The Saskatoon Public Schools' Literacy for Life conference will be telling Saskatchewan Stories and celebrating literacy with thousands of students, staff and community members during the annual event that runs May 1-5.
Now in its 12th year, the goal of the Literacy for Life conference is to engage, encourage and inspire children, youth and adults. Each year, students learn from authors, illustrators, journalists, storytellers and other literacy role models during sessions held on the University of Saskatchewan campus and in their schools.
The theme for this year's event is Saskatchewan Stories, which provides an opportunity for students to connect and experience the works of a wide range of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan creators.
The lineup of presenters taking part includes authors Alice Kuipers, Mary Harelkin Bishop, Jennifer Berthelot, Michael Bradford, and Alison Uitti. Songwriters Paul Runnells and Wayne Bargen will share their music with students, and storytellers Paul Bazin, Paralympian and educator Colette Bourgonje, and First Nations educators Don Speidel and Timothy Eashappie will bring their unique experiences and learning.
As part of a partnership with the Saskatoon Public Library, librarians Mike Diakuw, Jim Drake, Jenn Baetz and Claire Middleton will help bring words and stories to life with their presentations.
One of the highlights of the week is the gala evening on Monday, May 1, at TCU Place featuring author and historian Bill Waiser. Waiser specializes in western Canadian history and has published more than a dozen books including his most recent, A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, which won the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. He is a frequent public speaker and contributor to radio, television and print media.
As part of the conference the 20016 Willow Awards winners for 2016 will be announced during an event being hosted by École Forest Grove School on Thursday, May 4, at 1 p.m. The Willow Awards recognize the best Canadian/Saskatchewan book as chosen by children. The Shining Willow Award is for books written for young readers; the Diamond Willow Award is for titles written for upper elementary readers (grades 4-6); and the Snow Willow Award is for books for young people in grades 7-9. More information about the Willow Awards, nominated titles and past award winners is available on its website.
The conference supports the Saskatoon Board of Education's Literacy for Life strategic priority and its goal that all Kindergarten to Grade 8 students will achieve at or above grade level in reading, writing, and mathematics. They will be engaged in their learning and graduate as active participants in lifelong learning and as responsible, caring, culturally responsive citizens in the community, nation, and world.
The Literacy for Life conference is a success due to the support of business and community members coming together to recognize the importance of literacy and to better understand the impact literacy has throughout one's life. The contributions of corporate sponsors, partners, donors school community councils, and individuals who purchase tickets to the annual Literacy for Life gala ensure this learning experience is cost-free for students.
More information on the event and presenters is available on the Literacy for Life conference website.