As I write this, I am two days into the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week Tour and counting my many blessings. As one of 29 fortunate authors, illustrators, and storytellers in the English-speaking stream who are crisscrossing Canada during this event, I am visiting schools and libraries in southern Ontario. I follow a hectic pace and use a variety of transportation modes – driving myself in my trusty rental car (thank you GPS), catching rides with generous benefactors, flagging cabs, and flying to more distant spots on my route.
In the end, I will see almost 1700 students during 22 sessions being delivered at 12 separate locations in cities and towns like Goderich, Wiarton, Mount Forest, Kitchener, Toronto and Ottawa. At each turn, I spread the word to enthusiastic students – reading is a celebration, writing is fun, and non-fiction rules (sorry fiction writers, but someone has to stand up for my genre).
Among my many blessings on this tour, The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) tops the list. The CCBC orchestrates this annual event. By any standard the tour is an awesome feat of synchronization thanks to a number of key CCBC people, but especially Book Week Program Coordinator, Shannon Barnes Howe. She is the wizard behind the magic, and Shannon has been pulling rabbits out a hat for the past year to make it all happen.
But CCBC is more than the Canadian Children’s Book Week Tour. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1976. Unlike organizations such as the Writers’ Union and the Manitoba Writer’s Guild which offer exclusive support to writers, the CCBC has a wider reach. The CCBC encourages, promotes and supports the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. Because it connects those that produce and publish children’s books with the people who purchase and read them, it is as much a friend to writers, illustrators and publishers as it is to teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents.
In addition to The Canadian Children’s Book Week Tour, the CCBC offers a range of other supports for writer-members:
- Publications like Get Published: The Writing for Children Kit that offer practical advice about writing and publishing
- An online directory of authors, illustrators and storytellers that profiles individuals and their availability for school and library visits
- Online resources such as links to blogs, workshops, bookstores, publishers, and grant or funding opportunities
- Current listings of Canadian book publishers who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts and/or artwork
- A program which recognizes the achievements of Canadian authors and illustrators through five book awards, among them the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Normal Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction.
- Best Books for Kids, a semi-annual guide to the best new Canadian children’s books, magazines, audio and video
- Canadian Children’s Booknews, a quarterly magazine, packed with advice columns, profiles about authors and illustrators, industry news, and reviews of latest book releases.
To give you a taste of the offerings in Booknews, the Spring 2014 edition ran the theme Read to Remember and in addition to 35 reviews of new books included the following articles:
Remembering Not to Forget by Linda Cranfield, award winning author of In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem.
Writers, Editors, Blueberries, Raspberries: Three authors who edit explain how they manage two roles by Sylvia McNicoll, also an award winning author
World War I – a round-up of 23 new and classic fiction and non-fiction works on the theme
Finding the Humanity, Telling the Story: Sharon Mckay’s Fiction Explores War by Gillian O’Reilly, Booknews editor
For me, Best Books and Booknews have been most valuable. They provide me with information about current trends in the publishing industry and the ways books are being used. By reading reviews of other authors’ works, I have a sense of what topics are hot, what formats work well, and what publishers are seeking. I leave their pages inspired, brimming with ideas and ready to take on the challenge of crafting something worthy enough to make a future edition of CCBC’s Best Books.
Membership to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre is a modest $60 for individuals, $30 for Seniors (65+), and $30 for students. For more information, please check out CCBC’s website http://www.bookcentre.ca/