Literacy Programs

Community and Social Development

We’ve been bringing the best storytellers and illustrators from around the world into contact with kids throughout the region since 1999. Our Write On! youth literacy program includes the free in-school and in-library literacy events, along with a series of hands on workshops with acclaimed authors.

In many ways, the workshops, author readings and energetic Q&A sessions with thousands of children each year—many from Ottawa’s most disadvantaged and challenged schools—is perhaps the most important program we offer. As our schools struggle to boost their standings in province-wide comparisons, and with reading showing the least improvement of ‘the three Rs’, our commitment is to intensify our efforts to build on the results we’re seeing from these programs.


Senator Joyce Fairbairn, a champion of the literacy movement in Canada for over 20 years, has referred to the literacy situation in this country as Canada's “hidden shame.”


The costs, both financial and spiritual, of the literacy crisis in Canada are devastating, and it is part of our mandate to develop solutions to the extreme challenges of this situation.


We have worked closely, not only with children, but with the homeless, new Canadians, First Nations, and parolees to create writing and publishing opportunities as well as other basic skills that will enable these citizens to gain self-esteem and to overcome obstacles in achieving their full potential.

Write On!


Literacy is a birthright. Every donation opens the door for one more student. Click the button below to make a tax-creditable donation or call us at (613) 562-1243 for more information.


Last year, more than 4,000 primary and secondary students were able to participate - a huge increase from the 400 we reached in 1999. But demand for this important program far outstrips our funding to deliver it. 


By working with Public Schools, Catholic Schools, Alternative Schools, Private Schools and home-schooled children as well as libraries throughout our community, Write On! has  become an effective tool for teachers as well as for children and their families in growing early literacy skills, fostering a love of reading and promoting literacy and creativity, while demonstrating the power of words to enlighten, inspire and entertain.  

Our literacy program is extremely popular with teachers and students. When Lisa Powell at Manotick PS found out her school would be participating, she emailed us to share her enthusiasm: “Oh My God!!!  THANK YOU!!!! My students are going to flip!!!” Kathy Bacile, a teacher at Immaculata, summed up her school’s experience, saying “It was a wonderful resource and experience.”

To Apply

The Festival is pleased to offer grants covering all associated costs of school visits through our children’s literacy program.

To apply for a free school appearance this Fall, please email Leslie Wilson with the number and age range of students (Minimum 100) your preferred date and time and school contact information. 


Our free children's programming is presented with the support of:



Ontario Arts Council        City of Ottawa

Canada Council for the Arts   

The Write On! Masterclass Series

These public daytime events held during the Festivals are designed for emerging authors, in which established writers give hints, tips, techniques and advice for new writers. Our authors cover the secrets of biography and autobiography, playwriting, graphic novels, editing, poetry, fantasy, and much more - all with plenty of time for audience questions. 


These events are ideal for emerging writers in high school and university; students always attend at a reduced rate, and groups arranged through schools attend free! Call 613-562-1243 for more information.