Once Upon A Time…

Our story begins, as many stories do, with an idea. The simple idea was to create a festival where children and the books they love were the main attraction. A festival where homegrown Canadian authors, illustrators, and storytellers would be spotlighted and given the opportunity to connect with fans and new audiences. An idea that grew to become Telling Tales.

Telling Tales Festival began as a Rotary project which quickly won the support of a record number of clubs in the Hamilton-Burlington area. Schools, libraries, like-minded organizations, and volunteers jumped on board to build a community genuinely committed to raising readers. 

Over the years, Telling Tales Festival has evolved from a magical one-day event at Westfield Heritage Village to a glorious two-day event at the world-renowned Hendrie Park, Royal Botanical Gardens. 

Beyond the September festival, Telling Tales works with school and community partners to deliver year-round live and virtual outreach programs that represent our rich cultural history.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Telling Tales pivoted to meet the needs of families and educators with an ambitious series of pre-recorded and livestream sessions. Many of these presentations continue to be enjoyed through the website’s on-demand library. Telling Tales strives to find the balance of in-person and virtual programming that meets the changing needs and preferences of their audience.  

Join us as we inspire readers, champion literacy, and turn the page on a bright future! 

Since we launched in 2009, Telling Tales has reached countless children and their families through festivals, events, and community outreach:

  • 360 literary artists featured
  • 746 presentations delivered (568 live and 178 virtual)
  • 71,000 live festival audience
  • 230,000+ viewership YouTube
  • 68,600+ books sold, traded, and donated
  • 6,900+ author autographs

In 2023 alone we reached:

  • 6,000+ in-person at Telling Tales Festival
  • 10,000+ virtual and in-person attendance by students, educators, and families reached for school and community events

Turning the page to a brighter future

Telling Tales believes that fostering a love of reading is the first step to developing the literacy skills that can change lives.

Reading opens new worlds for young people: empowering them to make informed choices, enabling them to imagine a better and hopeful future, and equipping them with the ability to make that future a reality. 

Research shows that children who read have better educational, health, and social outcomes. Literacy is the first step on the pathway to broader social inclusion and fully engaged participation in society.

For over 15 years, Telling Tales has encouraged a love of reading by directly connecting youth and families with Canadian storytellers. Our signature festival and year-round interactive programming invite children to read, write, and imagine. Every time we light the spark that inspires greater love of reading in a child, we are one step closer to fulfilling our mission.

Our mission is to deliver outstanding literary programming for children and youth that raises awareness of the importance of literacy in our communities.”

Our vision is to inspire a love of reading and improve literacy in children and youth.”