Book festival inspires kids to write their own stories

“Not every kid loves to read, but every kid loves to laugh” is the slogan of Funny Pages, a book festival that debuted at the Halifax Central Library on Friday.

Hundreds of students from Grades 4 through 6 gathered at the library to hear from some of Canada’s funniest authors and enjoyed a day of presentations, book signings and comedy workshops.

Author Natasha Deen recounts funny stories from her life to a group of students at Halifax Central Library on April 22, 2022. – Kaija Jussinoja

“It’s the first field trip that most kids have done in two years, it’s probably the first live presentation most of our authors have done, so that’s really exciting. And just to see kids laughing at books, it’s great,” said Vicki Grant, author and chair of the festival.

Funny Pages, a non-profit society, promotes laughter as a gateway to literacy for kids. “We believe that funny books can get them really turned on to the joy of reading,” Grant said.

The authors who spoke on Friday showed that humor isn’t just the key to a love of reading, but a love of writing too.

Many of the interactive presentations focused on inspiring kids to write their own funny fiction. The authors taught kids where to find ideas and how to make funny stories. They gave tips on how to overcome self-doubt when writing and how to publish a book.

“I’ve been trying to write books except I just haven’t really been able to, and I got lots of tips,” said Esmé, 11. “I always start and then never finish,” her friend Adeline, 11, added .

Esmé is working on a story about a girl lost in a forest, and Adeline is writing about a girl and a dragon. The two said they’ll definitely continue writing their stories after hearing from the authors.

“After watching (Richard Scrimger’s) presentation we learned a bunch of new techniques.” said Mira, 12. “I think it’d be really fun to try and write my own funny book.”

The Chronicle Herald asked seven Funny Pages attendees if they’d write a book after the festival. Six of them said yes.

The one who didn’t, Gates, 11, said, “It’s tempting, I will admit that. But I don’t think I’m ever going to write my own book. I just don’t think I’d be the best writer out there. I make very simplistic stories.”

Hopefully, the remaining presentations changed his mind.

A group of students from St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary School pose for a photo during their lunch break at the Halifax Central Library on April 22, 2022. - Kaija Jussinoja
A group of students from St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary School pose for a photo during their lunch break at the Halifax Central Library on April 22, 2022. – Kaija Jussinoja

Friday’s authors included Odette Barr (Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart!); Natasha Deen (In the Key of Nira Ghani); James Leck (The Adventures of Jack Lime); Angela Misri (Pickles vs. the Zombies); Steve Vernon (Where the Ghosts Are: A Guide to Nova Scotia’s Spookiest Places); Richard Scrimger (The Nose from Jupiter); and Wade White (Treasure and How to Steal It).

The fun will continue on Saturday, when preschool children have the chance to meet Kate Beaton (The Princess and the Pony) and Sheree Fitch (Mabel Murple). Tickets for Funny Pages are free and the event will be livestreamed. For more information, visit funnypages.ca

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