Read the North: Canada 150 Reads for Kids

Jul 8, 2017 | Kids Books | 0 comments

Canada is celebrating 150 years of Confederation so, of course, we need a list of books to teach kids about our home and native land . . .

Canada ABC

by Paul Covello

Children's Books - Canada ABC by Paul Covello

Most of these books are the listing types:  either alphabet or number.  Covello’s bright, simple illustrations pair well with iconic Canadian symbols like dogsledding or the maple tree.

What did we learn?  

Surprisingly, the abc’s of Canada.

Why I love it:

 I just like the bright simplicity of his illustrations.  And as in all these alphabet books, I enjoy seeing how my favourite places are depicted.

Why I Love Canada

Pictures by Daniel Howarth with words by Canadian kids

Children's Books - Why I Love Canada by Daniel Howarth

There is an entire series for most of the provinces and territories (I am assuming there will eventually be 13 for each) with words by kids answering what they love about Alberta or British Columbia or, in this case, Canada.

When I first read this out loud to George my mum commented that it wasn’t very well written.  I laughed and explained that it wasn’t a story per se but a collection of teeny essays about a child’s love for their home – written by kids.  Then she thought it was brilliant.

What did we learn?  

What other people love about Canada.

Why I like it:  

I love that these sentences are written by children and therefore opens the question to George and Alice about what they love to.  Although George hasn’t quite grasped the concept of Canada and that we are a country in the world.  Or what a country is.  Or what a province is.  So basically he loves that he can blow bubbles.

Goodnight, Canada!

by Andrea Beck

Children's Books - Goodnight, Canada by Andrea Beck

As the title suggests, these books say both ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ to various scenes across Canada. A little boy who lives in Newfoundland wakes up/goes to bed and wonders what is happening across the country. From a moose spotted outside the flaps of a tent to maple syrup being tapped – he goes through scenes across Canada.

What did we learn?

We learned about what other kids are doing across Canada and what a diverse country it is. I don’t think George really understands the concept of what a country or a city is yes but we talk about the Toronto page as being our home. Then we discuss other pictures: this is where grandma and grandpa live, this is where we are going next week, would you like to see this beach, etc.

Why I like it:

Obviously because I love real things in cartoon form, this book is for me (Toronto looks so cute like a cartoon!). I love that the little boy goes through each province and territory to say ‘good night’.

Carson Crosses Canada

by Linda Bailey

Children's Books - Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey

In this book, Annie and her dog Carson, who live in Tofino, embark on a cross-Canada road trip to Newfoundland in order to take care of Annie’s sick sister, Elsie. We see the duo stop in iconic places along the very long car ride: the Rocky Mountains, Lake Winnipeg, and Niagara Falls. Carson is promised a surprise at the end of the trip and I won’t ruin it for you but I may have cried.

What did we learn?

This is getting repetitive but we learned about Canada. Ha!

Why I like it:

It’s a very humourous story with very fun characters. You feel as though you are on the trip with them (or want to drive across Canada yourself) and it offers a nice break from all the ABC/123 Canada options for learning about our country.

Children's Books - Moose, Goose, Animals on the loose by Geraldo Valério

This one is about all the animals in our home and native land. So the usual like beavers, moose, and loons and then more obscure animals like the yellowthroat or ivory gulls.

What did we learn?

 We learned about all the animals that live in Canada from mammals to fish to amphibians to birds in a fantastic alliterative, rhyming and poetic way.

Why I like it:

 Valério doesn’t just stick to the “A is for Arctic Fox” method so each page/letter/animal is unique. He uses lots of alliteration (powerful playful polar bear) which is always fun to read out loud. And he includes the baby animal’s names as well: Canada Goose, gosling grazing on the grass. Lastly, I enjoy his paper collage method of illustrations.

Children's Books - We Live in Canada by Na

 I picked this up for Alice the other day but George loves it as well. It’s a touch & feel/lift flap exploration of Canadian animals.

What did we learn?

About Canadian animals (there is perhaps some overkill in this list).

Why I like it:

Perfect for babies who like to feel different textures like soft moose antlers and fuzzy bears or discover baby animals behind flaps.

Children's Books - Ride the Big Machines Across Canda by ABC of Canada by Carmen Mok

I found this at the library right before July 1st and I love that it has a unique take on listing things across Canada.  As opposed to kids exploring Canada or our native animals, this one goes by big machines/vehicles you can find across the country.  From a combine in Saskatchewan to the streetcars in Toronto to a ferry in Newfoundland to a shovel truck at a diamond mine in the North West Territories.

What did we learn?

What big machines are doing across the country.

Why I like it:

It’s different than the usual list and as George is really into vehicles, it’s fun to learn their real names.  Like a hauler.  Oh and it’s fun to talk about what we can ride – like a gondola up a mountain (B.C.).

ABC of Canada

by Kim Bellefontaine

Children's Books - ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine

You have definitely seen some of these books around. Obviously these list Canadian things by letter or number. Clear, simple and fun illustrations showcasing everything Canada.

What did we learn?

About . . . . . Canada (surprise surprise)

Why I like it:

Simple text, simple illustrations with lots of learning and discussions.

A Canadian Year

by Tania Mccartney

Children's Books - A Canadian Year by Tania McCartney

Hot off the press! Just released in June before Canada’s birthday, this new book exploring the months of the year and kids across Canada.

What did we learn?

The months of the year and what kids are doing across Canada.

Why I like it:

As in Gürth’s books about the seasons, I always welcome the opportunity to talk about seasons and months. MacCartney’s book has the added bonus of truly representing Canada’s multicultural values depicting Liam, Ava, Oki, Chloe and Noah (the five kids exploring Canada) as various races and cultures across Canada. She also showcases modern and traditional practices allowing for lots of discussion.

Fun Fact: McCartney is actually Australian and has a fantastic series of this book for Australia, New Zealand and England (and New York and Texas). She is also the founder of the incredible children’s literature site:  Kids’ Book Review which gives you countless ideas for reading to your kids.

Children's Books - A Porcupine in a Pine Tree by Helaine Becker

Okay this is technically a Christmas book and this is a summer post – but it’s perfectly Canadian and belongs on this list. As you can imagine, this is a retake on the traditional 12 Days of Christmas with a very Canadian take. You’ve got bear cubs, Mounties, loons in a canoe, puffins, curling squirrels AND Leafs leaping. Becker lives in Toronto so she used her hometown hockey team in the story – much to the chagrin of some angry hockey fans on Good Reads who are tired of Toronto being the centre of Canada (although to be fair – Leafs works well with leaping and since moving to Toronto, I have discovered it is the centre of Canada).

What did we learn?

Rhyming, animals, Canadiana . . ..

Why I like it:

Funny Canadian take on a traditional Christmas carol. Becker has also turned “Jingle Bells” into Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells and “Deck the Halls” into Deck the Halls: A Canadian Christmas Carol.

As this list can seriously go on forever, I am going to stop here. There are a plethora of fantastic books about Canada.

We haven’t even touched the iconic Canadian books that were a part of our libraries growing up and are still enjoyed by children today (that is another day and another post). I will include three books of the week that I enjoyed back in May – perfect for your Canada reads for kids.

Below are three non-fiction books that I have happened upon and now live on our bookshelf that will last for years to come:

The Big Book Of Canada

by Christopher Moore

Children's Books - The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore

with an introduction by Janet Lunn (one of my favourite childhood authors!)

This book is great for kids and adults! It explores Canada with easy to read and not terribly boring history/statistics relating to each province and territory.

Canada Year by Year

by Elizabeth Macleod

Children's Books - Canada Year by Year by Elizabeth MacLeod

The history lover in my absolutely loves this book that takes us from 1867 to the present with fantastic illustrations and an easy-to-read format that young kids like George can enjoy. It’s also fairly inclusive bringing Indigenous and women’s history into the read. Although, as for children, it softens some of our sad, terrible histories like residential schools and Japanese internment camps.

My Canada

by Katherine Dearlove

Children's Books - My Canada by Katerine Dearlove

A very accessible and whimsical illustrated atlas of Canada. George is having a hard time grasping that we have to fly to see his grandparents so I like to turn to this map to show him where we are in respect to everyone else in our family.

I hope you enjoy reading and teaching your kids about Canada as much as I do.  We live in one of the most glorious places in the world and I hope my kids are at proud of the maple leaf as I am.

Happy Canada Day!

As always, Happy Reading,

Curious in Wonderland

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