Book-lover Cailin Cooper first volunteered at The Word on the Street festival in 2009. 'The festival was an event I looked forward to getting involved with each year,' she says. This year's festival is set for Sept. 21 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Queen’s Park Circle. Admission is free.

From volunteer to event production at Canada’s biggest lit fest

The Word on the Street festival starts Sept. 21

There’s always a reward for being passionate about something.

Cailin Cooper adores reading, so after moving to Toronto, she wanted to keep her passion for books alive.

WOTS-2014-poster-small-Web“I volunteered at The Word on the Street festival … in September 2009, and then again in 2010 and 2011,” Cooper said. “The festival was an event I looked forward to getting involved with each year.”

The Word on the Street festival is the largest literary event in Canada. It’s a free public festival that promotes interaction with recognized authors and book publishers, in an ambience filled with family activities, readings, book and magazine stalls, plus workshops for aspiring authors.

This year is a special occasion, because it marks the 25th anniversary of the festival.

“We have a pretty strong lineup of authors. One thing that makes the festival special is that we host 100 per cent Canadian authors, which is unique,” Cooper said.

wots_logo_colour_with_tagline_transparent_connection-WebAmong the authors making their appearance at the Bestseller stage are Dionne Brand, Frances Itani, Andrew Pyper, Kenneth Oppel, Shani Mootoo, Nick Cutter and Robyn Doolittle, the investigative reporter who broke Rob Ford’s drug scandal. She will have a panel discussion onstage about the case with Robert Rotenberg.

With more than 75 exhibitors this year, ranging from the largest publishing houses, independent authors, magazines publishers, plus full day activities, seminars and workshops means a packed day for literature fans.

Digital horizons

It’s no secret that we live in a digital age. Bookshops are closing, the book industry is slowly embracing digital formats.

“Book are still very important” Cooper said. “You wouldn’t have the digital age without books. We need to share ideas in person … stumble upon things … and hear directly from the authors themselves. It’s important to have this personal connection with the creators, and you can definitively do that at the festival.”

Valentina Garcia, 4, discovers a fairytale book.
Valentina Garcia, 4, discovers a fairytale book. (Ramon Lafee. Toronto Observer)

Kids are the biggest users of tablets and other digital devices, however, getting young ones into books and reading can be a little difficult.

“Lead by example,” Cooper said. “Show them the fun of books. A lot of reading activities are at the festival. Something will catch their eyes and they could bring it home. It will be something they discover.”

The Word on the Street festival

Sunday, Sept. 21

11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Queen’s Park Circle

Free entrance

More info »

Queen’s Park