Nick’s Picks: Highlighting Canadian Books for Children and Teens

This post was originally published in Nick Glass’ monthly column for Curriculum Connections, an e-newsletter published by School Library Journal in partnership with TeachingBooks.net. Subscribe to this free newsletter here.

One of the joys of my job is working with educators in thousands of North American schools. When I ask them which authors they love to read, they often passionately cite local writers.

In Canada, I’ve noticed that question is answered with a tremendous admiration for their own authors. This appreciation appears to go above town or even provincial affinity: it’s a sincere respect for the writers and illustrators of their homeland.

In this post, I highlight a few favorite Canadian authors and related online resources. I hope these multimedia materials connect you to these titles in fun, meaningful ways and prompt you to consider integrating them throughout your curriculum.

Robert Munsch reads and sings the beginning of Love You Forever
Robert Munsch, Canada’s best-selling children’s book author, writes stories that entertain readers and listeners everywhere. Love You Forever (Firefly Books, 1995) has sold more than 18 million copies worldwide, and continues to strike an emotional chord in both children and adults. Munsch’s enthusiastic performance of the opening lines of his book will amuse youngsters in an audio that’s perfect for elementary classrooms and library storytimes.

Deborah Ellis introduces and reads from The Breadwinner

Deborah Ellis has a gift for probing the hopes and hearts of children and teens growing up in unthinkable situations around the world. In her first title of a trilogy set in Afghanistan [The Breadwinner (2001), Parvana’s Journey (2002), and Mud City (2003), all Groundwood], readers admire Parvana’s heroic acts under the oppressive horrors of the Taliban government. This reading, which includes an introduction by Ellis that provides superb historical context, will fascinate middle-grade social studies classes.

Kenneth Oppel reveals how his name sounds like a gemstone

Kenneth Oppel is a best-selling Toronto author; a winner of the prestigious Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature; the first Canadian author recognized by the Michael L. Printz award committee; and the creator of tremendous books for teens [Airborn (HarperCollins, 2004), the “Silverwing” saga (S & S), and others].

Karen Levine’s Hana’s Suitcase

I rarely meet a teacher or librarian in Canada who doesn’t know or use Hana’s Suitcase (Second Story, 2002). The resources found at the Web site dedicated to this book unravel the mystery surrounding an empty suitcase found at Auschwitz. The suitcase, which is now located in the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center, stirred a teacher and a classroom of Japanese students to investigate the story of its owner. Be sure to click on the “Q & A” tab and listen to Hana’s brother, George Brady, answer questions about his childhood and wartime experiences—it’s a phenomenal primary-source resource.

Nick Glass is the Founder of TeachingBooks.net and reads as many Canadian books as time permits. If you have favorite Canadian authors, he’d love to know! nick@TeachingBooks.net

Posted by Nick Glass, Founder & Principal of TeachingBooks.net

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