Forest of Reading 2024 Winners Revealed at Rock Concert for Reading Festival

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in English Tutoring, Featured, Local, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

Forest of Reading 2024 Winners Revealed at Rock Concert for Reading Festival

Attention Forest of Reading students and teachers, the winning books have been revealed at the Toronto Festival. The two-day in-person celebration (May 14 – 15, 2024) is dubbed ‘The Rock Concert of Reading’, and there is a good reason for it. Over 6,000 students, educators and volunteers congregate to cheer on their favourite Canadian authors and illustrators. This crowd of reading champions includes the Teachers on Call online and in-person tutoring team who attend annually to cover the action. Not to fret if you were unable to make it this year. Our President & CEO, Joanne Sallay, shares her festival account, current list of 2024 winners, and how to maintain strong reading habits for the rest of the school year and summer!

Harbourfront Festival Coverage from Teachers on Call’s Joanne Sallay

        Do you wonder how to get your child to enjoy reading? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. I know first-hand this is a popular question from parents of elementary and high school students. That’s why our in-person and online tutoring service loves to recommend that students participate in the Forest of Reading, Canada’s largest recreational reading program. Whether your child is an advanced or reluctant reader, or somewhere in-between, there is something for everyone. To make it easy for anyone who could not attend, we’ve assembled the 2024 Forest of Reading winning titles into one easy list, with some fun facts along the side. Happy reading!

        How to sign your child up for the program.

        Every October registration opens through schools and libraries when nominated lists for the nine school-aged programs are announced. Even if you don’t register formally, it is easy to follow along independently using the nominated titles as a guide. However, the true benefit of participating is the comradery with fellow bookworms throughout the year, and the opportunity for student readers to vote for their favourite books in April. Then in May, students celebrate either digitally or in-person at the downtown Forest of Reading Festival to see the winners announced on the Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage (235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8). 

        All about the Harbourfront Centre in-person festival.

        For the in-person festival, thousands of student readers in or around Toronto arrive by public transportation, buses and car-pools. The days are filled with workshops, autograph signings, and the opportunity to select and go home with a brand-new book from a giant tent courtesy of First Book Canada. The award ceremony is a cross between the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and a music concert. For each category, the books are paraded on stage represented with a giant sign of the book cover, along with the author/illustrator and student representative. In the background is this excited noise and energy from the screaming students holding up their favourite books in the air. Thanks to the organizers, students are looking up to their favourite authors and illustrators as celebrities.

        Celebrate across Canada with the digital ceremonies.

        The digital ceremonies follow as well as the 3 French language awards to ensure that all readers across the country can celebrate and share the excitement of celebrating the winners. If interested in watching the 2024 Forest of Reading Digital Ceremonies for the 6 English language awards, view here

        Forest of Reading 2024 Winning Books

        The complete list of 6 English language winners is here:

        Blue Spruce Award Winner: Benny and the Bananasaurus Rex by Sarahbeth Holden, illustrated by Emma Pedersen

        Silver Birch Express Award Winner: Rock? Plant? Animal?: How Nature Keeps Us Guessing by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Brittany Lane

        Silver Birch Fiction Award Winner: Apartment 713 by Kevin Sylvester

        Yellow Cedar Award Winner: Animal Eyes: How Creatures See and How Their Eyes Have Adapted to Their World by Françoise Vulpé

        Red Maple Award Winner: The Fort by Gordon Korman

        White Pine Award Winner: Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin

        The Evergreen Award, is the 10th category for adult readers, run by libraries in the summer. The adult program is comprised of Canadian fiction and non-fiction books, with the award winner announced in October for Canadian Library Month and Ontario Public Library Week (during the 3rd week of October).

        2024 Blue Spruce Award™ Nominees for JK-Grade 2 picture books

        Benny the Bananasaurus Rex - Written by Sarabeth Holden, Illustrated by Emma Pedersen, Published by Inhabit Media Inc.

        Blue Spruce readers have voted for their favourite banana loving protagonist, Benny. This is a tale about a little boy with a big imagination and love for bananas!

        About Sarabeth Holden and Emma Pedersen:

        Sarabeth Holden is a Toronto based award-winning writer. Fun fact, she has written books on a range of topics that include dinosaurs, bananas and diapers.

        Emma Pedersen lives in Toronto, Ontario and is an award-winning illustrator and story teller. Fun fact, Emma lives with a smelly, little dog.

        2024 Silver Birch Express Award® Winner for Grades 3-4, fiction, non-fiction

        Rock? Plant? Animal? How Nature Keeps Us Guessing - Written by Etta Kaner, Illustrated by Brittany Lane, Published by Owlkids

        Forest of reading voters have selected this nonfiction book as the 2024 winner. Fans of science will enjoy this scientific guessing game filled with interesting illustrations and fun facts. Every picture is accompanied by a simple question: rock, plant, or animal? Do you think you will be able to tell the difference? There is only one way to find out!

        About Etta Kaner and Brittany Lane:

        Etta Kaner lives in Toronto, Ontario. Fun fact, Etta was previously an elementary teacher with the Peel District School Board (west of Toronto, covering municipalities of Caledon, Brampton and Mississauga), teaching students identified as gifted and with learning disabilities from kindergarten to grade 6.

        Brittany Lane is based in Stouffville, Ontario. Fun fact, prior to becoming an illustrator and fine artist, Brittany was a wildlife Biologist. She holds an honours degree in Biology from the University of Guelph (50 Stone Rd E, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1).

        2024 Silver Birch Fiction Award® Winner for Grades 5-6, fiction

        Apartment 713 - Written by Kevin Sylvester, Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

        Silver Birch Fiction readers were screaming and cheering for Kevin Sylvester at the 2024 awards ceremony where he was announced the winner of this category. At his workshop immediately following, he shared his inspiration for the plot.  The story of Jake and the Regency, which the city plans to demolish, is inspired by a historical building that Kevin loved growing up that was almost torn down. Read on to take an adventure with Jake and his friends on their quest to save the Regency!

        About Kevin Sylvester:

        Kevin Sylvester lives in Toronto, Ontario. Fun fact, in addition to writing and illustrating a number of best-selling books (topics ranging from sports to financial literacy), he is also a known Canadian broadcaster.

        2024 Yellow Cedar Award Nominees for Grades 5-8, non-fiction

        Animal Eyes: How Creatures See and How Their Eyes Have Adapted to Their World - Written by Françoise Vulpé, Published by Firefly Books

        This STEM pick from Yellow Cedar middle grade readers has many classroom connections. It begins by teaching how eyes and vision work by covering everything from the biology of eyes to the physics of light. It then goes into a survey of 40 of the world's most interesting animal eyes. This title is perfect to support math and science learning on subjects ranging from adaptation, evolution, biodiversity, body structures, sensing and responding, just to provide a few examples. Reading strategies that could be highlighted are making connections, questioning, and inferring.

        About Françoise Vulpé:

        Françoise Vulpé is a Toronto based writer and editor.

        2024 Red Maple Award™ Winner for Grades 7-8, fiction

        The Fort - Written by Gordon Korman, Published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.

        Friendship is an important theme for middle-schoolers, which is no surprise that this title resonated deeply with student readers. This story follows five friends who set up a hideout in an abandoned bomb shelter. Serious themes are covered with one of the kids trying to avoid an abusive home situation in the makeshift shelter. The students ultimately confident in each other to strengthen bonds and keep each other safe.

        About Gordon Korman:

        Gordon Korman is originally from Montréal, Québec. Fun fact: he has written more than fifty middle-grade and teen novels.

        2024 White Pine Award™ Nominees for Grades 9-12, fiction

        Pieces of Me - Written by Kate McLaughlin, Published by MacMillan, St Martin Press

        This story is about a girl named Dylan who is diagnosed with a rare mental health condition called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Dylan experiences multiple voices crammed in her head and gaps in memory but finds solace with a new friendship. Ultimately, it is a story about uncovering strength in not being alone.

        About Kate McLaughlin:

        Kate grew up in rural Nova Scotia. Fun fact: she’s published more than 50 books under different pen names, including What Unbreakable Looks Like, Daughter, and Pieces of Me


        It’s not too late to start or continue reading Forest of Reading books! I have heard many parents say they are sorry their kids missed out this year. The learning does not need to end, as these curated lists make for great end-of-schoolyear and summer reading. Even for students enrolled in the program all year, there is still reading room given that participants are required to read a minimum of five out of the 10 nominated titles. Access the full list of 2024 nominated titles here.

        If you love the Forest of Reading, please feel free to follow along on our Hooked on Books blog for behind the scenes interviews with Forest of Reading authors and illustrators.

        Related Articles View All

        Hooked on Books with Kevin Sands’ Thieves of Shadows Series

        In our latest Hooked on Books, we interview Kevin Sands for a glimpse into his Thieves of Shadows book series and Forest of Reading initiative.

        Hooked on Books with Susan Allen’s “Count Me In”

        In our latest Hooked on Books, we interview Susan Allen about "Count Me In", her debut leadership memoir.

        Looking for a tutor?

        We are here to help your student excel. Contact Teachers on Call today to get started with our award-winning tutoring services.

        Get Started Today

        Contact Us