With kids out of class and parents suddenly finding themselves juggling working from home and managing their kids’ education, now is a good time for comfort reading. Remember that you are not your child’s teacher, the most important thing you can do for your kids is establish routine, provide comfort, and keep them entertained. With that in mind, here is my full list of titles, only some of which made the live segment this morning.
Picture Books, Ages 3-7
You can’t go wrong with a unicorn book, and Canadian author-illustrator Jessika von Innerebner includes lots of sparkles, bright colours, and glittery trappings on unicorn life. But this book is not just a unicorn story, it’s about having a bad day, and how it’s okay to have bad days. We are living in stressful times and kids an adults are going to have a few bad days, maybe even a few more than usual. This is a great reminder that everyone feels this way sometimes. Find some great Kevin crafts and activities here.
I’m sure lots of parents have heard the words, ‘I’m bored,’ or are doing whatever they can to avoid hearing those words right now. Michael Ian Black’s book, illustrated by Canadian Debbie Ohi, explores ways to defeat boredom and how to engage the imagination.
This is just one of Debbie’s many books, all of which are funny, fantastic readalouds, and have extra resources. Debbie has a ton of online resources, including colouring sheets, activities, and videos of herself reading or giving drawing tutorials.
In Studio, kids get to look inside different studio spaces to see where art is made. The illustrations from Little Friends of Printmakers have a very Richard Scarry feel, and the message, that any space can be a studio, and all you need to make art is a place to do it, is something that parents can act on right away. Choose a place in your house to be the studio, and draw, sing, put on a play, do whatever you like!.
Emily Arrow is a children’s performer and the creator of Storytime Sing-a-long. Check out her website or join her for At Home With Emily Arrow Live on YouTube Monday-Fridays at 1pm EST. She has a unique blend of books, music, and mindfulness that has earned her many devoted fans.
This is a magical story about another world where everything has hair: the trees, the houses, even the butterflies. The illustrations are so rich and magical they will inspire kids to create their own worlds through art or writing. Or, after reading the book, maybe you spend some time creating interesting hair-dos and host an at-home wacky hair day. Canadian author-illustrator Esme Shapiro is very active on Instagram, posting readings and art prompts.
This story is about a young Syrian refugee who wants to cheer her mother up by cooking her a familiar dish. Author Danny Ramadan draws on his own experiences as a Syrian refugee to Canada and now advocate for refugees to create a warm and hopeful portrait of the refugee experience. This celebration of food and community has a lot of heart, and is a good reminder that we can get though tough things with the support of friends and family. Right now, a lot of people are cooking with their children, so why not try a new dish?
This book, along with many others, is being featured in the Festival of Literary Diversity’s #FoldKidsAcademy, a series of free webinars happening with Canadian authors and illustrations from diverse backgrounds all this week online. More info about this reading series here.
Chapter Books, Ages 6-9
It’s a great time to get into series books. This is the first chapter book in a really sweet and funny series about a boy who moves into a new house and finds a talking bat in the attic. The third book is out in one more week.
Megabat is also nominated for the Silver Birch Express award, which is a children’s choice award. The Forest of Reading program has great resources and author videos and Q&As that are now open to the public. You can find those resources here.
Middle Grade, Ages 9-12
Another fun series you can start is Jess Keating’s Elements of Genius books, featuring Nikki Tesla and her “famous” friends. In this middle grade series, the author imagines a school for geniuses in which famous figures from history- Albert Einstein, Mary Shelley, Nikola Tesla- are re-imagined and attend as kids. Lots of zany plot-twists and hijinx ensue!
Visit Jess’ website here for activities, resources, and video for this series as well as for her very popular non-fiction picture books.
This is really funny series that kicks off after a monster apocalypse and follows the adventures of the so-called ‘last kids on earth,’ as they outfit their treehouse to be an impenetrable fortress, collect supplies. and of course, fight monsters. There are five books in the series, with a new book spin-off book coming in April, so you are guaranteed some quality binge-reading. Find resources, quizzes, and lots of entertaining extra content here.
Bonus! Check out the animated TV series on Netflix and host a family “read it before you see it” book club.
YA + Family Readalouds
Now is a good time to rediscover classics and old favourites. And while I am a huge Anne of Green Gables fan, one of my favourite L.M. Montgomery classics is The Blue Castle. This is a great romance and almost feels like a Jane Austen novel, with the prolonged courtship, family politics, and witty banter. It’s set in the Muskoka region on Ontario and it’s dreamy, summery setting provides a welcome escape. This is a clean read, so it would also make a good family readaloud.
With short sections and lots of personality, this would make a great family read-aloud. In a world that feels much like contemporary Canada- except with dragons!- teenage musician Siobhan has decided that she will be the bard for her local dragon slayer, Owen- also a teenager. This ensemble piece has the clever snarkiness of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a really simple but ingenious concept, and it’s set in Canada, with lots of Canadian references.
Check your local bookstore to see if they are taking online/phone orders. Start with this list here. Many indies are still working to get books to you! Indigo.ca is also offering free shipping and lots of book deals for kids and adults.