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
I Read Canadian Day is on November 2nd. I Read Canadian Day is a national celebration of Canadian books for young people intended to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.
Each year, young people across Canada are challenged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book for 15 minutes and share their experiences. It’s a great activity for teachers and students to join in together.
Teachers can sign up and register their classes to participate at IReadCanadian.com.
Here are some ideas for how to participate in I Read Canadian Day with your students.
First, find some Canadian books! These could be books written by a Canadian author, illustrated by a Canadian illustrator or published by a Canadian press. I Read Canadian Day is a good reason to visit a local bookstore and support a local author.
If you need help selecting some books, check out my suggestions for 8 picture books perfect for read-aloud, this list of 27 books by Indigenous authors, or keep scrolling for more recommendations.
Introduce the creators of the books you’ve selected. Show pictures or videos so your students can see the diversity of Canadian creators. When students see artists and writers who like them or who are from their communities, it affirms that their stories matter and are worth sharing.
Go beyond reading! Take some time to discuss what you read and allow your students the opportunity to share their experiences. Work together as a class to craft a message to Canadian authors and share it on social media using #IReadCanadian and tagging @IReadCanadian.
Join in on the I Read Canadian celebration livestream starring authors and illustrations from across the country from 11am–2pm.
Lastly, make I Read Canadian Day a launch pad for reading Canadian literature in your classroom all year round. It’s important we support the authors, illustrators, and publishers who are telling stories especially for our students. And our students deserve to read stories written especially for them.
Here is a selection of brand new Canadian books from writers and creators across the country to help your class complete the I Read Canadian challenge!
Revenge Of The Raccoons is a spooky and silly plunge into the world of Toronto’s most (in)famous furry friends. With twisting rhymes and rhythm, this picture book is a whole lot of fun while also taking on the issue of urban sprawl as it asks young readers the question: who’s really stealing from whom?
Introduce your students to more facts about raccoons. What other animals live in your city? Learn more about urban ecology in Chasing Bats and Tracking Rats.
The Three Hunters is a special picture book written by the Grade Four Class of Leo Ussak School. After completing a social studies unit about Inuit traditions, the students were inspired to write their version of “The Three Little Pigs” set in Nunavut.
Guide your students to write their own fairy tale inspired by the place they live. Use The Three Hunters as an example and work together to come up with a new story based on a fairy tale you already know.
Where The Crooked Lighthouse Shines is a collection of fantastical poetry that draws on Newfoundland and Labrador culture and folklore. Made to be read aloud, these rhyming stories will entertain and crack students up while sharing important lessons about navigating the world.
Explore more of Newfoundland culture and folklore through the classic folk song I’s the B’y, now available as a picture book.
Alina In A Pinch is an early reader chapter book with a lesson in acceptance. Moving to Calgary means Alina has to make new friends. While struggling to fit in at school, Alina finds comfort at home, cooking delicious Afro-Indian meals with her Nani. With the help of Nani, Alina learns to embrace her heritage and makes new connections with her classmates.
As Alina learns, food helps bring us together. Invite each of your students to bring in a recipe for one of their family’s favourite foods and create a class cookbook.
For The Record thoughtfully explores the realities of parents’ divorce and addresses the widespread phenomenon of parental alienation. This middle-grade novel follows Justine and her little sister, Bea, as they go back and forth between their parents’ homes in Montreal.
In For The Record, Justine keeps a journal and keeps a detailed record of her daily activities. Challenge your students to keep a journal and write down everything they do in a week. Watch How to Keep a Journal with YA Author Monique Polak.
Weird Rules to Follow takes middle-grade readers back to the 1980s to experience what it was like to grow up in the coastal fishing town of Prince Rupert. For Mia, who is Indigenous, life is very different than her best friend Lara’s.
Watch author Kim Spencer introduce Weird Rules To Follow. Students interested in the history of the Prince Rupert area can learn more in Her Courage Rises: 50 Trailblazing Women of British Columbia & the Yukon.
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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