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CanLit's Favourite Cakes

Today is Family Literacy Day, a national event that annually celebrates the importance of families engaging in literacy activities together, sharpening skills and building relationships. Literacy activities including reading picture books together—and baking from recipes! Which leads to even deepening relationships as families eat cake together. Picture book cakes, no less!

Of course CanLit's all-time favourite cakes would include the one from Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman (nom nom), or the cake that Rilla, in abject humiliation, had to carry across town in Rilla of Ingleside.

But in the spirit of Family Literacy, we're sticking to our favourite cakes from picture books. With links to recipes, even. Enjoy!

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Sleeping Dragons All Around, by Sheree Fitch and Michele Nidenoff

About the book: Sheree Fitch has read this book to audiences from sea to sea to sea in Canada, in the Himalayas, and along the eastern coast of Africa. Her first two books, Toes in My Nose and Sleeping Dragons All Around, launched her career as a poet, rhymster, and a "kind of Canadian female Dr. Seuss." Fitch has won almost every major award for Canadian children's literature since then, including the 2000 Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work Inspirational to Canadian Children. She h …

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Amazing Kids' Books for Family Literacy Day

"Forgive me for giving you a list when you only asked for one book..." wrote Andrea Curtis in her response to our request for her to share her family's favourite children's book title in honour of Family Literacy Day, which happens on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in literacy-related activities as a family. Of course, we never consider more books than we asked for a problem at 49th Shelf, so Curtis is forgiven, as were her colleagues who also could not narrow down their favourites to less than a handful. What follows is a list of some of Canada's most beloved children's books, as selected by authors with exciting new books just out or coming up on the horizon. 

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Andrea Curtis's Picks 

The Liszts, by Kyo Maclear

About the book: The Liszts make lists. They make lists most usual and lists most unusual. They make lists in winter, spring, summer and fall. They make lists every day except Sundays, which are listless. Mama Liszt, Papa Liszt, Winifred, Edward, Frederick and Grandpa make lists all day long. So does their cat. Then one day a visitor arrives. He's not on anyone's list. Will the Liszts be able to make room on their lists for this new visitor? How will they handle something unexpected arising? Kyo Maclear's quirky, whims …

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Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Picture Books

Every year on January 27, Canadians celebrate Family Literacy Day, an initiative to affirm the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And while the benefits to children of exposure to books and literacy are well-documented, less sung is just how much wisdom an adult reader can garner from children's literature. These books are not just for the kids, and they've affirm to me some of the most important lessons I've learned in my life. We all get a lot out of returning to these stories again and again. 

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On diversity:  

 

We all count. 

From We All Count, by Julie Flett: We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is the 2014 board book from Native Northwest featuring the artwork of Cree/Métis artist Julie Flett. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, this bilingual board book introduces Plains Cree (y-dialect) and Swampy Cree (n-dialect) written in Roman orthography. Artist and author has a simple graphic style using bold and clear text to introduce counting with appropriate cultural images from contemporary Cree society. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Cree and English using authentic Cree imagery.

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Picture Books We've Read to Pieces

Pile of Picture Books

Family Literacy Day comes each year on January 27, a national initiative spearheaded by the non-profit ABC Life Literacy Canada to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And this year to mark the occasion, we're thinking about the picture books we've read to pieces, sometimes quite literally—see the photo above. The books we never tire of, the ones we've read a million times, from the time our kids were babies, and now they're reading alongside us. Although who are we kidding? Nobody's reading. All of us know these stories off by heart.

These are the books that my family has loved until their bindings broke. What are some of yours? 

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Book Cover Extra Yarn

Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

We love everything illustrated by Jon Klassen, from his Governor General's Award-winning Cat's Night Out (with Caroline Stutson) to his Caldecott-winning creation This is Not My Hat. But if pressed, I'd choose Extra Yarn as my favourite, because of its amazing subversive protagonist and her amazing year-bomb …

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Family Literacy Day: 8 Great Books for Boys

Boy Reading

This year for Family Literacy Day, we're turning things over to an expert. Nathalie Foy, of the 4 Mothers Blog, knows books and she knows boys, and her life is rich with both of them. In this list, she recommends great reads for boys of a wide range of ages. And even better: there's no reason a boy's sister won't love these books too. Which is perfect when the very point is families reading together.  

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One of my greatest joys as a parent is to see my boys with their noses deep into a book or to hear them plead for time to read just one more chapter, one more page, one more word. We are a family of bibliophiles, and I cultivate the love of books in every way that I can. I do not take it as a foregone conclusion that boys would almost always rather do anything but read, or that books are made for boys or girls, or that boys only want to read about boys, or that you have to bribe a boy to sit down with a book, or that you have to settle for less in the literary quality department if you want to match a boy to a book. I refuse to read aloud a book that I will not enjoy myself, and I will not buy books that do not have lasting value. What the boys borrow from the library is entirely up to them, as is what they read in class at school. Between us, we manage to cove …

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Great Books for Family Literacy Day (or "Why I Censor Our Bedtime Reading")

Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. For more information about Family Literacy Day and related events, check out the website here

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"I don't believe in censorship, but" is not a promising start to anything, I know, but I hope you will bear with me. I practice censorship with our family's bedtime reading not for reasons concerning books that raise difficult questions, issues of morality, or hints of darkness (and in fact, these are usually the kind of books I love best), but because I want to enjoy our family's story time just as much as my children do, and because, as one of the two members of our family with the skills to read aloud, I reserve the right to refuse to read any book I don't like. Or at least the right not to read it more than once...

Because reading together should be good for everyone. And because a parent or caregiver who genuinely loves the books she is reading is going to do a far more convincing job of both conveying the pleasures of literacy, and making reading together a priority. 

So aren't we fortunate then that there are so many great Canadian picture books that I love as much as my children do? At our house, the need for Mother-censorship rarely arises. The following are books that all of us love, books that make our story-times such pleasure, bo …

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Family Literacy Day: Joyce Grant's Tips on Raising a Reader (Guest Post)

Image From Gabby (Jan Dolby)

You don’t have to convince most parents of the benefits of reading.

However, lots of people are frustrated in their efforts to get their kids to read—and to enjoy reading. Or to keep reading. Or to read more challenging material.

About 20 years ago I became a literacy advocate. I was a freelance journalist and I passionately believed that kids who love to read are better able to discover, explore, grow as an individual and find solace or adventure or fun. Reading is vital.

I joined the Trent Valley Literacy Association, a wonderful organization in Peterborough ON that helps people learn to read. I became a literacy tutor and eventually served as president of the organization.

When my son was about three years old, I realized that he was already reading signs and even newspaper headlines. People would ask me, “Did he really just read that big word?”

Yep, he did.

But why was my son reading at age three, when so many other kids were starting much later? Sure, a lot of it was probably just his personality. But I couldn’t help wondering if there was something we—as a “reading family”—might be doing as a matter of course that might be planting the seeds of literacy. I was searching for some kind of “holy grail” of literacy. Something that parents could …

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Celebrate Family Literacy Day

Family Reading Together

Once again, community events are scheduled across Canada to celebrate Family Literacy Day on January 27th-- you can check out the map to find events in your area. Family Literacy Day has been an initiative since 1999 by the non-profit organization ABC Life Literacy Canada to raise awareness of the importance of families reading and engaging with literacy-related activities together. Research shows that children benefit enormously from early exposure to books and reading in the home, though most families read together because it's simply one of the very best ways to be together. And it's made even better when you're reading the very best books, so we wanted to pass on our favourite expert-curated family literacy books lists.

Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Book Centre Award Nominees: The books on this list were nominated for Canada's top children's book prizes last year, and include the literary rendering of Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Kyo Maclear's Spork, and the Victorian-era detective novel A Spy in the House. The Canadian Children's Book Centre is a non-profit …

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