Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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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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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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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


"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: 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.  


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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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? 


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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The Randomizer

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