News and Media

Festival Diary: Rainforest of Reading 2017 in St. Lucia.


Happy Birthday from St. Lucia to East Africa.

We have a unique logistics issue. It involves a few birthday cards that cannot be mailed. Many of 10,000 students in St. Lucia taking part in the festival just finished Today is the Day by Eric Walters. It’s the story of a Kenyan orphanage that holds a huge birthday party every year on July 12. Many orphans don’t know what day they were born. Many more have never celebrated a birthday. So, we were thrilled to learn St. Lucian kids want to reach out to these 150 Kenyan orphans with their own handmade birthday cards. One of the festival activities will be colouring specially-made cards. All we have to do is get about 2,000 of them from St. Lucia to Kenya. Can anyone help us out?


Banse La Grace Combined School is first of 98 schools to start Rainforest of Reading 2017.

From Principal Sylvie Edward: I am letting you know that we have received the latest donations of books and I can tell you that our students are very happy to have received them. They are very enthusiastic and have begun reading. The teachers are excited…to try out the many ideas that are in them. Words cannot express the gratitude that we feel. Sharing some pictures of students of Grades 3, 4 & 5 reading books and completing the first part of their passports. Our reading buddies from Grade 6 have also began their duties. Like we say here in St. Lucia — Mèsi an pil! (Thank you very much!)”


The Rainforest of Reading has definitely taken off.

Norm Nadon (LEFT), seen here with co-worker Courtney (RIGHT), made it possible for this year’s festival to start sooner than ever before. He donated his Cargo employee discount to the cost of air freight. Instead of waiting two weeks for their books to arrive by sea, grade 3, 4 and 5 students now have more time to enjoy this year’s Rainforest of Reading books. Thanks for your support, Norm.


How we cater to hungry readers: OneWorld Schoolhouse holds its annual Packing Party.

Start with 150 freshly-printed cardboard boxes courtesy of Royal Containers Ltd., fold and tape until firm. Gently add 250 class sets of eleven exciting stories. Combine with 7,500 student passports, 500 classroom posters and Teacher Guides. Top with stickers, buttons and ribbons for 10,000 – and voila: the St. Lucia Rainforest of Reading 2017 festival is ready to serve! Thanks to volunteer chefs”: Sonya, Marlaina, Grace, Dale, Richard and especially the Other Richard.


Our playbook didn’t cover this donation.

A chance encounter with a crate of toys in their Etobicoke store encouraged Sonya White (ABOVE RIGHT) to huddle with IKEA Canada. Communications specialist Kristina Juricek took the ball and ran with it, or should we say ran with them. She’s arranged for us to receive 250 soft-stuffed footballs. No doubt these donations will put a new spin on at least one activity at the festival with Jael Richardson (ABOVE LEFT) author of The Stone Thrower. Jael’s story is a charming memoir of her father, the legendary CFL quarterback, Chuck Ealey.


Hey, Readers! Put your hands up if you want a three day festival.

To accommodate an estimated 10,000 students attending the fourth annual Rainforest of Reading, we’ve added a second day to the Castries festival. Students in Vieux Fort will again have their own day. Eighteen volunteers from Canada, including 2 authors – Vikki VanSickle (If I Had A Gryphon) and Jael Richardson (The Stone Thrower)–will be coming to set up the festival and manage the fun.

DAY 1: Tuesday, March 14, 2017. VIGIE MULTIPURPOSE SPORTSPLEX. Castries.

DAY 2: Wednesday, March 15, 2017. VIGIE MULTIPURPOSE SPORTSPLEX. Castries.

DAY 3: Friday, March 17, 2017. PHILIP MARCELLIN GROUNDS. Vieux Fort.


Here are the nominees for St. Lucia’s Rainforest of Reading Award 2017.

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies Written by Carmen Oliver; Illustrated by Jean Claude Aquesbi. Capstone Books.

Down Here Written by Valerie Sherrard; Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Gerbil, Uncurled Written by Alison Hughes; Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Going for a Sea Bath Written by Andrée Poulin Illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle. Pajama Press.

The Good Little Book Written by Kyo Maclear; Illustrated by Marion Arbona. Tundra Books.

If I Had a Gryphon Written by Vikki Van Sickle; Illustrated by Cale Atkinson. Tundra Books.

InvisiBill Written by Maureen Fergus; Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. Tundra Books.

Manners Are Not For Monkeys Written by Heather Tekavec; Illustrated by David Huyck. Kids Can Press.

Music is For Everyone Written by Jill Barber; Illustrated by Sydney Smith. Nimbus Publishing.

The Stone Thrower Written by Jael Richardson; Illustrated by Matt James. Groundwood Books.

Today is the Day Written by Eric Walters; Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. Tundra Books.

Thanks to teachers in Ontario for their indispensable support.
This year we received donations to purchase books for the festival from: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association; Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and Ontario Federation of Teachers. 

Coming up: Nevis in June and Montserrat in November
We’ve been invited to Nevis and Montserrat for the second and third annual Rainforest of Reading, respectively. Books selections and author & illustrators will be announced later.

Life is too deep for words so don't try to describe it, just live it.

C. S. Lewis
Author, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Start some kind words on its travels. There is no telling where the good it may do will stop.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell
Humanitarian, Medical Missionary (1865-1940)
Challenging literacy development
Although English is the official language of St. Lucia, Krewyol is spoken as much or more outside the classroom.

I read. I travel. I become.

St. Lucian author & 1992 Nobel Laureate
Find 52: The Road to Reading in Grenada
In February 2015, Richard ran right around Grenada, a distance of 52 miles. 52 "Mile Captains" raised $40,000.

If we want to make this world a better place, then we have to become better ourselves. There is no easy route.


If you get the right [words] in the right order, you might nudge the world a little.

Sir Tom Stoppard
It's a long story
Books packed by kids in Ontario for their peers in the Caribbean travel 1,800 kilometres by road then another 5,275 kilometres by container ship.

Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

It is by acts and not ideals that people live.

Author (1844-1924)

A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.

Author (1810-1889)

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

Philosopher, Psychologist (1842-1910)

Reading brings us unknown friends.

Novelist (1799-1850)

If you believe what you can, quite literally, believe anything.

Professor, Philosopher (1912-1991)

All I know is what I have words for.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Out of this world
After reading "Postcards from Outer Space' a student in Montserrat is inspired to be the next Chris Hadfield.

Too many people grow up. That's the trouble with the world.


The future is always beginning now. Each moment is a place you've never been.

Poet (1934-2014)
And the Winner in Montserrat is....
Marlaina White (Left) announces the Second Annual Rainforest of Reading Award to Illustrator Jan Dolby (Middle) and Author Joyce Grant for "Gabby."

At the moment that we persuade a child, any child to cross...that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever.