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Back to School Books

A wealth of books for readers of all ages about school, learning, friendship, and getting along in the world—an ongoing lesson for most of us. 

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A World of Kindness, by Pajama Press (Picture Book)

About the book: In a series of simple yet evocative questions, this impactful book asks children how they will show kindness and consideration for others. Written by the editors of Pajama Press, and illustrated by celebrated Pajama Press artists, these stunning pages inspire meaningful discussion and storytelling about the understated yet powerful ways in which children might influence the world around them. A World of Kindess goes beyond mere rhetoric to examine, in a child-friendly way, everyday social interactions where a kind word or act could have a transformative affect on others.

Royalties from the proceeds of this book will be donated to Think Kindness

Many of the original images in this book have been donated by the artists. The cover art was created and donated by award-winning author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo.

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Counting on Katherine, by He …

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Colleen Nelson on Unlikely Friendships in YA

Just in time for back-to-school and a whole host of brand new faces in the halls, we bring you this list by award-winning YA novelist Colleen Nelson—inspired by her latest novel, 250 Hours—about the amazing possibilities of unlikely friendships. 

BONUS: Until September 2, you can enter to win your own copy of the book! Go here to find out how. 

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My young adult novel, 250 Hours, is about an unlikely friendship between Sara Jean and Jess. Sara Jean, a “townie,” is the caregiver for her grandmother and trapped with a future she thinks she doesn’t want. Jess, on the other hand, lives with his mom in a trailer and he's obsessed with lighting fires. He is also desperate to head west, and will, as soon as he completes his community service hours. And then when Jess is ordered to clean out Sara Jean’s garage as part of his punishment, they discover secrets about the town’s history that draw them together.  

The unlikely friendship that develops between Jess and Sara Jean bridges a gap that has split their community for generations. Through their relationship, Jess and Sara Jean begin the slow process of healing.

Below are my favourite Canadian young adult novels that also feature unlikely friendships. 

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Back to School Books

With September, it's back to school we got and there are the books to get you ready. These are titles featuring school themes and/or settings and there's something for readers of all ages, from little kids to big kids, and grown-ups—including parents and teachers.

Happy New (School) Year! 

*****

Buddy and Earl Go To School, by Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookoocheff (Picture Book)

About the book: Buddy and Earl know that with the right education they can become anything—even a dentist or a hot-dog vendor! So they eagerly gather their silly, smelly supplies and head to school.

Soon after they arrive, their teacher, Miss Meredith, is called away and Professor Earl takes charge of the classroom. Buddy works hard at lessons like Sniffing Things, Tail Chasing and Scratching Itches. And when Professor Earl announces that one very special student is going to win a major award? Buddy cannot imagine who that lucky student might be…

In this fourth book in the critically acclaimed Buddy and Earl series, the dog who likes to play by the rules and the hedgehog who knows no limits learn just how much fun school can be.

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Back to School Reads

Book CoverT Move It, Miss Macintosh

New books on back-to-school, schooling, academia, and/or books featuring school busses on their covers. Welcome to a new school year! 

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Move It, Miss Macintosh, by Peggy Robbins Janousky and Meghan Lands

About the book: Kids aren't the only ones who get nervous on the first day of school!

It's the first day of school and Miss Macintosh is certain about one thing: she isn't going! As she snuggles back under the covers, the doorbell rings. In comes Mr. Bellweather, the school principal who assures her that all kindergarten teachers have first day jitters.

Soon, other teachers arrive to help get her out the door. Mrs. Burger, the lunch lady, makes sure she has a good breakfast; Mrs. Sketcher, the art teacher, helps her pick out clothes. Still, Miss Macintosh is anxious. What if she can't find her class? What if no one likes her?

When she finally stands at the front of her class, she can tell that the children are nervous too. That's when she comes up with an idea to put everyone at ease—including herself.

A perfect read-aloud to children who may be anxious about school, this book will get them laughing and reassure them as they get ready for the big day.

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Janice MacDonald Goes Back to School in Fiction

Book Cover Another Margaret

The latest title in Janice MacDonald's Randy Craig Mystery Series is Another Margaret, in which Randy Craig, MacDonald's peripatetic academic sleuth, helps her best friend organize their 20-year reunion at the University of Alberta. Not suffering any of the typical reunion anxieties, however, Randy is more concerned with resolving a 20 year old CanLit scandal and catching a ruthless killer. Her tumultuous past as a graduate student comes rushing into the present as she faces off against old ghosts and imminent death.

In this guest post, MacDonald explores the appeal of the campus novel, and provocatively asserts that academic mysteries are superior to their mainstream literary counterparts every time

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Although we may have worked our way through several thick, trashy beach reads and even tackled one of those bucket list denizens like Proust or Tolstoy while slathering on the sunscreen, we perpetual students, we bookish types, revel in the fall. Autumn days, crisp and clear, bring to many the timeless desire to buy knee socks, punched hole reinforcements and a new Thermos. It also brings to mind booklists and, for those of us no longer attending institutes of higher learning, campus or academic novels.

As the writer of the Randy Craig Mysteries, a series set in …

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Back to School Books from Preschool to University

Whether you're a preschooler, an elementary school student, heading off to a school for the arts, feeling exam pressure already, ready to tackle college or university or the world beyond it, and especially if you're a teacher, we've got a back to school title for you. 

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A+ for Big Ben, by Sara Ellis and Kim LaFave

About the book: His sister is a big kid in grade five. His brother is a big kid in grade three. Ben is a little kid in preschool. He can’t swim; he can’t use chopsticks; he can’t even see out of the car window. If only he could bring home a real report card like the older kids do, then Ben would be happy. But there are no report cards in preschool. Sometimes older siblings remember what it was like to be little, however, and Ben’s brother and sister are about to present Ben with his very own report card, grading him on all the activities that little brothers do best.

Award-winning author and illustrator Sarah Ellis and Kim La Fave team up to produce a book that is a triumph for little siblings everywhere. The engaging text, lively illustrations, and board book format are perfect for eager readers with little hands, big hearts, and bigger dreams.

Why it's worth tucking into your backpack: You don't have to go to school to know it's back to school …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Creative Thinking and Collaboration

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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September is about change, new routines, working things out and learning to work together with friends and schoolmates. These books about creative thinking and collaboration to solve problems have never been so timely.

Any Questions, by Mary Louise-Gay, is a brilliant introduction to the writing process for readers as young as kindergarten. The book itself is a collaborative adventure, beginning with the author fielding questions during a school visit. “How do you write a story?” the kids ask. Gay begins by explaining a white piece of paper might inspire a snowstorm. But what if it’s a yellowish paper or a purplish gray? Gay then begins a story-within-a-story with the illustrated characters offering suggestions (along with the readers, especially if this is used as a read-aloud). Will it be about a ferocious snail or a boy who can fly? Gay decides on a shy giant and a purple beast. The reader watches how the author paints, creates, and writes, scratching things out, changing her mind. The illustrations are large, compelling, with enough detail to beg for a re-read. Plus, it’s paced perfectly so that the characters, and the reader, are disappointed when i …

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What I Read on my Summer Vacation: Guest Post by Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen (in a hat!)

As a stay at home dad, it’s never easy to carve out time to write. Summer presents a whole new set of challenges. This past summer I was able to do some writing in the very early morning, before the rest of the house was awake. On the whole, however, my kids’ summer vacation meant that I had to take a vacation from writing. So, instead, I read. What a treat! I so seldom get a chance to read. And with the beginning of the new school year I resolve to read even more. Meanwhile, here are some of my recently read favourites:

Chapter Books

Banjo of Destiny by Cary Fagan:

Quirky and delightful, Cary Fagan’s Banjo of Destiny tells the story Jeremiah Birnbaum. Jeremiah is the unconventional child of wealthy parents who appears to have it all. In fact, it all counts for nothing. The greatest thing he has is his passion to learn to play the banjo. Overcoming numerous hurdles, to say nothing of his foolish parents, Jeremiah follows his heart and discovers that he is capable of creating much more than just good music.

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Canadian Bookshelf Takes You Back to School

Yellow student-crossing sign

It’s hard to escape the allure of the Back to School season, with its new shoes, backpacks, and three-ring binders, shiny pencil cases with sharpened pencils inside, and fresh, pink, perfect erasers. Even with another month of summer still technically before us, and even though many of us aren’t even going back to school, September is still a month of yellow busses, crunchy leaves and new beginnings. The good news is that anyone can start studying via Canadian Bookshelf and the amazing array of how-to books that can be found in our virtual library.

So you want to find out How to Be a Spy. Or even more mysteriously, How to Crack the Cryptic Crossword? You can find out How to Be Happy, or at least How to Be Not Too Bad.

How to be a Spy

Heritage House Publishers has a whole line of fishing manuals, from How to Catch Trout to How to Catch Crabs, and at the end of the day there’s always How to Cook Your Catch. Back on dry land, there is How to Make a Garden, How to Get Your Lawn off Grass, and you can go to natural extremes with How to Get Your Lawn and Garden Off …

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