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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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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Great Biographies

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

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Here are some great biographies for Grades 3 to 6, part of both the Reading and Writing curricula.

Book Cover Dennis Lee

Weigl’s Canadian Writers Series is aimed specifically at students writing a biography, and it includes Dennis Lee, Gordon Korman (whose first book was an English assignment, mailed to the Scholastic Arrow Book Club address, at age 12), Jean Little, and Melanie Watt. Each book is organized in a way that students can see how a biography might be structured (e.g., Introduction, School Years, Early Writing, Successes, etc.) and includes writing prompts, creative writing tips from the author, and a quiz. Weigl has other series: Canadian Explorer, Canadian Prime Minister and Aboriginal Biography. These also teach the format of a biography along with a concept web and Internet resources. Grades 4–6.

The Scholastic Canada Biographies, by Maxine Trottier, with various illustrators, does it differently with each book highlighting five figures in each of the f …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Books for Young Readers Preview

And Books for Young Readers is the final instalment of our Fall Preview. Whew! It's all shaping up to be an amazing literary season. Happy reading, everybody. 

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Picture Books 

The Imperfect Garden (September), by Melissa Assay and April dela Noche Milne, celebrates naturally grown food in all its imperfection. Cale Atkinson’s Sir Simon: Super Scarer (September) is a haunted house story with a twist—perfect for Halloween. Timed for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication, Linda Bailey tells the story of its author in Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein (August), illustrated by Julia Sarda. Sloth at the Zoom (August), by Helaine Becker and Orbie, is the story of a sloth trying to make friends in a fast-paced world. Award-winning author-illustrator Rebecca Bender pushes Giraffe and Bird to new heights of courage, ingenuity, and humour in Giraffe and Bird Together Again (November). And Florence and Leon (September), by Simon Boulerice and Delphie Cote-Lacroix, nominated for the 2016 Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration (French), now appears in English translation by Sophie B. Watson.  

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Flight

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

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Take off! These books about flight complement the Grade 6 Science & Technology unit.

The first of the nonfiction titles us Generating Wind Power, by Niki Walker. A pleasure to read and well laid out with photos and text boxes, it covers the gamut: the definition of energy, how wind is harnessed, why wind is a viable alternative to fossil fuel, how wind turbines work, wind farms, the history of harnessing wind (windmills), its drawbacks, and the future of wind power. Includes a timeline and glossary.

In The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start, by Elizabeth MacLeod, well-chosen historical details beautifully animate the Wright Brothers’ story; their close relationship, lack of high school education, money-making schemes growing up. One such business included bicycle repair, resulting in a redesign of the bicycle of the time—small back wheel/large front wheel. (Their same-size tires meant a much easier ride). The reader learns the science of flight th …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Canadian Heritage and Identity

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

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These books support the Grade 6 Social Studies topic of Heritage and Canadian identity. They spotlight communities in Canada, past and present, and the contributions of various ethnic and religious groups to Canadian identity. Interwoven are the concepts of cause/consequence and continuity/change.

Great Lakes and Rugged Ground: Imagining Ontario, by Sarah N. Harvey and Leslie Buffam, illustrated by Kasia Charro, is a must-have. It depicts a changing landscape, in 14 panoramic scenes and 14 playful haikus, encapsulating heritage moments in Ontario. Beginning with the Haudenosaunee in the mid-1500s, this non-fiction picture book shows Europeans meeting First Nations, the Loyalists’ arrival, Laura Secord, the War of 1812, and the influx of Irish workers on the canal system, and in lumber mills. Other topics include the railway, the mining industry, the Group of Seven, women’s role during WWII, and the formation of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There’s also a scavenger hunt at the back for readers to find details in the illustrations.

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13 Picture Books to Fall in Love With This Spring

These gorgeous books will warm your heart, and whoever you're reading them to will like them just as much as you do. 

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Under the Umbrella, by Catherine Buquet, Marion Arbona, and Erin Woods 

About the book: The weather has never been worse. The man with the stormy heart is soaked and he's going to be late! His mood is as black as the sky. Outside a nearby patisserie, a little boy stands under the shelter of its awning, gazing at the beautiful treats on display. When the wind snatches the man's umbrella and drops it at the child's feet, can this hasty curmudgeon slow down long enough for an unlikely friendship to blossom?

Catherine Buquet's touching debut in lyrical rhyme, accompanied by Marion Arbona's bold and stylish illustrations, celebrates intergenerational friendship and the magic of sharing. It also reminds children and adults alike that bright moments can be found on even the gloomiest of days.

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A Horse Named Steve, by Kelly Collier

About the book: “Steve is a fine horse,” begins Kelly Collier's clever picture book. “But he thinks he cou …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Cooperation

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

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What is cooperation? In these recommended titles, it's illustrated by a single character igniting a coordinated effort or a symbiotic relationship in nature. And what happens when competition is chosen over collaboration? These picture books make good springboards for discussion on cooperation and the complexities involved when people work together.

Alma Fullerton and Brian Deines’ In a Cloud of Dust is set in Tanzania, where children often walk a long way to school. One day a pickup truck arrives with the sign "Bicycle Library." There are enough bikes for everyone except Anna, who spends the day encouraging friends with their shaky bike skills. Mohammad offers her a ride on the back of his bike and then lets Anna take it the rest of the way home. "Pick you up in the morning!" she yells.

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In Bone Button Borscht, by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, a beggar awakens a community so poor that folks have closed their doors to neighbours. The …

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