More than 800 students from across Chatham-Kent were able to meet local authors, learn some coding, check out engineering clubs and robots, browse through tons of books, listen to stories and watch Indigenous dancers, all for free Oct. 23.
Book Bash, an event organized by the Chatham-Kent Public Library and its community partners, entertained students during the day at the John D. Bradley Centre in Chatham, and invited the public in the evening to check out all the booths and events.
Book Bash Canadian Children’s Literature Festival is a fun-filled, free children’s festival featuring a variety of activities and programs with Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and entertainers. Funding for the Festival, up to $20,000, is made possible through the Muller Scholastic Endowment Fund for Canadian Children’s Literature at the Toronto Public Library Foundation. The Fund was established by Larry Muller, retired president of Scholastic Canada, to create an annual children’s literature festival promoting reading and recognizing the value of Canadian children’s literature to Canadian families. The Festival is held by Toronto Public Library every second year and by a Canadian public library system outside of Toronto every other year.
This year, CKPL applied and received the festival funding to host the event, and CKPL Librarian Tanya Sharpe couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.
“Our very dynamic children’s librarian Stephanie Yeoman applied for it a year and a half ago. We all worked on the application and submitted it, and it was accepted,” Sharpe said.
Thanks to community partners, Sharpe said the booths at Book Bash were interactive and interesting for kids, showcasing the different kinds of programs offered at libraries across the municipality.
“Libraries are a place that are more than just books. They are a place to discover, so you want the Book Bash to reflect what the library can offer. We say we can’t offer everything for everyone but we definitely have something for everyone, and this encompasses a lot of our community partners, so we’re helping to spread their information and services, which helps our aim as well, so it’s a win-win for all of us,” Sharpe said.
She added the 800-plus students who attended Book Bash enjoyed keynote speaker Kathy Kacer, an award-winning author of more than 20 books that focus on the Second World War and the Holocaust.
“I have pictures of the whole room filled with children and they were enraptured; they were hanging on her words. She does a lot of work on World War Two and Holocaust survivors so she talked a lot about the courage that’s needed and why people survive, and sometimes it’s luck or it’s the courage of other people. The kids were so engaged,” Sharpe noted.
With partners such as Ontario Parks, C-K Parks and Recreation, the Ontario Genealogical Society, Kiwanis Reading Buddies, Bkejwanong First Nation (Walpole Island), CK Cyber Pack, Chatham-Kent 4H Lego Engineering Club, C-K Public Health Unit, St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs and area French and English school boards, the venue was filled with fun and engaging activities for kids.
“It’s just perfect that Book Bash is within Ontario Public Library Week, so we’re fostering a love of reading, a love of public libraries, a love of authors, illustrators; anything to do with the concept of reading and discovery,” added Sharpe.
Authors at the event included Yejide Kilanko, originally from Nigeria who now lives in Chatham-Kent and works as a social worker for Children’s Mental Health. She showcased her first children’s book, “There is an Elephant in my Wardrobe,” which was published in Nigeria. The book is about a little girl who suffers from anxiety.
She also writes adult novels.
Teenage author and high school student Emma Kathleen Vandermeer was part of the authors’ showcase, with her first published book, “Societies’ Cries.”
Vandermeer is 16 years old and a student at CKSS.
Entertainment in the form of cultural drumming and dancing was provided by the Great Lakes Woodland Dance Troupe from Bkejwanong First Nation, and music from the Thames River String Band.