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 dive into new titles, highlighting relevant curriculum links and themes.
Written by secondary school teacher Spencer Miller
Summertime is here! Instead of resting and relaxing, you’re fielding emails from parents looking for advice on how to keep their kids reading this summer.
I’ve got you covered with some advice for parents and six brand new book recommendations. Now go relax!
1. Let them choose
To help share a love of reading, encourage choice. Allow young readers their independence and encourage them to explore and be curious. If they’ve already found something they like, stick with it! Do they want to read nothing but graphic novels? Great! Reread their favourite fantasy series for the twelfth time? Fantastic! All reading is good reading.
Reading should never feel like an assignment. Students may be experiencing frustration from feeling forced to read certain books for school. In this case, it’s even more important that students take the lead this summer by choosing what and when to read.
2. Visit the library
There’s no better feeling than discovering your new favourite book and the best way to do that is to go to the library. Ask a librarian for help, they are the reading experts. Consider joining a summer reading club or set a reading goal or challenge. As a bonus, the library is a great place to be when it’s just too hot outside!
3. Lead by example
While at the library, borrow some books for yourself. Then go home and get caught reading. When kids see their caregivers reading, they are much more likely to pick up a book themselves. Talk about books together and show genuine interest in what your kids are reading. Asking thoughtful questions will help young readers continue building their comprehension and analysis skills.
4. Create a reading ritual
I recently read a tweet about a family with a summer tradition of “Tea, Toast, and Tolkien” where they drink tea, eat toast and listen to the Lord of the Rings. I loved the simple way that they make reading time extra special. This doesn’t have to require anything fancy. For my niece and I, it means throwing all the blankets and pillows into a pile in the living room and getting comfy. The important part is reading together. You could take turns reading aloud or introduce your kids to audiobooks.
5. Get hooked on a series
And finally, one last way to keep kids interested in reading is to start a new series. During a recent appearance on CTV Your Morning, author and literacy champion Vikki VanSickle shared “the best way to keep kids hooked on reading is to find them a series that will have them asking for more.”
So, here is a selection of new and ongoing Canadian book series for young readers!
Lark and her twin brother Connor are back solving mysteries in the latest book in the Lark Ba detective series. In Lark Has The Shivers, the twins split up to solve not one, but two intriguing cases involving missing pets and a haunted house. This amusing series for early readers is carefully written with cleverly planted clues to encourage close reading. The series also thoughtfully portrays how Lark deals with her dyslexia.
Everyone’s favourite young entrepreneur has a new business scheme in mind. In Wednesday Wilson Fixes All Your Problems, Wednesday is determined to wipe away all of her classmates worries with her new idea, a Worry Marble! This early chapter series encourages ingenuity, resourcefulness and fun! The books are inviting to read with short chapters and illustrations, along with lists and helpful definitions of business terms. The series features an expanding diverse cast of BIPOC and disabled characters.
Sueño Bay Adventures is a graphic novel series set in a small village on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest that is home to supernatural creatures. The kids on the island, always getting themselves stuck in a new predicament, learn to use teamwork to solve their problems. In the self-contained third book, Hermit Hill, Sleeves gets a little too bossy with a group moon creatures and needs the help of his friends to return balance to the island. Expressive artwork brings the charming village and creatures to life. Readers will want to return and visit Sueño Bay again soon!
The first book in a new series, The Weird Sisters: A Note, a Goat, and a Casserole, introduces readers to Hildegurp, Yuckmina and Glubbifer, three weird sisters, inspired by the witches in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Looking for a fresh start, the sisters move to a new home in the town of Covenly and open up a pet store. Hoping to ingratiate themselves with the local residents, they are determined to help their first customer, nine-year-old Jessica Nibley, locate her lost pet goat. This whimsical story full of clever wordplay and dynamic illustrations shares important messages about friendship and community.
Secrets of the Sands is an award-winning adventure series for lovers of ancient history and civilizations. Siblings Sesha and Ky navigate temple treachery, travel up the Nile and cross the desert in search of ancient artifacts and rescue missing royals. And they make a few friends along the way. This is a great series to get lost in, full of adventure and page-turning plots that will leave young readers feeling like they traveled back in time. The series recently came to a thrilling conclusion in The Oracle of Avaris.
Starring the loveable (and heoric) West Highland Terrier Harvey, the award-winning series Harvey Stories continues in Harvey Takes the Lead. This story, told from multiple perspectives, shows there’s nothing quite like the loving companionship of a loyal dog. As always, Harvey helps bring the cast of characters together in the end. This series, primarily set in a retirement home, features sweet intergenerational friendships between young Austin and Maggie and the older residents.
Spencer Miller graduated from the University of Calgary with degrees in English and Education. He participated in various projects examining the potential of children’s literature in the classroom as an undergraduate researcher. He is currently a secondary school teacher in Montréal/Tiohtià:ke. You can follow more of Spencer’s passion for books on Instagram @YACanadaBooks.
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