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Small Print Toronto stages creative writing workshops and literary events for children and young people. Our projects are designed to encourage them to explore a vital question:  How do stories work? 

Learning to tell one’s own story and to understand those of others builds self-confidence and develops intellectual curiosity.  Our programming cultivates an ongoing dialogue between professional creators and their primary audience that invites young people to participate in the diverse imaginative landscape of Toronto.

Every city is a collection of stories; we empower young people to contribute theirs.



Our Tot Studio program encourages 2-8 year olds to approach reading as an interactive, creative process. Children’s authors and illustrators forego the routine of traditional storytime in favour of more performative ways of bringing their tales to life. Drawing demonstrations and puppet shows are just the tip of the iceberg. Every show culminates with a collaborative arts-and-crafts project.

Notable among the recent events in the Tot Studio is The Mouse City Project, an ongoing exercise in civic engagement where budding urban planners build a city for storybook mice out of recycled materials.

The Tot Studio is the incubator for two annual extravaganzas:

Every February, we stage Totsapalooza, a celebration of the DIY spirit in local, kid-friendly culture, featuring picture book authors and indie bands. Each show has a theme and a set of related crafts. Last year’s Totsapalooza, for instance, celebrated the silver anniversary of Toronto’s most famous turtle, Franklin, and attracted about 450 people.

We also partner with The Little Paper and Rooster Studios to present The Little City Festival (Formerly Totstock) every June in Sorauren Park. It’s a giant neighbourhood party featuring live bands, children’s authors, games, crafts, artisans, and locally grown food. A bicycle-powered generator provided the electricity for last year’s Main Stage concerts, which drew about 4,000 people over the course of the afternoon.


Children’s Story Jam is a new workshop series, hosted by noted novelist Vikki VanSickle, where KidLit authors get feedback on works-in-progress from their most discerning critics: young readers.

The workshops are tailored to address the formal issues that are of greatest concern to the creators. There is a “free jam” portion of the event, during which young people can share their own writing or create something spontaneously based on a prompt like a classic children’s verse.


The Volume One Project is a creative writing workshop series for scribes between 8-12. Every session is tailored to showcase a new middle-grade novel and gives aspiring writers a chance to tell their own stories with leading professional authors.  

Notable Volume One Projects include “Cracking The Case with Shane Peacock,” where budding sleuths composed the ending to a murder-mystery scenario devised by the author of the award-winning Boy Sherlock Holmes series, based on clues that they unearthed during a scavenger hunt.


We are delighted to partner with Mabel’s Fables on the I Haven’t Read The Book Club, a monthly literary salon where girls between 13-17 can take part in short writing exercises with some of their favourite authors. 

Still less than a year old, I Haven’t Read The Book Club has already featured a roster of stellar YA novelists from across North America including: Kelley Armstrong, Cecil Castellucci, Sarah Dessen, Vicki Grant, Alyxandra Harvey, Deborah Kerbel, and Lesley Livingston


For the past seven years, Roald Dahl fans throughout the United Kingdom have been marking the renowned children author’s birthday by celebrating Roald Dahl Day. Toronto fans were finally able to join in the fun two years ago, when we mounted the first-ever Roald Dahl Day celebration in Canada.

Donald Sturrock, Artistic Director of The Roald Dahl Foundation, came from England to help us launch Toronto Roald Dahl Day and to celebrate the North American release of his Dahl biography Storyteller.  He joined esteemed novelist Joseph Kertes on stage to discuss the literary legend’s stranger-than-fiction life and legacy.  

The focus of our second annual Toronto Roald Dahl Day this past October was the 50th anniversary of James and the Giant Peach. We marked the occasion by invitingmiddle grade students to participate in a short story writing contest based on the following scenario:

What if James, a lonely orphan in today’s Toronto, discovered a peach as big as a house, filled with human-sized friendly creatures?

An all-star panel of judges  - Kelley Armstrong, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Susan Kernohan, Mark Medley, Evan Munday, Janet Somerville, Kevin Sylvester, and Vikki VanSickle – whittled down the mountain of submissions and selected “James Heads to the ROM” by Sierra McLean as The Grand Prize Winner.  To read Sierra’s award-winning tale, click here.


Chris Reed spent four years running This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS) for Pages Books & Magazines. To see if the ‘non-reading’ approach to literary events he practiced at TINARS would work with children’s books, Reed created a monthly program called TINARS For Tots. The response to this test pilot of sorts was nothing short of phenomenal.

The inaugural TINARS For Tots event, hosted by Claudia Dey, attracted about 50 people. All 125 tickets to the debut Totsapalooza were snapped up in just four days. Close to 1,200 folks came to Souraren Park for the final show of the season, Totstock ’09, hosted by Don Kerr of Rooster Studios, and Vicki Bell of The Little Paper,with Rebecca Brown of Bunch Family.

When Pages Books & Magazines closed its doors for good in August of 2009, Reed opted to build on the tremendous momentum that he and his collaborators generated by creating a new entity: Small Print Toronto. 

Around this time, Reed met Natalie Kertes. She had just spent a year in Ireland running creative writing workshops with renowned author Roddy Doyle at his writing centre Fighting Words Dublin. Kertes and Reed developed their own variation on one of Doyle’s workshops. Its success led them to create other opportunities for young wordsmiths. What began as a partnership has since blossomed into the troupe of creators listed below. 

As a coda of sorts, Doyle hosted the launch of A Toronto Alphabet, a book by grade four and five students at Nelson Mandela Park and Queen Victoria Public Schools, based on a three-month-long creative writing and photography workshop that Small Print Toronto conducted with The Luminato Festival.


Chris Reed, Artistic Director

Natalie Kertes, Associate Programmer
Walker Ballantyne-Hill, Illustrator

Don Kerr, Music Director

Derek Ma, Web Design & Webmaster

Evan Munday, Program Director

Rani Sanderson, Program Director

Vikki VanSickle, Program Director

Chris Wilkie: Graphic Designer & Photographer

Program Facilitators: Taylor Berry, Liz Glenn, Vanessa Hansen & Shoshana Wasser 

Board of Advisors:

Vicki Bell, Editor, The Little Paper 

Dave Bidini, Author / Musician / Journalist  

Matthew Blackett, Publisher, Spacing Magazine.                                                                        

Rebecca Brown, Creative Director, Bunch Family

Claudia Dey, Novelist / Playwright / Journalist

Ibi Kaslik, Novelist / Educator

Susan Kernohan, Director, Young Voices, Toronto Public Library

Siobhan McMenemy, Editor, University of Toronto Press

Wendy O’Brien-Ewan, Professor, Humber School of Arts & Sciences

Natalie Zina Walschots, Wordsmith and Promotions Wizard

Emily Pohl-Weary, Director, Street Writers, Academy of The Impossible