At this time of year, kids are settling into new routines, battling back to school anxiety, and juggling homework, activities, and so much more. Reading can provide a much-needed moment of zen, a time to wind down and escape. Check out the video here, or read on to find out more:
Picture Books, Ages 3-7
In this laugh-a-minute read-aloud, the author takes a common childhood fear—visiting the hospital—and turns it into a delightful story that kids will want to read again and again. When he needs to get his tonsils removed, poor Leo is dropped off at the animal hospital instead of the regular hospital, but luckily for him the animal medical staff are more than prepared. The story itself is hilarious, but the illustrations have added humour, for example instead of hand sanitizer there is flipper sanitizer, and other twists that kids will love.
Fairies are always popular, and this is a gloriously glittery fairy book, but in a genius twist Ashley Spires has combined fairies with science. Esther’s fairy friends believe everything can be explained by magic, but she believes in science. A clever introduction to the scientific process from the perspective of an inquisitive fairy, who thinks there is something more to fixing a wilting tree than just magic.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family
A must-have picture book co-written by Olympic medalist, activist and writer Ibtihaj Muhammed and award-winning Canadian author S.K. Ali and featuring art from Canadian-based illustrator Hatem Aly. In this beautiful book, a little girl watches her older sister Asiya go to school in a beautiful blue hijab for the first time. The language in the book is poetic and captures a little girl’s admiration for her big sister, and the sweeping art is perfect. Unfortunately, not everyone sees the beauty of Asiya’s hijab- blue as the sky and the ocean- and ultimately both girls learn to not carry around “the hurtful words that others say. Drop them. They are not yours to keep.” Many Canadian children will see themselves and their friends reflected in this beautiful book.
This nonfiction picture book is great for encouraging problem-solving and out-of-the box thinking without feeling like homework. Each page asks the reader, “what animal could you make with…” and then gives a series of unrelated objects. For example, what animal could you make with dinosaur feet, several feather dusters, & three billiard balls? The answer is located under a flap, which provides all sorts of neat facts about the animal. So what DO You get with dinosaur feet, billiard balls and several feather dusters? You’ll have to check out this book to find out!
Middle Grade, Ages 8-12
This is the third installment in a series of illustrated novels about Olga, a scientifically-minded kid who discovers a new species, which she names Olgamuses. The journal format is a popular style, and the spot illustration and comic panels make it an inviting read. Elise Gravel’s background in non-fiction writing is put to good use in this quirky series.
Lots of readers know Kelley Armstrong from her NYT bestselling thrillers, paranormal fantasies, and YA, but this is the first in a new fantasy series for kids age 9-12. Mythology and magical creatures will never go out of style, and Kelly has created a rich world full of adventure in which a girl destined to be Queen ends up being the Royal Monster Slayer instead. Armstrong is a master of plot and pacing, there is a reason readers of all ages love her books!
Hartley is having a hard time at home, so he turns his attention to the mysterious postcards that he keeps finding around town. Each one is numbered and features the initials G.O. This is a quiet mystery and the postcards are beautifully reproduced in the book. A great story about how art can inspire and bring people together.
Fall is the perfect time for ghost stories and this one combines ghosts (both human and animal) with a moving story about grief. Rooted in a Cree world view and drawing loosely on author Allison Mill’s family history, The Ghost Collector is a touching family story with a side of spooky.
YA, Ages 13+
In adult author Brian Francis’ first foray into YA, Toby is thrown for a loop when her absentee father shows up and she learns that a) he’s gay and b) is a world-famous female impersonator. Francis is an excellent character writer and tackles some major mental health issues that will resonate with teens and adults.
Something about the turn of the season makes me want to curl up with a good thriller, and this novel is a classic road-trip-gone-wrong story with plenty of twists and turns that adults and teens will enjoy. Bonus points for the inclusion of an isolated, survivalist community that brings back creepy memories of this summer’s cult classic (literally), Midsommar.