As you are doing your holiday shopping, we wanted to offer a gift guide that will help you find the perfect book for the young readers in your life!
You will also find some suggestions for gifts for educators & some suggestions for the gift giver… (why not treat yourself!):
Beautiful picture books that help start discussions about anti-racism:
Everyone is Welcome by Phuong Truong:
A little girl hears that her grandma’s friend, Mrs. Lee, was pushed on her way to the Asian market. Then she learns that Asian students at her brother’s school are afraid to walk to class, and she realizes something very wrong is happening to her community. How can life be so unfair? With her mom’s support and the help of her friends, the little girl sets out to do something kind for Mrs. Lee.
I Am BIG by Itah Sadu:
A celebration of size and Blackness and the magic of sport! In the middle of the ice, a young Black hockey player finds joy in his talent and confidence in the cheers of his family, his coach, and the other players. Their support gives him the power to face down those who see him as a threat and to focus on the thrill of the game.
Ron MacLean, Host of Hockey Night in Canada said "For a world trapped in a furious waterwheel, Itah deftly reveals it’s our possibility, small handful that we are, to dare to alter the course of the water. Freezing it, we become the handful which achieves the big goal."
Charming stories that illustrate the beauty and challenges of the immigrant experience:
The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Seen by Nadia Devi Umadat: A journey through the strange but often magical experience of moving to a new land.
A little girl sees her mother’s fear when war comes to their home. Fear is replaced with hope when they board a huge, shiny airplane. When it lands, they are somewhere new, and slowly, it comes to feel like home. There are many new experiences, like the beautiful, fluffy snow. And the shrill school bell that reminds the little girl of the noises of war her family left behind. But with time and love, her family embraces their new life, and it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen.
The Doll by Nhung N. Tran-Davies:
A simple act of kindness welcomes two little girls, both refugees, to a new home generations apart. A young girl and her family arrive in an airport in a new country. They are refugees, migrants who have travelled across the world to find safety. Strangers greet them, and one of them gives the little girl a doll. Decades later, that little girl is grown up and she has the chance to welcome a group of refugees who are newly arrived in her adopted country. To the youngest of them, a little girl, she gives a doll, knowing it will help make her feel welcome.
Books for young readers who want to hear the stories that have been left out of the history books:
Obaasan’s Boots by Lara Jean Okihiro and Janis Bridger:
They had everything taken from them because they were Japanese. Lou and Charlotte don’t know much about their grandmother’s life. Their obaasan invites them to spend time with her, sharing her experience as a Japanese Canadian during WWII and a painful story of their family's internment. The girls begin to understand how their identities have been shaped by racism, and that history is not only about the past.
Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust by Sarah Silberstein Swartz:
Discover nine ordinary women who took extraordinary measures to save lives during the Holocaust, resisting terror and torture while undercover or in hiding, in concentration camps, in forests, and in exile.
With compassion and admiration, author Sarah Silberstein Swartz paints portraits of women who stood up for themselves and others in dangerous times. Overlooked by history, they leapt from fear to action with bravery that deserves recognition.
"These personal stories are illuminating and powerful, offering ways for readers to connect with and understand the past. Swartz writes from a feminist perspective, questioning why these heroic figures went unsung and frequently even unmentioned while male heroes received praise and recognition... Phenomenally done and more necessary than ever."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Adventure stories for young readers with female leads (and history mixed in!):
Hidden on the High Wire by Kathy Kacer:
From celebrated author Kathy Kacer comes the story of Irene, a young Jewish girl raised at the circus in Nazi Germany, who must perform the balancing act of her life to keep herself and her mother alive.
A Terrible Tide by Suzanne Meade:
In two hours, all she knew was washed away. When an earthquake and tidal wave batters Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula and destroys her family’s home, thirteen-year-old Celia must dig deep for courage she didn’t know she had.
Bernice and the Georgian Bay Gold by Jessica Outram:
Brave Bernice is ready for an adventure! It's the summer of 1914, and eight-year-old Bernice lives with her family in a lighthouse on Georgian Bay. One day she finds a treasure map pointing to gold on a nearby island. Inspired by her beloved Mémèr’s stories of their Métis family’s adventures, Bernice sets out in a rowboat with the map and her dogs, determined to find the treasure.
Fans of young reader mysteries!
The Mighty Muskrats Mystery Series by Michael Hutchinson:
The Mighty Muskrats are ready for another adventure! There are now four books in this beloved series about four Cree cousins from the Windy Lake First Nation. The latest is The Case of the Rigged Race: when a dog-sled race at the annual Trappers Festival turns into a mysterious whodunit, the four cousins must solve the case and help the lead dog to victory!
Rachel Bird by Becky Citra:
Sometimes family can surprise you. A compelling mystery about teenage Rachel and her sister who move in with the grandparents they never knew. They soon learn their newfound family isn’t the only secret being kept on the ranch.
Chapter books for young readers with female leads (that help navigate cultural and social anxieties that come with growing up!)
Alina In a Pinch by Shenaaz Nanji:
A charming story about a young girl struggling at a new school and learning to be brave by embracing her heritage through food.
The Journal of Anxious Izzy Parker by Alma Fullerton:
Eight-year-old Izzy Parker’s biggest problem is feeling anxious and afraid. Her mom’s decision to move them across the country to Prince Edward Island didn’t help. In her honest, awkward, and anxious journal, Izzy writes down the story of her life and how she is trying to be a little less afraid.
For young non-fiction lovers who just need to know more!
Pride & Persistence: Stories of Queer Activism by Mary Fairhurst Breen:
The activists between these pages have stood up for the queer community, whether on their own behalf or in support of people they love. Some made a difference by confronting injustice; others dared to be fully themselves.
World Shakers: Inspiring Women Activists by Helen Wolfe:
What does it take to change the world? Whether it was the rule that forced Muslim women athletes like Ibtihaj Muhammad to choose between competition and wearing hijab or Indigenous women like Mary Two-Axe Earley to lose their official Indigenous status when they married white men, these women made change happen.
She’s a Mensch! Ten Amazing Jewish Women by Anne Dublin:
From the poorest neighborhoods in Kenya to the halls of the Canadian Supreme Court, the Jewish women found in these pages have accomplished remarkable feats. Some survived the horrors of the Holocaust while others had more peaceful childhoods, but all of them saw unfairness in their world and decided to do something about it.
Govern Like a Girl: The Women Who Became Canada’s First Ministers by Kate Graham:
From Indigenous premiers, Eva Aariak and Nellie Cournoyea, to Premier and later Senator Catherine Callbeck of Prince Edward Island, to Québec's first female premier, Pauline Marois, these powerful women changed Canada for the better and showed the world how to govern like a girl.
Books that celebrate Indigenous heritage, culture, art, and joy! All available in dual-language editions!
Naaahsa is an Artist! / Naaahsa Aisinaki! by Hali Heavy Shield:
A young girl celebrates her grandmother’s art and the connection between them. “Naaahsa says art is a language everyone understands. Sometimes we make art together. We draw, we bead, we sing. Sometimes Naaahsa tells stories in Blackfoot. I even get to go with her to see her art show at the National Gallery. Naaahsa is famous for her art, but I love her hugs best”. Available in the Blackfoot and English dual-language edition.
Auntie’s Rez Surprise / okāwīsimāw omēkiwin askīhkānihk ohci by Heather O'Watch:
Auntie always greets Cree in Nehiyaw when she comes for a visit. When Auntie arrives with a surprise gift hidden in her bag, Cree can’t wait to discover what it is. The first clue? It’s from the rez. As Cree tries to figure out what it might be, the bag starts to move. Cree is thrilled when the bag opens and out jumps a rez puppy! Available in Plains Cree and English dual-language edition.
Runs with the Stars / Wiijibibamatoon-anangoonan by Darcy Whitecrow & Heather M. O’Connor:
A young child learns from their grandfather about the Ojibwe Horses, what it means to be the animal’s caretakers, and the importance of protecting this endangered species. Available in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and English.
Phoenix Gets Greater / Phoenix Ani' Gichichi-I' by Marty Wilson-Trudeau & Phoenix Wilson:
A delightful and gentle story about a young Two-Spirit Indigenous child celebrating his identity, overcoming bullying, and bonding with his family. This dual-language edition contains the story in both Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and English.
Feel-good read-alouds for all families:
Vee In Between by Valerie Kaiyang Wood:
When Vee was nine months old, her parents flew to China to adopt her. But when she struggles to keep up in Chinese dance class and a woman at the grocery store makes Vee feel like she doesn’t belong, her white parents don’t always understand.
Nonna and the Girls Next Door by Gianna Patriarca:
A young girl learns to overcome her jealousy of the girls next door as she begins to appreciate her bond with her grandmother.
The Girl Who Hated Books, 25th Anniversary Edition by Manjusha Pawaji:
Meena hates books! When she accidentally knocks over a stack, out tumbles an assortment of characters. But for them to find their way back into their proper books, Meena has to read!
Cozy and inclusive queer reads:
Ciel by Sophie Labelle:
Ciel, a gender non-conforming transgender kid with a popular YouTube channel, navigates high school, friendship, and a long-distance relationship.
Ciel in All Directions by Sophie Labelle:
Life is anything but ordinary for non-binary trans teen Ciel and their friends Stephie and Liam, from growing their YouTube channel to campaigning for their school’s LGBT Alliance!
Wish Upon a Satellite by Sophie Labelle:
The glaciers are melting and the climate crisis is on everyone's mind, but nothing shakes the foundations of non-binary teen Ciel’s world more than sharing an unexpected kiss with their best friend, Stephie.
The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen:
Alison, desperate to be high school valedictorian, agrees to produce her school play and must navigate the drama that ensues including her crush on Charlotte, the star of the play.
Gifts for Educators, to help support difficult conversations:
Like Cats and Dogs by Mélanie Perreault:
Rosalie’s parents fight like cats and dogs, even now that they’re divorced. It’s hard going from one house to another and knowing that although she loves them both, her parents just don’t get along anymore. But there’s one thing her mom and dad do agree on: they both love Rosalie, and Rosalie is here to stay!
What Does Hate Look Like? by Corinne Promislow & Sameea Jimenez with Larry Swartz:
How do we talk about hate that hurts? Real kids from real classrooms share their stories to help us to see the bias, prejudice, violence, discrimination, and exclusion around us—what hate looks like to them. Why? So we can stand against hate and never be the cause of it. And to show us how to cope and get support if we have been hurt.
TA-DA! A Story of Egg Donation by Ella Kay:
A heartwarming, clever, and educational story about a little girl learning how she was made with the help of an egg donor.
Why not treat yourself to some of our adult titles?!
Whale Fall by Ann Lambert (read The Russell & Leduc Mystery Series):
When an environmental protest takes a dark turn, Marie Russell and Detective Inspector Roméo Leduc must abandon their idyllic honeymoon to solve another riveting murder.
More Than a Footnote: Canadian Women You Should Know by Karin Wells:
From a cellist to a computer scientist, an oncologist to an explorer, More Than a Footnote profiles women in history who made a difference despite being excluded and overlooked.
Nights Too Short to Dance by Marie-Claire Blais:
René, a trans man, confronts age and illness on a winter’s night. Charismatic as ever, he is surrounded by friends and lovers. They look back over a century of struggle—Stonewall, the AIDS epidemic—and realize it’s not over. But neither is the love. Blais, a queer literary icon, brings to life pivotal moments in the fight for queer rights.
Fractured: A Memoir by Susan Mockler:
Susan Mockler’s physical and psychological journey after a car accident left her partially paralyzed is an illuminating look at healthcare, ableism, and Susan’s acceptance of the mantle of disability activist.
Any Kind of Luck At All: A Memoir by Mary Fairhurst Breen:
A bittersweet memoir of "radical acceptance," filled with scenes of courage and activism, from a life in the shadow of four generations of mental illness and addiction.
Happy holidays, everyone!