Guyanese-Canadian author Natasha Deen and her family moved to Canada to escape Guyana’s growing political and racial violence. Natasha used her experiences growing up as a mixed-race person, often the only Person of Colour in the room, as inspiration with her writing. She’s published over forty works for kids, teens, and adults. Natasha’s been the recipient of multiple awards, including the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the Red Maple Honour Book, and her novels have been Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections, CCBC Best Picks for Kids and Teens, and included in the OLA’s Forest of Reading Lists. As well as teaching Introduction to Children’s Writing for the University of Toronto’s SCS Program, Natasha regularly visits with schools, festivals, and organizations. Her talks have been called “a Ted Talk meets stand-up comedy,” “inspirational,” and “dynamic.” Natasha’s presentations celebrate resilience, perseverance, and the triumph of imagination over reality. When she’s not writing or teaching, Natasha spends her time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the



HUSH. LISTEN. HEAR. SPEAK: Using the Key of Nira GhaniNatasha shows how our experiences not only help us with writing stories but help us to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. The session helps students view themselves and those around them in a kinder, more positive light, encourages them to tell their stories, and to become listeners to the voices of those who are different than them.
Themes include: mental health, self-identity & self-image, own voices narratives
Writing Fundamentals: point of view, creative non-fiction, character voice

OF MICE AND MUTANTS: Using superheroes as a jumping point, Natasha explores what it means to be the person behind the mask, and how knowing the true arc of the superhero can help students unlock the superhero inside of themselves and those around them.
Themes include :resilience, perseverance, identity, kindness
Writing Fundamentals: Point of View, subtext, deduction


THE HERO’S JOURNEY: The hero’s journey doesn’t just live between the pages of a book but breathes and grows in our lives, as well. Natasha’s session shows students how having a hero’s mindset can help them meet their goals in school and life.
Themes include: persistence, strategy, inner power
Writing Fundamentals: plot, character, subtext

THERE IS YOU, THERE IS ME, THERE IS US, THERE IS WE: This session gets students talking about how heavy issues can be tempered with humour, how to find their inner strength, and how being aware of the world around also helps in the creation of fiction/non-fiction narratives.
Themes include: internal dialog, bullying, relationships
Writing Fundamentals: plot twists, writer’s block, who is your audience?


Storytelling and Children’s Literature: Self-Esteem, World View, and Identity
From teaching empathy, creating safe spaces, exploring complex emotions, and boosting immune systems, stories are not-so-secret powerhouses for helping children and teens with their world views and self-esteem (and they’re not too shabby with
helping adults, too!). But stories are more than words on a page or an image on the screen. They’re a life template and guide to helping people find their happy ending. Join Natasha for an exploration of how stories are a key to helping define identity and changing the world for the better.

Media Mayhem: Raising Readers in the Digital Age
From video games and social media to homework, sports, and band, there are a myriad of things pulling kids’ attention. Compared to other leisure activities, reading can feel downright dull in comparison. But the act of reading hides many secrets—like how it can
foster empathy, increase deductive and critical reasoning, and how it can empower kids in an age of dangerous Tik-Tok trends and harmful beauty standards. The other secret?
There are no “born” readers, but there are ways to excite readers at every age and skill level. Natasha’s session will offer practical, simple techniques to raising readers and helping kids ignite a life-long love of stories.

Live, Laugh, Be Different: Embracing the Power of The Other
Natasha grew up in the middle. Her household was Muslim-Christian until she was six. She was born Canadian, but spent the first part of her life in Guyana before moving to Calgary—leaving her living an immigrant experience in the country of her birth, and
she’s of mixed heritage, South Asian, Caribbean, African, and Chinese. For many years, living on the outskirts of categories and experiences was confusing and alienating. Then, it was illuminating. If knowledge is power, then the knowledge of being
the outsider empowers every person who’s ever been defined as “Other.” Throughout history, our past is full of stories of The Other, people who defied society and fulfilled their potential. Our future is wide open for those who claim agency and power in being who they are. How we navigate when we live in the intersections of identity, when we’re “too much” of one thing and “not enough” of another, calls us to be nimble, agile, and resilient. Most importantly, it’s a tuning fork, allowing us to decide who we are and what we can accomplish, no matter what the world may say. Natasha’s talk will explore past and present definitions and stories of identities, and how we can empower ourselves and those around us to take power and peace in who we are.

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