With nearly three quarters of the world expected to live in urban areas by 2050, it’s about time we see more children’s books about living in the city. Kids in New York and Paris, of course, have had their own beloved icons for years (thank you Harriet, Madeleine and CJ from Last Stop on Market Street), but Canadian readers haven’t seen themselves represented in quite the same way. This absence is part of the reason I’ve been working with Groundwood Books on the ThinkCities series.
My third book in this nonfiction series exploring urban systems and sustainability, City Streets Are for People is coming out this week and it’s a kid-friendly manifesto about reclaiming our streets for people and transit, not cars. The series has also looked at city trees and water systems because decoding our environment will help young people live better and advocate for the health and well-being of their communities. It’s also just really fun to see the places you live in the books you read. In that spirit, here are a few titles—both fiction and nonfiction—that take on the urban jungle and its people in all their busy, complex glory.
When I was a teenager, walking into a yarn store for the first time made me feel out of place and awkward about asking for yarn for myself.
“Are you buying this yarn for your mom?” the cashier would inevitably ask. My heart would sink, and I’d say, “No, it’s for me.” Stereotypes have a way of choking off your internal joy.
As a teenager, I felt like I was buying stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be buying. Some kids were trying to sneak peeks at Playboy (or Playgirl – duh). But here I was, feeling furtive because I wanted to make something pretty.
Throughout my teenage years and up until The Crochet Crowd began, I wouldn’t reveal to many people that I knew how to crochet.
“Are you buying this yarn for your mom?” the cashier would inevitably ask."
I kept at it though. I just did what I had to and still enjoyed crochet, even though it was my own little secret. Crochet helped quiet my mind by making me concentrate on one stitch at a time.
I grew up in a home where creativity was encouraged and daydreams were gateways to ideas.
Living for a short time in a small town, Ontario, arts and crafts were a way to fill time in the e …
Storyteller and author Ivan Coyote’s latest work, the nonfiction collection Care Of (McClelland & Stewart), is a moving meditation on care and community. Penned during the early months of the pandemic, the book is a collection of notes and letters from audience members to Ivan and their deeply compassionate responses to these letters.
The Star calls the book “strong medicine, best taken in measured doses, and a vital reminder of the value not only of connection, but of every story, every voice.”
Ivan Coyote is a writer and storyteller. Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, they are the author of thirteen books, the creator of four films, six stage shows, and three albums that combine storytelling with music. Coyote’s books have won the ReLit Award, been named a Stonewall Honour Book, been longlisted for Canada Reads, been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize for nonfiction, and awarded BC and Yukon Book Prize’s inaugural Jim Deva Prize for Writing that Provokes. In 2017 Ivan was given an honorary Doctor of Laws from Simon Fraser University for their writing and activism.
Trevor Corkum: In Care Of, you respond to letters, notes, and emails from a range of folks who’ve written deeply personal messages to you over the years. When and how did you imag …
Ariel Gordon, award-winning poet, brings things together—people, ideas, forms and genres, and more. She is author of essay collection Treed: Walking in Canada's Urban Forest, and her latest release is TreeTalk, her third poetry collection.
It was a midnight proposal.
I was a long-time admirer of Synonym Art Consultation’s residency program, which took place at The Tallest Poppy, a Jewish diner/hangout in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood.
One night, after a good half hour of browsing SAC’s website like it was a dating site, all I could think was: “I want to do one of those!” And: “But what could I do?”
At that point, I was halfway through the writing of my collection of essays, Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forest, which means I was (and still am!) obsessed with all things arboreal.
And while I was officially working on Treed, I am a serial poetry monogamist, which is to say that I’d published two collections of poetry (Hump and Stowaways) and generally made it my mission in life to convert non-believers to poetry.
At events, I’d shamelessly try to steal prose-writers’ audiences. My favourite thing, afterwards, was to hear people say, “You know, I don’t read poetry usually, but that was really interesting…”
(And yes, if you …
Today we're launching Literatures, Communities, and Learning: Conversations with Indigenous Writers, by Aubrey Jean Hanson, which gathers nine conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how their writing relates to communities.
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
It’s a book of conversations with nine Indigenous writers talking about their work, about why literatures are important for Indigenous communities, and about how writing can have an impact on people’s understandings and interrelationships.
Describe your ideal reader.
Loves to read, is thoughtful about complex politics and histories, gets really into the Canada Reads contest or anything Shelagh Rogers does on CBC radio, is a good listener, always shares what they know with others, and is stepping into more and more community engagement since the TRC’s Calls to Action came out in 2015.
What authors/books is your work in conversation with?
The book itself carries conversations with Tenille Campbell, Warren Cariou, Marilyn Dumont, Daniel Justice, Lee Maracle, Sharron Proulx-Turner, David Robertson, Richard Van Camp, and Katherena Vermette. Beyond the …
Poetry advocate and community builder Vicki Ziegler recently put a call out on Twitter asking readers to share what poetry titles had helped make their literary year, and the response was so great that we wanted to share it. Let's celebrate the poetry splendour of 2019!
Following Sea, by Lauren Carter
About the book: Spanning almost two hundred years, Following Sea finds anchor in the submerged regions of the heart. With great care, Lauren Carter wades into family histories and geography, all the while charting her own territories. Carried by the ebb and flow of language, Carter's second collection explores issues of infertility, identity, and settler migration, offering a tender examination of home. Urgent and intimate, Following Sea leads us along the shoreline of Carter's Manitoulin memories to show us what she has carried up from the depths.
Dunk Tank, by Kayla Czaga
About the book: In the title poem of Kayla Czaga’s sophomore collection, a teenage speaker is suspended between knowledge and experience, confidently hovering there before the w …
December 3 is International Day of Disabled Persons, and we're proud to be marking this day with a recommended reading list by one of CanLit's foremost disability activists, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, whose latest book is the memoir Falling For Myself. An underlying message of this powerful, fierce, and often funny book is the importance of solidarity, allyship, and community, which Palmer celebrates properly here in the collection of authors and books that she's assembled.
One of the things that continually feeds me as a reader is the work of other authors I respect, those who continue to share, collaborate, and produce fabulous, thought-provoking diverse books, often will little thanks. With this list I want to thank and boost the books I loved recently published by those authors who kindly took time from their working days to write a blurb for my memoir, Falling for Myself. They reflect the best of the craft and community of CanLit.
All Inclusive, by Farzana Doctor
About the book: A story about one all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown fat …
Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!
I recently attended a fascinating conference that focused on strengthening neighbourhoods and building community. The workshops brought together many voices, all passionate about the places where they live. There were many opportunities to learn from one another about how to galvanize change in everyone’s own neighbourhood. Storytelling was at the heart of all the sessions, and what struck me the most was the importance of seemingly small individual acts that everyone can do.
Classrooms are also communities where every student is a member and can make a difference. Take a leisurely stroll through these outstanding picture books and non-fiction titles that introduce and celebrate diverse neighbourhoods, and be inspired by stories that show the magic that happens when individuals work together to create positive change and a welcoming community.
In Me, Toma and the Concrete Garden written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Anne Villeneuve, two little boys play an impromptu tossing game with what appears to be worthless balls of dirt and unexpectedly transform a drab grey, empty lot into …
It has finally arrived, and you KNOW what we're talking about. SUMMER! Six perfect letters when laid out like that.
It's time to lay blankets on the grass or to haul out camp chairs and to sit under tents to listen to readings and panels and celebrations of books. It's Literary Festival Season, and good things are happening across the country.
Read on to discover what literary festivals are happening near you.
The Wordplay Festival is back July 3 in River John, NS, at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe & Dreamery, featuring Jessica Scott Kerrin, Arthur Slade, singer-songwriter Anna Plaskett. It's all hosted by amazing emcee Sheree Fitch.
Festival fun continues on July 6 in River John, NS: Read By the Sea 2019 includes authors Elizabeth Hay, Kevin Major, Mayann Francis, Allan Cooper, and Colin Campbell.
Our focus on community continues with this excerpt from parenting expert Ann Douglas's exciting new book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids (and there's an incredible idea, right?). From the book's chapter on the necessity of connecting with community ("finding your village"), Douglas shares tips and advice for parents about the challenges and rewards of online support.
Happy Parents, Happy Kids is out on February 19.
There are times when parenting can feel particularly lonely and isolating, like on days when you're caring round-the-clock for a sick child or are temporarily stuck indoors in the wake of an ice storm. These are times when you badly need support and when that support can feel impossibly far away—unless, of course, you are able to find community online.
Online support is the modern equivalent of the 1970s mom to-mom phone call, during which stay-at-home moms found themselves holding on to the telephone receiver for dear life. In many ways, online support is better than that old-school land line connection, instantly connecting you to the entire world of mothers, or at least those who choose to congregate online. For one thing, there's the 24/7 nature of that support. As Janette, the mother of three young children, explains, "With social m …
This month we're looking at books about community and fostering connection, and Carissa Halton's Little Yellow House is a perfect title to start with. In this collection of candid and thoughtful essays inspired by life in Edmonton's inner-city Alberta Avenue neighbourhood, Halton writes about her friends and neighbours, the community institutions that support them, the challenges of city life, home ownership, raising kids, and the tensions of gentrification. It's an illuminating and hopeful book that asks readers to think again about what makes places liveable, and also provides a wonderful glimpse of Jane Jacobs' proverbial sidewalk ballet.
The first set of kittens Bill ever took in was brought to his attention by a desperate mewing from the blackened garage that slumped behind his six-suite rooming house. The kittens followed Bill to the front of his home where he set them up comfortably under the wooden stairs.
These three kittens were the product of a union between two abandoned cats as they waited patiently for the return of their owners. Bill had noticed the cats’ human family packing up the moving truck and the next day drove away with everything they owned except for their four feline pets lounging on the front porch. They weren’t the only ones aba …