Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Literacy Programs

Welcome to the
Republic of Childhood:
Learning from the Future


The Writers Festival was born in 1997, and in 1999 we introduced our writers-in-schools program which, to date, has connected well over 100 Canadian and international writers in all genres with more that 20,000 young learners throughout the region.

The Republic of Childhood is a direct response to teachers, parents, librarians and, of course, kids themselves who desire a more intensive writing experience where kids are front and centre in the delivery of books, stories and the writing life. 

The Republic of Childhood launches on Universal Children’s Day, and the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 20th 2017. 

Republic of Childhood continues through Tuesday, November 21 and Wednesday November 22 with readings, panel discussions and writing workshops. Fifteen acclaimed writers will join the festivities all the while animated by the integral participation of children and young learners. 

Participating authors include: 

S.K. Ali, Joel Bakan, Jo Becker, Mary Branley, Alan Cumyn, Charles de Lint, Cherie Dimaline, Amal El-Mohtar , Nahid Kazemi, JonArno Lawson, Jael Richardson, Jamaal Jackson Rogers, Kevin Sands and Deborah Kigjugalik Webster

Putting Children First

Creativity, curiosity and innovation come natural to children. The Republic of Childhood is a space where these natural gifts are nourished and protected in a safe and loving environment.


Back Story

The Ottawa International Writers Festival is proud to launch this new initiative, which grows organically from our long and fruitful relationship with Children’s and Young Adult literature, and our successful partnership with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Public Library.

We are indebted to the tireless work and inspiration of Senator Landon Pearson who, for almost half a century, has been a devoted champion of the well-being and rights of the child.

Upon her retirement from the Senate in 2005, Landon Pearson moved with all her documents and papers to Carleton University where she directs a Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights that has been established in her name.



We are grateful to the support of the Community Foundation of Ottawa and Canada, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, RBC, the Ottawa Public Library and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Our advisors, the National Research Council of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada, have generously provided expert insight and guidance.


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.


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. 


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.