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Sparking Conversation in the Classroom: The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington

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!

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Reviewing The Big Dig

The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington is the perfect young adult novel to spark meaningful discussions on a variety of topics. Teachers are familiar with the difficulties that students face when they have to move and change schools. This story can help ease the transition as readers can relate to the main character, who is faced with the challenge of making new friends and adapting to a new community. Each of the three main characters is unique in their own way. Although their personalities would seem to naturally clash, they accept each other’s differences and forge a very strong friendship.

It’s 1977, and shortly after dealing with the loss of her mother, Lucy is sent by her father to live with her Great-Aunt Josie for the summer. There, she meets two friends, Colin and Kit, and they create everlasting friendships. Together, they attempt to help Lucy uncover the truth she is seeking.

Harrington does a fantastic job of bringing the reader into Lucy’s head. As the reader follows fourteen year-old Lucy to Nova Scotia for summer break, the author makes you feel as if you are with her, every step of the way. Each page contains elements that are described in such detail that you feel as though you can smell, hear, and taste (even Josie’s poor …

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Leading Students on a Path of Self-Discovery: Sadia by Colleen Nelson

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!

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Reviewing Sadia

As a fifteen-year-old adjusting to life in high school, Sadia begins to realize that growing up in Winnipeg brings many challenges. Balancing school work, extra-curriculars, and relationships, all while trying to discover yourself is a daunting task. Sadia faces pressure from her family, peers, and herself, while trying to figure out where she fits in.

When the new school year begins, Sadia’s best friend has started de-jabbing. This poses a real dilemma for Sadia as she has difficulty understanding why her friend would all of a sudden start lying to her parents.

This novel can serve as inspiration for many of our students. Living in a multicultural society means accepting everyone for who they are. Traditional rules need to be adjusted, and Sadia’s story serves as a prime example. She loves to play basketball and is a vital member of her school team. At an annual tournament, some of the opposing teams take issue with a piece of Sadia’s clothing — her hijab. Just when she thinks there is no hope, Sadia receives inspiration from an unlikely source.

Curriculum Connections

During the sto …

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Notes From a Children's Librarian: On Empathy

Book Cover Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge

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

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“No matter what you see or hear/ One thing is always true: Each one without a house and home/ Was once a child like you.” This is the line that jumps out in Tim Huff's book, The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge. This simple, rhyming picture book was written as a response to the author's own young children asking about homeless people. For Grade 1 and up, it humanizes those in sleeping bags on a sewer grates, and each page has accompanying thought-provoking discussion questions.

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Book Cover We Want You to Know

Deborah Ellis's non-fiction collection of interviews from around the globe, We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying, similarly demands empathy from the reader. I was disheartened to read kids recount their suffering (often for years) at the hands of bullies and how sometimes teachers hadn't done enough. Then, in the final chapter, one of the bullies, Len, age 15, says, “If I’d known what they were inside, what they did when they weren’t at school, what they we …

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