The teachers’ strike could not have come at a worse time for children’s literature artisans. The visit to the Montreal Book Fair by 18,000 students from school groups is compromised by the work stoppage of primary and secondary teachers this week.
Authors and publishers stand in solidarity with the struggle of teachers to achieve better working conditions. During the teachers’ strike, the literary community is crossing its fingers that parents will benefit from free access to the Book Fair decreed for children under 16 and an accompanying adult. Each adult can accompany a group of five children or less for free, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 2pm.
High school students aged 16 and over will also be able to enter for free by presenting their student card, and without necessarily being accompanied by an adult, says Olivier Gougeon, director general of the Montreal Book Fair.
“What saddens me is that children from disadvantaged backgrounds probably cannot come to the Hall without being part of a school group. But, paradoxically, we hope that the young people who would not have come will take advantage of the strike days to visit us for free”, he adds.
In the literary world, we consider the Montreal Book Fair to be an essential showcase for children’s literature. “It is a school trip that is important for young people. They make encounters and discoveries that open the doors to literature”, says Olivier Gougeon.
The presence of school groups is “essential” for book fairs, including the one in Montreal, insists Karine Vachon, director general of the National Association of Book Publishers (ANEL). She is delighted that the Montreal Show grants free entry to youth and accompanying adults.
Obstacles have arisen around the event in recent years: there was the pandemic, then student access to last year’s show was complicated by barriers surrounding the Convention Center due to the COP15, this international meeting on biodiversity. School buses could not stop in this quadrangle.
A Quebec star system
Editors joined the duty We still hope that young people will be there, even if only on Saturdays and Sundays, which are always very busy at the Book Fair. Practically all the events planned before the call for the teachers’ strike remained on schedule.
“Young people mainly consume foreign films and music, but they read books from Quebec. It is unique in the world. We have a micro star system of Quebec children’s literature”, says Marc-André Audet, of Éditions les malins.
Pioneers like Bryan Perro and India Desjardins have paved the way for a new generation of Quebec readers and authors who contribute to a rich literature, the editor emphasizes.
Events such as book fairs are essential in this ecosystem, because the ban on advertising aimed at children also limits the promotion of children’s literature, recalls Marc-André Audet.
The book industry needs all the help possible, including fairs like the one in Montreal, in the difficult economic context, argues Sophane Beaudin-Quintin, commercial director of Editions Michel Quintin. “Demand is still there, but we feel a slight slowdown, probably because of the rising cost of living and interest rates,” he says.
Youth theatres, which depend largely on school groups, also have to adapt to the teachers’ strike, recalls Marie Fradette, author, literary director and theater critic (especially in duty). He wants parents to take advantage of the strike to take their children to the Book Fair, the library or the theatre. “Otherwise, we know what will happen: children will spend the day in front of a screen. »
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