It is often said that a good book can be a ticket to far-flung places and times that one would otherwise never experience. This year, the Toronto Public Library took that idea one step further in designing posters for the 2011 Keep Toronto Reading Festival. With the tag line, “let books transform you this April,” they feature typical Toronto scenes and readers holding up books with faces on the covers superimposed over their own very different faces. Books, the library suggests, can also transport us into the experience of others.
Besides the transformative power of books, there is plenty to look forward to throughout April’s Keep Toronto Reading Festival. There’s “Midnight at the Dragon Café,” the first novel by Judy Fong Bates that is garnering glowing reviews. The novel headlines the Toronto Public Library’s Keep Toronto Reading Festival as its One Book. The Festival, which will include an author reading with Bates in a Chinese restaurant, kicks off April 1st with the Starlight Cantonese Opera at the Toronto Reference Library, and lasts for the entire month. There will be more than 80 events happening throughout the city at many library branches and elsewhere, many of them celebrating either the pastime of reading or Canadian-Chinese culture.
Bates’ novel is about a young girl growing up in small-town Ontario, torn between two cultures and carrying the heavy burden of family secrets. Besides the 1,150 copies of “Midnight at the Dragon Café” that are circulating within the library’s system, another 500 copies were given out to commuters on the TTC by volunteers. The idea is to read the book, discuss it with friends and neighbours, and pass it on when finished.
There are other planned events happening all month, from weekly storytelling, author readings, and meetings to wine & cheese book swaps, workshops, discussions, and lectures. National Poetry Month will launch at the Lillian H. Smith library on Monday, April 4th, and the Eh List Author Series will continue at various library branches. Exciting events such as the Globe and Mail Open House, featuring Alexander McCall Smith, creator of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, are already sold out except for a limited number of rush tickets.
The Keep Toronto Reading Festival ends on April 30th with a children’s Book Bash at the Northern District library branch. This final day of the festival will focus on younger readers, and includes activities such as a plasticine workshop and a puppet show. It is a fitting end to a month-long celebration of all things literary: ensuring that the habit of reading, and love of the written word, are passed to the next generation.
For more information, and a full list of events, please visit the festival’s official site.