With the season of gift giving just around the corner, this segment’s list is based on popular activities or hobbies kids might have that might not at first glance have anything to do with books. Whether the kids in your life like lego, hockey, drawing, or video games, here are some books that will be just as engrossing as their favourite hobbies. Check out the segment here, or read on for more!
We are in the thick of hockey season, and these two titles are perfect stocking stuffers for the young hockey addict in your life. More Hockey Trivia For Kids is an illustrated collection of unbelievable and fun facts that even the most obsessed hockey fan may not know. What Is the Stanley Cup is one of many titles in the fantastic non-fiction series Who HQ, which is a collection of bite-sized books that explain the who, what, and where of kid-friendly subjects.
The for the kid who would rather be building forts or playing with Legos, I recommend Canadian illustrator Kim Smith’s first authored book, Boxitects. This picture book celebrates young builders and makers. A young boxitect goes to maker school and finds herself competing with other talented makers. The creations they make are amazing and will inspire kids to get building, and in fact in the back of the book there are plans and suggestions for how to build with boxes.
For younger history buffs, Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat who Went to War is a fantastic true animal story for ages 3-7. Billy the goat goes from the prairies to the front lines and along the way has unbelievable adventures, including be smuggled to the front lines in a box of oranges, eating secret documents and being put in jail for treason, and eventually being awarded a medal for bravery. Goats are always entertaining, and Kass Reich’s illustrations are irresistible.
For slightly older kids, Killer Style is a fascinating compendium of the many ways fashion has maimed, injured and even killed throughout history. It touches on subjects including the dangers of corsets, poisonous dyes, and dangerous work conditions. Some parents may shy away from what seems like dark or gruesome content, but kids are fascinated by the darker parts of history and there is no safer place for them to learn more than in a book. If it’s something they are interested in, I say go for it.
The climate crisis looms large in the minds of kids these days, as demonstrated by the massive success of the Fridays for Future student strikes. Nibi’s Water Song is about a young girl in an Indigenous community who notices that their water is dirty and so she starts her own campaign to raise awareness. This book, written and illustrated by two Indigenous creators, puts a local, Canadian face on the crisis and inspires kids to stand up for their communities and the environment.
For emerging writers, Polly Diamond and the Magic Book is a funny and charming chapter book for kids age 6-9 that celebrates the imagination and a young writer. Polly loves words and author Alice Kuipers has a great time explaining writing concepts and also providing ideas that will help kids start their own book. For teen readers, We Contain Multitudes by Governor-General award-winning author Sarah Henstra is a passionate love story between two teen boys that begins as a letter writing assignment and develops into something more. This YA novel is a celebration of love, the written word, particularly poetry and Walt Whitman, and is just beautiful to read.
For budding artists, It Began With a Page is a gorgeous picture book biography of Gyo Fugikawa a Japanese American artist who worked for Disney as a young woman, but is perhaps most well known for being the first picture book creator to include children from different races in a single image. Her story is groundbreaking and inspiring, and author Kyo Maclear provides lots of insight into Gyo as a young artist that kids can relate to.
For kids who love to cook, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao is a great family story about persistence with bright, boisterous illustrations. Young chefs will understand Amy’s frustration when her bao do not turn out as perfectly as she hoped. Plus bonus recipe! Frankie’s Favorite Food is the opposite of a picky eater story, this is a picture book about a kid who loves food so much that he cannot pick just one to dress up as for a classroom production about food. The artwork features kids dressed up as food from all cultures, which is both adorable and creative, and may give you a few ideas for next Halloween.
And finally, for kids who cannot get enough of zombies and video games, Pickles vs the Zombies is a great read for 9-12 year olds about a zombie apocalypse as experienced by a couple of house cats and a raccoon. Like any good video game, the story is fast-paced, has lots of surprises and a little bit of gore, but it’s all balanced with humour and a surprising amount of sweetness.
Happy reading! xo