Category Archives: children

The ABC of Poetry Books

Poetry is one of my favourite genres.
Poetry can be rhyming but it doesn’t need to be! Alliteration is one of the oldest forms of poetry and gives stories and songs its rhythmic flow. Poetry is perhaps the best form of story to read aloud, to share at bedtime or any time. Poetry can instil a life long love of language in a child, so use it often regardless of which language you speak.

Here is a list of some of my favourites. As always, the hardest thing is to limit it! There are so many wonderful poets, so many beautiful, funny, touching books! Enjoy sharing these with your favourite reader, or curled up by yourself:

African Acrostics, Avis Harley and Deborah Noyes
Barn Dance, Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault
Canoe Days, Gary Paulsen 
Dinosaurs, Lee Bennett Hopkins
Edward The Emu, Sheena Knowles
Falling Up, Shel Silverstein
Good Night, Sweet Pig, Linda Bailey 
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, Dr. Seuss + Jack Prelutsky
I Did It Because, How A Poem Happens, Loris Lesynski
(The) Jolly Postman, Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Keep A Poem in Your Pocket, collected by J. Patrick Lewis
(The) Little Blue Truck, Alice Schertle
Mabel Murple, Sheree Fitch
North Country Night, Daniel San Souci
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
Pearl Versus The World, Sally Murphy 
Quiet as a Cricket, Audrey and Don Wood
In the Red Canoe, Leslie A. Davidson
Sleeping Dragons All Around, Sheree Fitch 
There’s A Wocket in My Pocket, Dr. Seuss
yoU Nest Here With Me, Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple
Valentine Hearts, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
(The) Waterhole, Graeme Base
eXtra Innings, Baseball Poems, Lee Bennett Hopkins
Yertle The Turtle and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss
Zombies! Evacuate The School, Sara Holbrook

150 Canadian Books for Children

July 1, 2017.
Canada Day. 
150 years. My Canada Birthday gift to you is this list of Canadian books for children.
It is not a scientific collection. These are simply books about Canada or great
books by Canadian creators, books that I have enjoyed, that stayed with me.
mostly chose them for their ‘wow factor’. It would have been easier if I had not
limited the number of books by the same author. 
I included classics as well as brand new releases, picturebooks, novels etc. 
I wanted this to be truly Canadian books so I didn’t include favorites titles like The
Totem Tale because it is American. I didn’t use such Canadian icons as Love You
Forever by Robert Munsch but did include a book called With A Silent
Companion which is a fascinating Canadian story. These are all simply books
that I have loved. I’m sure there are many more but I haven’t read them yet…
Hope you will find a local bookstore or library near you to check out these books.
If all else fails, order them from
Happy Birthday, Canada. And Happy Reading! 

A Canadian Wildlife Poem, Max Elliott
A Day of Signs and Wonders, Kit Pearson
A Dog Came, Too, Ainslie Manson
A Family is A Family is A Family, Sara O’Leary
A Harbour Seal in Halifax, Doretta Groenendijk
A Mountain Alphabet, Margriet Ruurs & Andrew Kiss
A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, Helaine Becker
A Prairie Alphabet, Jo Bannantyne & Yvette Moore
A Salmon for Simon, Betty Waterton
A Thousand Shades of Blue, Robin Stevenson
A Tree in a Forest, Jan Thornhill
ABC of Canada, Kim Bellefontaine & Per-Henrik Gürth
Adrift At Sea, Marsha Skrypuch
Alice, I Think, Susan Juby
Amos’ Sweater, Janet Lunn
Ankylosaur Attack, Daniel Loxton
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
Aska’s Animals, Warabé Aska and David Day
Baby Beluga, Raffi
Bagels from Benny, Aubrey Davis
Belle of Batoche, Jacqueline Guest
Beneath Raven Moon, David Bouchard
Birdfeeder Banquet, Michael Marchenko
Boy Soup, Loris Lesynski
Canada Votes: How We Elect Our Government, Linda Granfield & Craig Terlson
Canadian Mysteries Series, Eric Wilson
Carson Crosses Canada, Linda Bailey & Kass Reich
Charlie: A Home Child’s Life in Canada, Beryl Young
Coming to Canada: Building a Life in a New Land, Susan Hughes
Counting on Hope, Sylvia Olsen
Dear Canada: A Time for Giving: Ten Tales of Christmas, Jean Little & Sarah Ellis
Death Benefits, Sarah Harvey
Deep Roots, Nikki Tate
Dream Boats, Dan Bar-el & Kirsti Anne Wakelin
Every Last Drop, Michelle Mulder
Everything on A Waffle, Polly Horvath
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick
Fishing with Grandma, Susan Avingaq
Follow the Elephant, Beryl Young
Franklin the Turtle, Paulette Bourgeois
French Toast, Kari-Lynn Winters
From Far and Wide, Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet
From Far Away, Robert Munsch
Garbage Delight, Dennis Lee
Gifts, Jo Ellen Bogart & Barbara Reid
Going for a Sea Bath, Andrée Poulin
Gubby Builds A Boat, Gary Kent & Kim La Fave
Hanna’s Suitcase, Karen Levine
Hannah and the Salish Sea, Carol Anne Shaw
Hello Humpback, Roy Henry Vickers
How Smudge Came, Nan Gregory
I Am Canada, illustrated by Barbara Reid
I Live in the North, Margriet Ruurs
I’ll Be Watching, Pamela Porter
If The World Were A Village, David Smith
Imagine A World, Rob Gonsalves
In Flanders Fields, Linda Granfield
Jeremiah Learns to Read, Jo Ellen Bogart
Let’s Play A Hockey Game, Kari-Lynn Winters
Log Jam, Monica Hughes
Loonies and Twoonies: A Canadian Number Book, Mike Ulmer & Melanie Rose
Maggie’s Chopsticks, Alan Woo
Maps and Mapping for Canadian Kids, Laura Peetoom
Mary Ann Alice, Brian Doyle
Mary of Mile 18, Ann Blades
Missing Nimâmâ, Melanie Florence
Mister Got to Go, Lois Simmie & Cyntia Nugent
Moon At Nine, Deborah Ellis
My Arctic 1, 2, 3, Michael Kusugak & Vladyana Krykora
No Fixed Address, Maureen Bayless
No More Dead Dogs, Gordon Korman
No Safe Harbour, Julie Lawson
No Signature, William Bell
No Two Snowflakes, Sheree Fitch & Janet Wilson
North West Passage, Stan Rogers
Northern Exposures, Eric Walters
Now You Know Canada, Doug Lennox
Nowhere Else on Earth, Caitlyn Vernon
O Canada, Per-Henrik Gurth
O Canada, Ted Harrison
Oma’s Quilt, Paulette Bourgeois
Once Upon A Golden Apple, Maggie deVries, Jean Little & Phoebe Gilman
Once Upon A Northern Night, Jean Pendziwol & Isabelle Arsenault
One Hen, Katie Smith Milway
One is Canada, Maxine Trottier
Our Flag: The Story of Canada’s Maple Leaf, Ann-Maureen Owens, Jane Yealland
Pick-Up Sticks, Sarah Ellis
Pier 21, Anne Renaud
Pippin the Christmas Pig, Jean Little
Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper, Tololwa Mollel & Barbara Spurll
Roses for Gita, Rachna Gilmore
Salmon Forest, Sarah Ellis & David Suzuki
Saskatchewan, Gillian Richardson
Sea Otter Pup, Victoria Miles
Sea Stars: Salt Water Poems, Avis Harley
Secret of the Dance, Andrea Spalding, Alfred Scow & Darlene Gait
Seeking Refuge, Irene Watts
Selina and the Bearpaw Quilt, Barbara Smucker & Janet Wilson
Silverwing, Kenneth Oppel
Siwiti, A Whale’s Story, Alexandra Morton
Sleeping Dragons All Around, Sheree Fitch
Snow Day, Werner Zimmerman
Sockey Salmon Odyssey, Brenda Guiled
Something From Nothing, Phoebe Gilman
Sophie Sea to Sea, Norma Charles
Stella, Queen of Snow, Marie Louise Gay
Stolen Words, Melanie Florence and Gabrielle Grimard
Stories of the Aurora, Joan Marie Galat
Surviving Sam, Karen Rivers
Thank You, Canada, Andrea Lynn Beck
The Artist and Me, Shane Peacock
The Best Goalie Ever, Gilles Tibo
The Bite of the Mango, Mariatu Kamara
The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis
The Darkest Dark, Chris Hadfield & Kate Fillion
The Doll, Cora Taylor
The Fabulous Song, Don Gilmore
The Freedom of Jenny, Julie Burtinshaw
The Girl Who Hates Books, Manjusha Pawagi
The Girl Who Writes, Richard Cole & Jane Watt
The Hockey Sweater, Roch Carrier
The Inuksuk Book, Mary Wallace
The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration, Ann-Maureen Owens & Jane Yealland
The Kids Book of Canadian Geography, Briony Penn
The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration, Deborah Hodge & John Mantha
The Little Crooked Christmas Tree, Michael Cutting; Ron Broda
The Loon’s Necklace, Elizabeth Cleaver
The Man With the Violin, Kathy Stinson
The Middle of Everywhere, Monique Polak
The Moccasin Goalie, William Roy Brownridge
The Orphan Boy, Paul Morin
The Paperbag Princess, Robert Munsch    
The Polar Bear’s Gift, Jeanne Bushey
The Root Cellar, Janet Lunn
The Secret of the Dance, Andrea Spalding
The Story of Canada, Janet Lunn
The World in Your Lunch Box, Claire Eamer
This Land, Kit Pearson
Underground to Canada, Barbara Smucker
Waiting for the Whales, Sheryl McFarlane & Ron Lightburn
Waves in the Bathtub, Eugenie Fernandes
West Coast Wild, Deborah Hodge; Karen Reczuch
What’s That Noise?, Michele Lemieux
Who Has Seen The Wind?, W.O. Mitchell
Wild Bog Tea, Annette LeBox
Witch’s Fang, Heather Kellerhals-Stewart
With A Silent Companion,Florida Ann Town
Word Nerd, Susin Nielsen
Wow Canada, Vivien Bowers & Dan Hobbs
You Are Stardust, Elin Kelsey

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking  by Astrid Lindgren

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

The book that I loved as a child, translated from Swedish, is now a classic. Does that show my age, too?
But really this story is ageless. As all good child protagonists, Pippi has no parents. At least not any that are in the picture. And as any child reader, I vividly remember wanting to live just like Pippi: to eat when and what I wanted. To only go to bed when I decided to. To have the freedom and the strength to make my own decisions. Pippi has even more strength than that. She can lift up her horse and do other amazing things that seem to perfectly fit the story.

Re-read this book, share it out loud with a child in your life! Re-live being a child in a book in which anything is possible.

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition (April 26 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142402494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142402498

Also check out Astrid Lingren‘s web page with wonderful information:
 IBBY, the International Board of Books for Young People, administers the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award:

Listen, Observe, and Steal!

Listening in on people’s conversations is not acceptable. Except if you are a writer and studying the way people express themselves.
Next time you are in a coffee shop, listen and observe: how do people interact? How do people of the same age chat with each other?
How do adults speak to children?
How do children talk to each other; to adults?
Is anyone having an argument?

Try to jot down some interesting lines or comments.
Now create a fictional dialogue between two people you spotted in the coffee shop. Perhaps one orders, and one works there.
Or have to friends talk to each other at a table.

This will help you to create realistic dialogue.

Find a Poem!

From my book: The Power of Poems, Maupin House

Just as you can find things that become treasures, you can find words that, put together, make a poem. 

Here is a piece of (prose) writing:
“When I was little, Grandma’s button box was my favorite toy.
I would sit on the floor by Grandma’s chair and she would bring me the button box. Gently, she’d bend down and put it by my feet on the carpet.
Slowly, I’d lift the lid and stare at the treasure—glittering, shim- mering jewels they were.  Shiny black eyes, golden coins and sparkling diamonds off princesses’ dresses.
Then I’d tilt the box, slowly, with both hands until the buttons poured out onto the carpet.  I’d shift them with my hands, let them run through my fingers in a cascade of colors.  I’d make piles and bulldoze them around the carpet.  I felt the buttons. They felt good.”
Now I am going to pick words from this piece of writing and put them into a poem.  I will underline the words I choose:
“When I   was         little Grandma’s button box was my favorite toy.
I would sit on the floor by Grandma’s chair and she would bring me the button box.  Gently, she’d bend down and put it by my feet on the carpet.
Slowly, I’d lift the lid and stare at the treasure—glittering, shim- mering jewels they were.  Shiny black eyes, golden coins and sparkling diamonds off princesses’ dresses.
Then I’d tilt the box, slowly, with both               handsuntil the buttons poured out onto the carpet.  I’d shift them with my hands, let them run through my fingers in a cascade of colors.  I’d make piles and bulldoze them around the carpet.  I felt the buttons. They felt             good
Now I put these underlined words into a poem.  Look:
I was little
her eyes sparkled
Both hands in my hands Grandma felt good.
I found a poem in a piece of prose!
Use any piece of your own writing for this activity. Find words and arrange them until you have found a poem.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

The rain forest is full of amazing animals, trees, vines and flowers. But one day a man enters the forest and the animals hold their breath. He is told to cut down the great kapok tree. The man tires and naps. While he sleeps the creatures take turns whispering in his ear what the tree means to each of them. When he wakes up, he gathers his axe and leaves. The forest can breath again.

This book – which looks at what the Kapok tree means to the creatures that live in it, and what rain forests mean to the world’s ecology – was at the forefront of the ecological movement and continues to resonate profoundly with children everywhere.

Beautifully written, with a strong message, this book can be enjoyed as a picture book and used in classrooms on many different levels.

Paperback, 40 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ISBN
0152026142 (ISBN13: 9780152026141)

Lesson Plan:

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living – by Mem Fox

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living  by Mem Fox

Mem Fox, internationally acclaimed children’s book writer and educator offers insights into the learning process, language education, and the pleasure, growth, and power that reading and writing can bring.
Some of her most well known titles include Possum Magic and Koala Lou, I Do Love You.
But this title is fabulous reading for any educator, including homeschooling parents. She explains how no child will ever get passionate about filling in the blanks, but how to turn anyone into an avid reader.

At the same time I should mention Mem’s book specifically at parents:

Reading Magic is a great guide to reading with children, now in a new and revised edition. Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read. With passion and humor, Fox speaks of when, where, and why to read aloud and demonstrates how to read aloud to best effect and get the most out of a read-aloud session. She discusses the three secrets of reading, offers guidance on defining and choosing good books, and–for this new edition–includes two new chapters on boy readers and phonics, a foreword, and a list of “Twenty Books That Children Love.” Filled with practical advice, activities, and inspiring true read-aloud miracles, this book is a turn-to classic for educators and parents.

I have often used these books as gifts for educators or new parents. Hope you love them.

Window by Jeannie Baker

Window by Jeannie Baker 

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, the picture book Window equals a thick novel! A wordless picture book with story telling possibilities for all ages, this is a book of environmental awareness.

One window frames an ever evolving view. First of a green back yard. But as the baby inside the home grows up, the yard has its own story. Diapers on the clothes line give way to toys and bikes, then a VW beetle. The walls show their age, trees disappear to make way for a new subdivision, stores and roads.

Eventually the boy is a grown up and moves into his own home, with his own family – to enjoy the view from a new window: of green and the promise of a more natural environment for his new baby.

Endless possibilities to discuss urban expansion, growing populations, preservation and threats to the environment! Combine this with Jeannie Baker’s wonderful collage art, and this book is a must for all classrooms.

“The effect human beings have on the landscape around them is the theme of Baker’s most recent tour de force….The artist’s multimedia collage constructions are, as ever, fascinating in their realistic detail and powerfully convey the dramatic message..”– Horn Book.

Hardcover, 32 pages, Greenwillow Books
ISBN 0688089186 (ISBN13: 9780688089184)

Lesson Plans:

Books for Earth Day!

Here are four books that are perfect to celebrate Earth Day with your students or family:

Product Details

MAKE A SPLASH! by Cathryn Berger Kaye and Philippe Cousteau.
This colorful book starts with an introduction to Philippe Cousteau’s famous grandfather Jacques and his groundbreaking research into the world of water. Following in his footsteps, and teamed up with educator Berger Kaye, Cousteau invites kids to learn more about water in its broadest sense.
Making A Splash touches on major concerns such as pollution, over-fishing, oil spills and climate change. Yet it does so in a child-friendly manner and gives kids tools to be positive, effective change-makers. The books shows how individual kids, as well as schools, have made a difference by taking action.
Through photos, colorful charts, interviews, and pictures it shows how much water we need, how we can work toward cleaner oceans and streams and what kids can do to protect wetlands. A fabulous new resource for all classrooms!

Product Details

GOING BLUE is a Teen Guide to Saving our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers and Wetlands. Similar to the previous book but aimed at an older audience, it gives teens much needed information on global, environmental issues while giving them realistic tools to make a difference.
With features across Asia, Africa and around the world this book brings awareness of critical issues concerning all aspects of water. Put this book in the hands of an environmental aware teen, especially one who loves scuba diving, and amazing things will happen!

Both books are published by Free Spirit:

Product Details

50 Climate Questions by Peter Christie, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Annick Press.

50 questions, and more importantly 50 answers, look at how climate has influences human and natural evolution. The book touches on environmental components like rain, wind, water. From mummies to poop, it investigates questions that curious kids will like and learn from.

Product DetailsThe Earth, by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson, illustrated by Bill Slavin, published by Kids Can Press.

This illustrated picture book looks at how we can be hurling through space at 100 000 KM/hr, why we have day and night, what earth looked like to dinosaurs and how earth is threatened by pollution. Touching on earth quakes, volcanoes and many other intriguing earthly features, this book will bring satisfaction to curious kids. ‘Try It’ activities add a fun but important component by giving young readers (and educators) activities to become scientists themselves.

Each of these titles will bring awareness of critical environmental information to young readers, giving them the power and tools needed to become concerned citizens who can make a difference to our precious earth! Happy Earth Day!