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Six New Kids' Books with LGBTQ+ Characters & Themes

Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

When I was an education student I was invited to visit with the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at the high school where I was student teaching. This generous group of students was kind enough to let me ask them questions about how I could be an ally as a new teacher. They were eager to share their perspectives and ideas.

When I asked the group if any of them had ever studied a book with LGBTQ+ characters in Language Arts class, I could see the disappointment in their faces. The tone of the conversation shifted as many of the students shared feeling left out or ignored when it came to classroom study.

There are LGBTQ+ students in every one of our classrooms and there are LGBTQ+ people in the lives of every …

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Books that Inspire Students to Overcome Adversity

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Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Spencer_medium_medium

Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

School has always been a challenging experience but for the last two years school has been an ordeal! While adjusting to the new realities of masks, online learning, and cancelled activities, our students are still passing through the difficulties of growing up, forming relationships, and discovering themselves. 

I can see that my students are struggling, but I don’t always know how to help. I’ve found that some of the best comfort, advice, and encouragement can be found in the books we read.

One of the most helpful things we can do when facing a challenge is talk about it. When we talk about the struggles we’re going through, we learn we’re not alone. Books can help start the conversation. Read …

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Six New Graphic Novels That Teach Historical Events

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Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Spencer_medium

Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

During my first year of teaching, I stepped in part-way through the semester into the room of a lively bunch of ninth graders. Overwhelmed and not sure where to start, I brought out a favourite graphic novel and projected it on the screen. It caught my students’ attention and ever since graphic novels have been a beloved teaching tool in my classroom.

Graphic novels are awesome for the way they build visual literacy skills, engaging more of our brains to connect images and words. Visual supports can aid struggling readers, English language learners, and students with some learning disabilities. Reading graphic novels brings excitement into the room and engages even my most reluctant readers.

One popu …

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All About STEM Books + Classroom Ideas

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Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Spencer_medium

Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

Recently, I was asked to substitute for an awesome STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teacher. When I entered their classroom I was excited to see a selection of books prominently displayed at the front of the room. Each book covered a different topic in STEM and had a little label “What I just read”, “What I’m reading” and “What I’m reading next”. This simple three-book display said a lot. It told me (and the students in the room) that this STEM teacher loves the subjects they teach and is always looking to learn more. It told me they love to read books and that if I wanted to learn more about a scientific concept, I should read about it!

This is just one way that …

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New Picture Books + Classroom Ideas

Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

You are never too old for picture books. I found a renewed interest in picture books while taking a course in children’s literature at university. As I applied what I was learning about literary theory and close reading to my study of picture books, I realized there was a depth to books for children that I had been overlooking.

The storytellers behind picture books are extremely talented. Authors learn to write with high efficiency, using fewer words to tell their stories. They develop rhythm and acoustics, utilizing sound devices to ensure books are equally enjoyable when read aloud. They work in tandem with illustrators to enhance their storytelling through visual elements. Speaking the language of children, these authors and illustrators explore complicated emotions and ideas in ways that allow even the youngest readers to learn.

Picture books are valuable resources for engaging readers of all ages. As a second …

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Reading for Reconciliation

Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller
 
Today, we are celebrating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for the first time. This is a day to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools and make a renewed commitment to the reconciliation process. We can use this day to start a conversation in our classrooms that lasts all year long.

Books are a powerful tool for teaching towards reconciliation. Guided by the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, teachers should seek out learning resources that teach about treaties, the legacy of residential schools and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada. Teachers should make sure to include books that celebrate Indigenous cultures, including languages, arts, medicines, storytelling, and ways of living on the land.

Being a non-Indigenous educator, I have a responsibility to bring Indigenous voices, perspectives, and ways of teaching an …

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Building a Classroom Library

Welcome to Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

Every teacher should have a classroom library, regardless of what subject they teach. Every classroom benefits from books, and all teachers can support literacy development by giving students time to read in their class.

In my class, reading time is a reward. We read to take a break. We read when we finish early. We try to read every day! Whatever age group or subject you teach, imagine the kind of reading and the kind of books that fit best in your classroom.

I look to fill my classroom library with books my students will benefit from exploring on their own. I search for culturally relevant books, books my students can connect with that feature characters of similar ages and similar experiences. I make sure to include various Canadian books from authors with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.

I’m also a strong believer in letting my students make their own reading choices. I watch the way my students sel …

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Inclusive Learning, Diverse Books: Introducing Top Grade 2021

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Welcome to the Association for Canadian Publishers’ Top Grade: CanLit for the Classroom, a blog and preview video series that features new releases from Canadian book publishers ideal for use in K-12 classrooms and school library collections. Throughout the year, we will dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.

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Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller

I never grew out of the books I read as a child, spending my time at university reading, researching and writing about all the books I loved growing up. During my studies of Children’s and Young Adult literature, I had the chance to learn from experts, educators, authors, and young readers across the country about what makes books for kids so special. After graduating last spring, I moved to Montréal to complete my first full year as a secondary teacher. Through all the ups and downs of Covid, one thing remained constant for me and my students: our love of stories. Stories carried us through this difficult year and on to meaningful learning.

I am always reading with my students in mind. Each time I open a new book, I consider how the story could be potentially life changing for a young person. Throughout this year, I will be sharing new titles from Canadian writers tha …

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