How is TD Book Week Organized? Interviews with the Coordinators, Part 2

Posted in: Uncategorised | 0

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is organized by a team of volunteer coordinators who work on scheduling presentations for each province and territory. They coordinate with the visiting authors, illustrators and storytellers, as well as the schools, libraries and other venues that will accommodate them, in the months ahead of Book Week. They also handle travel arrangements and book accommodations. We chatted with a few of the coordinators to give you a glimpse into what it’s like to organize Book Week. You can also read Part 1 of our Book Week Coordinator feature.

Laura Farina, Book Week Coordinator for British Columbia (Lower Mainland)

Laura FarinaTell us about your experience coordinating Book Week so far.

I started coordinating Book Week in late January of this year. Mahtab Narsimhan is visiting the Lower Mainland from Toronto and it is my job to choose the schools and libraries that she will present at, organize her transportation and accommodation, and make sure the schools and libraries have everything they need to make the most of her visit. A lot of my job involves sending and responding to emails and telephoning people to make sure everyone feels that they know what is happening and when.

Why did you decide to become a Book Week Coordinator?

I truly believe that engagement in the arts helps young people to make connections, think deeply and engage in the world around them. Students involved in the arts see possibility and use their voices and actions to participate in their communities. It means a great deal to me that I get to ensure that these experiences are accessible to young people in British Columbia.

How meaningful is it, for you, to be organizing Book Week for your particular province or territory?

I have a very distinct memory of the first time I met a published author.

I was selected by my school to participate in some literary event.The details are a bit hazy, but it definitely involved me reading a story I had written and also involved getting to meet, talk to, and write with writers I had actually read. It was a life-altering experience for me. In my non-Book Week life I am a professional writer, and when I think back to the moment that this seemed possible, it was at that event. These people in front of me were creating books — good ones — and they were interested in talking to me? Crazy! It made my tiny writerly dreams seem even a little bit possible and it changed the course of my life. The fact that maybe I get to make that happen for another young writer means a great deal. A great, great deal.

Danica Lorer, Book Week Coordinator for Saskatchewan (North)

DanicaLorerHow did you first get involved with Book Week?

I was one of the storytellers on the tour in 2014. It was an amazing experience. When an opening came up for a coordinator in my region the interim director of the CCBC asked if I knew anyone who would be a good fit. I offered my time and talents and have been the Saskatchewan – North Coordinator ever since then.

What are your favourite aspects of this job? Or the most gratifying parts?

I love introducing people to new work, it is a joy to spend time with the presenters and to see how the audiences react to them. I love taking the time to share our region with those who haven’t experienced the beauty and hospitality of Saskatchewan.

How meaningful is it, for you, to be organizing Book Week for your particular province or territory?

With the budget cuts to libraries and schools it is a great gift to be able to participate in Book Week. We know the value of books and stories and how important it is to share those values with young people.

Richard Chase, Book Week Coordinator for Alberta

What are some of the challenges of this job?

Since I do most of the contacts by email, patience is often required waiting for replies from schools and libraries. It is always a challenge to put together a series of schools and libraries that are interested in hosting an author/illustrator or storyteller.

What are your favourite aspects of this job? Or the most gratifying parts?

Being able to find a school or library that has never or seldom ever hosted an author or illustrator. Meeting authors/illustrators and storytellers from other parts of Canada. They are all very gracious and interesting individuals.

How meaningful is it, for you, to be organizing Book Week for your particular province or territory?

It is always very meaningful to support literacy by introducing authors or illustrators to teachers and students. Authors/illustrators are great promoters of literature.

Roseanne Gauthier, Book Week Coordinator for Prince Edward Island

RoseanneGauthierHow did you first get involved with Book Week?

I first got involved with Book Week when I started as Youth Services Librarian for the PEI Public Library Service in early 2015. Organizing PEI’s Book Week tour is actually part of the expectations for my job – one of the most fun expectations!

How do you juggle all the work involved in being a coordinator?

Coffee and chocolate. And a lot of lists! Once schools have submitted their applications for a Book Week visit, I usually sit down with a map and try to start grouping visits together according to PEI’s geography. From there I start trying to plan a schedule around how long it takes to drive between each location, taking into account each school’s recess, lunch and dismissal times. Once I have a draft itinerary in place, usually in February, I breathe a giant sigh of relief! Somehow that always feels like I’ve gotten the hardest part done, even though there are still tons of details to look after, plus the chaos (and fun) of Book Week itself!

What are some of the challenges of this job?

Every school has a different schedule! And I never want to turn any Book Week applicants down! So far, I’ve been able to squeeze everyone in, although this year was extra tricky. Caroll Simpson is very popular.

What are your favourite aspects of this job? Or the most gratifying parts?

I love figuring out the schedule. It’s like a big puzzle, and it’s so satisfying to see everything come together. I’m also the driver for PEI’s visiting author, and Book Week itself is one of my favourite parts of the year. I love being able to show off my beautiful province to our visiting authors and illustrators, and it’s always lots of fun to hear all kinds of interesting stories from them. The absolute best thing, though, is watching kids’ faces during presentations. Whether they’re laughing at a funny anecdote, frowning in concentration or waving their hands in the air to answer a question, you can see right in front of you what an impact Book Week – and your own hard work — is having on them.

How meaningful is it, for you, to be organizing Book Week for your particular province or territory?

It is such an incredible gift to be organizing PEI’s Book Week tours. I still remember Ted Staunton reading Puddleman and Phoebe Gilman showing us how you can draw anything by starting with just a circle – and those are Book Week visits from my own childhood, over twenty years ago! I’m honoured to be a part of helping kids across PEI have those same experiences today.

Janine Hoff, Book Week Coordinator for Northwest Territories

Janine HoffTell us about your experience coordinating Book Week 2017 so far. (When did you start working on it, what kind of work is involved, how many authors and schools have you had to coordinate, etc.)

I started coordinating the Canadian Children’s Book Week in 2009 and the NWT Public Library Services has been coordinating this annual event since 2004. The logistics of organizing this event is a large undertaking having to ensure fair access to 21 communities spread out over a million square kilometers. Added to the challenge is that many of these communities are only accessible by aircraft and the weather can sometimes interrupt air travel. We’ve taken the approach of rotating regions so that we can visit each community once every 5 years and I always accompany the visiting author/illustrator/storyteller.

To date, I’ve organized week-long tours for two storytellers, two illustrators, four authors and one author/illustrator. Presentations have been given at thirty-one schools, one young offender’s facility, one bookstore, and twenty-seven public libraries.

What are your favourite aspects of this job? Or the most gratifying parts?

This event is one of the highlights of the year for me. Every year, Canadian Children’s Book Centre provides a list of stellar authors/illustrators/storytellers and we’ve been so fortunate to have received such talented, open minded and adventurous professionals.

I really enjoy watching the children’s expressions as they receive their presentations. They warm quickly to our visitors and are full of curious questions. They’re very willing participants in any hands-on activity. It’s especially heartening when they receive a presentation during the school day and are at the door with all of their friends to attend an evening presentation. Some have even opted out of soccer practice!

Hands down the *most* gratifying moments are when I witness the teenagers, who start out as reluctant audience members, reach their turning point from nonchalance to full engagement. It’s even better when they make the connection that being an author, illustrator or storyteller is a viable career path, if that is where their own passions lie.

We have many talented children in the NWT and I think there will be quite a few new authors, illustrators and storytellers to watch out for!

How meaningful is it, for you, to be organizing Book Week for your particular province or territory?

As my work is in literacy, therefore it means a lot to me to be a part of something that promotes children’s literacy as well as lends appreciation for Canada’s champions in this area. I carry a deep connection and respect for the people and land of the NWT and so I really enjoy sharing some of the history and culture. It gives me great pleasure to act as an unofficial ambassador and also to see that appreciation reflected back to me when the tour is completed.