Category Archives: Canada

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great Book Finds from Toronto!

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Last week, I was presenting at RFTLOI (Reading For the Love Of It) conference in Toronto.  One of my favorite parts about the conference is book browsing (and buying) at the publishers displays.  Here are some of my favorite new books I squished into my suitcase!

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I am Josephine (and I am a living thing) – Jan Thornhill

A charming introduction to the concept of classification in the natural world for early primary students.  The combination of science and search-and-find works brilliantly and I love the colorful cheerful, cheery illustrations!

The Tree: An Environmental Fable – Neal Layton

When a family wants to cut down a tree and build a house, what will happen to the animal nests and burrows?  A sweet, simple tale about harmony in the natural world with a gentle message of taking care of the environment.

Teacup – Rebecca Young

Stunningly beautiful book about loss, redemption, adventure, hope – so breathtaking that it made me quite teary.  A young boy leaves his home and sets off to begin again.  Before he leaves, he fills a teacup with soil  from his home.  This is a book filled with subtle messages and would be an excellent choice for teaching inferring, symbolism and metaphor.  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language – LOVE this book.

The Wolf-Birds – Willow Dawson

This book is fascinating!  Set in the winter woods and based on scientific data and anecdotal reports from Aboriginal hunters, the book explores the fascinating symbiotic relationship shared by wolves and ravens.  Gorgeous, calming illustrations and beautiful language – a perfect introduction to survival and the circle of life.

Abigail, the Whale – David Cali & Sonja Bougaeva

I was immediately attracted too the cover of this book and the adorable illustrations.    As a child, I was very chubby and was teased a lot for being a “butterball”.  I completely connected to this heartfelt story of Abigail, who is teased at swimming lessons because of her round frame and called “a whale”.  Her swimming teacher gives her some support and advice on how to “think light”.  This is a tale of positive thinking and would be a great starting point for a discussion about teasing, self-esteem, empathy, and perspective.

A Change of Heart — Alice Walsh

This year, I have been developing a unit called “Reading and Thinking Across Canada”, using picture books that tell true stories of Canadian events.  This book fits perfectly into the theme – and tells the remarkable true story of Lanier Philips, a US soldier in WWII who escaped the racism and segregation of his hometown in Georgia, survived a shipwreck, became an honorary Newfoundlander and went on to become a civil rights activist.  REMARKABLE!

The Stone Thrower – Jael Ealey Richardson

Another remarkable true story about an unknown Canadian hero..The Stone Thrower is the true story of Ohio-born Chuck Early who, despite his outstanding record as a high school and college quarterback, is rejected by racist NFL and instead plays for the Canadian Football League where he is named a Most Valuable Player. Themes of segregation, poverty, resilience and civil rights all tied up into an inspiring sports story – what more could you ask for?

My Beautiful Birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

When Canadian author Suzanne Del Rizzo was looking for something to read to her own children that would explain the Syrian Civil War, she came across an article about a young Syrian refugee who found solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp. And so she wrote this book.  This book is gorgeous – textured filo illustrations reminiscent of Barbara Reid and a gentle, moving story that illuminates how this crisis is impacting children. It shows the reality of refugee camps and the struggle of families uprooted who are trying to redefine “home”. 

Lost and Found Cat – Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

A true, heartwarming story about an Iraqi refugee family who is separated from and eventually reunited with their beloved family cat.  Such an amazing story it is hard to believe it is true – but it is.  Your students will break into spontaneous applause when you read the last page!   Will also inspire discussions about what it means to be a refugee.

Bob, Not Bob! (to be read as though you have the worst cold ever)   – Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick

This book made me laugh so much!  A little boy is stuffed, snuffly and sick in bed with a terrible cold.  All he wants is his mom – but when he calls his mom – it comes out “bob” – and soon the slobbery family dog comes running!  LOL!  A great read aloud!  Cracked me right up!

                            Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books caught your eye?

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Filed under 2017 releases, Canada, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Links to content, New Books, Refugee, Science, social justice

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

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Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

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7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Reading and Thinking through Canadian History

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Teaching Social Studies though literature is something I have always found to be the most meaningful and interesting way to teach.  Because the students at my school are comfortable using Reading Power strategies, they are ready to apply their thinking to different content areas.  One class I am working with at school is focusing on Canada in Social Studies so we have been practicing Reading Power strategies using picture books that are based on true events in Canadian history.  Marking the events, dates and locations on a map of Canada is helping us gain perspective and we will end the unit with a time line activity.   Canadian history + picture books – ENGAGED LEARNERS!

Here are my Top Ten books that focus on a piece of Canadian history:

  1. Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event  Rebecca Bond

Inspired by the author’s grandfather’s experiences living in a lodge in the woods, a story of how people and animals survive a forest fire in a small Canadian town in the early 1800’s.  Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful writing, perfect for VISUALIZING.

2. The Patchwork Path to Freedom – Bettye Stroud

A child tells of escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad, accompanied by her father, and of following secret signs sewn into quilt patterns.  The story is exciting and the quilt-code messages are fascinating.

3. Laura Secord: A Story of Courage – Janet Lunn

Laura Secord became one of Canada’s most celebrated war heroines when, during the War of 1812, she overhears an American soldier’s plan to ambush the British Commander James FitzGibbon.  Laura braves miles of rough terrain to warn FitzGibbon, preventing the massacre and saving the lives of hundreds of British soldiers. Informative and interesting introduction and gorgeous illustrations.

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4. The Prairie Fire – Marilynn Reynolds

A young boy’s heroic efforts to help his parents save their prairie homestead.  This book is a wonderful historical glimpse into the beauty and hardships of prairie farm life.  Realistic and dramatic prairie landscape illustrations make this an excellent story for VISUALIZING.

 

5. Secret of the Dance – Andrea Spalding and Alfred Scow

In 1885, the Canadian government outlawed Potlatch ceremonies and threatened severe consequences for those who did not obey.   Many continued the ceremony in secret.  This is the story of a young Native boy and his family who are spirited away by boat to a secret location where he witnesses a Potlatch.   Rich, colorful, detailed illustrations.  Powerful and thought-provoking.  Great for QUESTIONING.

 

6. Emma and the Silk TrainJulie Lawson 

 After a train carrying bolts of precious silk derails, a girl, obsessed with longing for a silk blouse, spends weeks combing the nearby river for fabric. This story is inspired by the 1927 derailment of a silk train in British Columbia and includes fascinating historical notes about the speedy silk trains of the 1920’s.

7.  Free as the Wind: Saving The Horses on Sable Island  – Jamie Bastedo

This book recounts the story of how hundreds of Canadian school children in early 1960 wrote letters to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker pleading him to stop the wild horses on Sable Island from being turned into dog food. Amazing story and a great example of the power of persuasion and standing up for what you believe.

8.  Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear – Lindsay Mattick

This book tells the true Canadian story of Winnipeg, or “Winnie”, the black bear from Ontario who became a mascot for soldiers during World War I and later inspired author A.A. Milne’s most beloved character, Winnie-the-Pooh.   Illustrator Sophie Blackall was recently awarded the 2016 Caldecott medal for her illustrations in this book.

9.   Queen of the Falls – Chris Van Allsburg

At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Annie Edson Taylor, seeking fame and fortune, decided to do something that no one in the world had ever done before-she would go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.  A fascinating true story with remarkable life-like illustrations.   While Annie Taylor was American, the backdrop for her stunt is certainly Canadian.

1o.   Not My Girl – Christy Jordan-Fenton

By 1884 it was compulsory for the First Nations children of Canada to attend either a day or residential boarding school. This is an excellent book (by the author of the novel Fatty Legs) for younger students to introduce them to the challenges created by residential schools.  This story is based on the author’s own experiences and would be an excellent book for making connections, questioning and transform.

1o (OK… it’s actually 11)   Dolphin SOS – Roy Miki

This beautifully illustrated book tells the true story of three dolphins trapped in an ice-covered cove on the coast of Newfoundland and the brave teens who rescued them when government officials refused to help.  Perfect book for QUESTIONING.  You will hold your breath until the last page!

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite Canadian picture book to share with your students?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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