Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Big Reader

A Taster: Spring 2021 Nonfiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

Life stories, family, baseball, and retreat. These highlight the nonfiction we're most looking forward to this spring. 

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ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

ICYMI: Don't Miss These Beauties

By Kiley Turner

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our attention spans, making it possible to miss really great fiction. These books caug …

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Book Cover Small Courage

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

By Jane Byers

A recommended reading list by Jane Byers, whose new queer parenting memoir is out now.

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The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

The Chat with Kimiko Tobimatsu

By Trevor Corkum

Author Kimiko Tobimatsu and illustrator Keet Geniza have teamed up to create Kimiko Does Cancer, a timely graphic memoir …

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Book Cover Best Canadian Poetry 2020

A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

By Marilyn Dumont

An excerpt from Marilyn Dumont's introduction to BEST CANADIAN POETRY 2020.

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Book Cover Book of Donair

The Donair: Canada's Official Food?

By Lindsay Wickstrom

Excerpt from BOOK OF DONAIR explores how a bitter rivalry between Halifax and Edmonton helped propel the donair to be de …

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Book Cover My Ocean is Blue

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Questions, Questions

By Julie Booker

Great picture books that engage with questions and encourage readers to think about answers.

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Book Cover Gutter Child

Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Exciting debuts, and new releases by Christy Ann Conlin, Pasha Malla, Eva Stachniak, Jael Richardson, and more.

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Book Cover Better Luck Next Time

Patriarchy Lies: Women Are Funny

By Kate Hilton

A funny woman reading list by the author of new novel Better Luck Next Time.

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 The Chat with Eve Lazarus

The Chat with Eve Lazarus

By Trevor Corkum

Eve Lazarus has drawn back the curtain on some of Vancouver’s secret places. Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City …

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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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Launchpad: Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Grandmother School, by Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney, which comes highly recommended from CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Their reviewer writes, "How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap."

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Book Cover Grandmother School

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence:

Rina Singh and Ellen Rooney: It's a story about grandmothers in a village in India who go to school for the first time in their lives.

Describe your ideal reader.

Rina Singh: A six or a seven year old who will …

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The Canadian Children's Book Centre

CCBC Logo

The Canadian Children's Book Centre caters to an enormous demographic:"If you love children's books, you've come to the right place!" announces the tagline on their website. The non-profit organization has been long beloved for establishing connections between teachers and librarians, authors and illustrators, and publishers, and providing these groups with valuable resources.They're the force behind TD Canadian Children's Book Week, and several notable children's book awards. Lesser-known, however, is the support CCBC offers parents and other caregivers in connecting children with books and literacy activities that will awaken them to the joys of reading.

According to the CCBC, "The recipe for creating a life-long reader is wonderfully simple." That recipe involves the following four steps for parents: "Read-- Make books and reading a part of your children’s lives right from the start. And set aside regular time to read to your children from infancy to adolescence. Lead the Way-- Make regular visits to your local library and bookstore to help your children find the best books available. And Set an Example-- When children see adults enjoying a good book, they get a very important message – you never outgrow books!"

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