarctic, New York City, a beach, an Olympic stadium and the circus.
The Happiness Collectors is friendly for all neurodiverse people and families with children aged 5+. Each audience member will be given a set of wireless headphones to wear for the duration of the performance.
Registration is needed to attend. Book your tickets here. See Additional Performance Dates to select a time.
Located in the South Lawn Tent, this event is part of the free, outdoor events at #FestofAuthors22.
It wouldn’t be a book festival without some of the best storytellers reading books to you! Join your favourite authors reading their own books or even their favourite books. Author and illustrator Kevin Sylvester discusses the latest book in his Hockey Super Six series, In The Game, as well as Apartment 713. Linda Bondestam will take you under the sea in My Life at the Bottom to learn about one of the world’s rarest sea creatures with the chance to do some drawings of your own. On September 25 and October 2, Fay and Fluffy will be on the Stage in the Park spreading their message of inclusivity, kindness and being proud of yourself – and show that reading is FUN-damental! There is much more to see at the festival so be sure to check out all the TIFA Kids event listings.
The Big Create & Make
The Big Create & Make is a drop-in session where you can linger for 10 minutes or 2 hours, and be part of making something big, beautiful and creative! Get in on the Festival fun and meet a published picture-book illustrator, while flexing your own creative muscles. Taking place September 24–25 and October 1–2, each day will feature a different illustrator:
Located in the Storydrop space (Tent B), this event is part of the free, outdoor events at #FestofAuthors22.
Calling all aspiring authors and artists! TIFA Kids is offering a variety of free writing and illustration workshops with some of the authors appearing at the festival. Ashley Spires will be talking about how she came up with her character, Binky the Space Cat, and you’ll even get to create your own comic! Ireland’s Laureate na nÓg, Áine Ní Ghlinn will take your storytelling to the next level by offering a range of writing prompts to populate your blank pages. Let your creativity flow!
Spectacular Translation Machine
Have you ever wondered how one language translates to another? Do you think we come up with the same words? Oui ou non? Join us in translating some of the picture book La Petite Créature by French illustrator and graphic artist, Marjolaine Leray. Pick the page and whatever language you like and our translators will help! What will the book look like by the end? It all depends on the words you choose …
A Tribute to Children’s Books
Children’s books are often the first contact we have with literature and art, and they make a powerful impression. Regardless of age and culture, we have used stories both as entertainment and in search of knowledge, to strengthen our ties with others – both those who are like us and those who are unlike us – and not least in order to understand our own existence. The Swedish Academy for Children’s Books seeks to enable children to have access to powerful and enriching reading experiences and has produced this exhibition as a tribute to children’s literature. Learn more here.
CCBC Book Awards
TIFA is proud to partner with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) to present the 2022 CCBC Book Awards, celebrating the best Canadian books for young people. The winners for the English-language awards will be announced in this broadcast of the much-anticipated event in the world of Canadian books for young people. You can view the event in person or virtually!
See the full list of #TIFAKids events here!
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 love—and it wouldn’t be a Toronto Pride without a guest appearance by the fabulous Fay Slift. This month, we asked Fay to cast her spotlight to a glittering parade of books that embody the magic of Pride for young readers.
A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary and Illustrated by Qin Leng
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all. For ages 4–7.
Be You! written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Be You! is an inspirational celebration of individuality and a joyful reminder of the ways that every child is unique and special. Here, Reynolds reminds readers to “be your own work of art.” To be patient, persistent and true. Because there is one, and only one, you. For ages 4–8.
Princess by Daniel Hack and Isabel Galupo, illustrated by Becca Human
In this modern fairy tale, a strong, brave maiden is invited to attend the prince’s royal ball, but at the dance, she ends up finding true love in a most surprising place.
This book was published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ+ inclusivity and acceptance. For ages 4–8.
M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC by Catherine Hernandez and illustrated by Marsia Firebaugh
It’s Pride Day, and this big loving chosen family is ready to celebrate! See what they do to make their Pride Day special and so much fun — one letter at a time.
Inspired by the author’s daughter’s journey down Yonge Street as the wee tyke on a bike at the Dyke March in Toronto, readers learn about the Pride Marches in celebration of LGBTQ+ families. For ages 4–8.
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino and Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Morris is a little boy who loves using his imagination. He dreams about having space adventures and loves his classroom’s dress-up center — he loves wearing the tangerine dress. But the children in Morris’s class don’t understand. Dresses, they say, are for girls.
With warm, dreamy illustrations, Isabelle Malenfant perfectly captures Morris’s vulnerability and the vibrancy of his imagination. This is a sweetly told story about the courage and creativity it takes to be different. For ages 4–7.
Neither by Airlie Anderson
In the Land of This and That, there are only two kinds: blue bunnies and yellow birds. But one day a funny green egg hatches, and a little creature that’s not quite a bird and not quite a bunny pops out. It’s neither!
This colorful, simple and touching story promotes diversity and offers a valuable lesson to the youngest of audiences: it is our differences that unite us. For ages 4–8.
Not Quite Narwhal written and illustrated by Jessie Sima
Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns.
Not Quire Narwhal is book about fitting in, standing out and the all-encompassing love of family. For ages 4 and up.
Our Rainbow by Little Bee Books
Told in simple, engaging text and paired with bright illustrations, this book (printed on thick paperboard) teaches the youngest of readers all about the colours of this rainbow and the simple acts of kindness that can brighten up our world. For ages 2–5.
Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries. Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along.
This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book is about finding the courage to be true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. For ages 4–8.
Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Jamey Christoph
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the Inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community–in and around the Stonewall Inn–began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States.
This true story allows young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement–a movement that continues to this very day. For ages 5–8.
About Fay Slift (JP Kane)
JP Kane is a Toronto-based performer, educator and storyteller. Spending his days teaching kindergarten and weekends cultivating community by creating safe and inclusive spaces for queer and gender variant kids and their families. His alter ego, Fay Slift, has been entertaining the masses for 13 years, captivating audiences at a vast array of festivals and cultural institutions. Her goal is to entertain and empower all kids, no matter their age, by celebrating the things that make each one of them unique and amazing. Fay is one half of the dynamic storytelling duo of Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime, who have been sharing their love of stories since 2016. In 2020, Fay Slift and Fluffy Soufflé were awarded the Ontario Library Association’s Presidential Award for Exceptional Achievement.