All posts by Margriet Ruurs

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Toward the end of the year we all look for books to share, read and give. Some of these titles are brand new, others are older. Some deal with holidays, others with winter. Happy reading!

Ramadan, The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zahanat Khan is a beautifully illustrated photo essay, a nonfiction picture book chockfull of information on the what, why, how and where of Ramadan. The book covers global traditions and includes personal stories, even recipes. ISBN 978-1-4598-1181-2, Orca Book Publishers

In the same Origins series as above, Christmas From Solstice to Santa by Nikki Tate and Dani Tate-Stratton is a joyful celebration of Christmas traditions around the world. This, too, includes personal stories and recipes as well as a glossary and additional resources. ISBN 978-1-4598-1355-7, Orca Book Publishers

Based on a real street in Toronto, Canada where many immigrant families settled, Birds on Wishbone Street by Suzanne Del Rizzo is a beautiful story  of people coming from different cultures. They share their food and their stories. But newly arrived Sami is not talking much. Until a bird needs his special attention and brings back memories and stories from home. Illustrated in clay and mixed media, the glorious art is a joy to explore. The book works on many different levels and even offers instructions on how to make your own winter bird treats. ISBN 978-1-77278-219-6, Pajama Press

Tiny Reindeer by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros is the wonderful tale of a reindeer so tiny that he is of no use to Santa or the other reindeer. He just gets into trouble. Until he learns of one little girl’s wish for the perfect tiny reindeer. Sneaking away in Santa’s sleigh Tiny Reindeer embarks on a big adventure and finds a loving home. ISBN 978-0-7352-7118-0, Tundra Books

The Christmas Pig is J.K. Rowling’s newest book. Reminiscent of classics like The Phantom Toll Booth and The Polar Express, this thick novel can be read aloud to all ages but, like Harry Potter, has its dark sides. Black & white art by Jim Field illustrates each chapter. Piggy is  Jack’s favourite stuffed animal because he has always whispered all of his secrets to it. But when his new stepsister, teenager Holly, tosses Jack’s trusted pig out of the car window, Jack falls asleep full of anger and tears. The adventures that follow feature toys and objects coming to life, whisking Jack away to the Land of Lost Things. Told in typical J.K. Rowling style, everything that happens seems quite plausible – objects, and feelings too, are sorted into ‘much loved’ or ‘barely missed’ things. If no human cared about them at all, these Things eventually will be eaten by the terrible, scary, voracious Loser. But if there is a glimmer of hope, they might rise again to live on earth among their beloved humans. Jack’s adventures, as well as the writing style, are brilliant. Towards the middle the story turns dark and quite scary in places but it has the feel of old fairytales that taught morals.               ISBN 978-1-338-79023-8, Scholastic. To read a more in-depth review of this book, click here: https://www.margrietruurs.com/jk-rowlings-new-book-the-christmas-pig/

Margriet Ruurs is a Canadian author of over 40 books for children. She shares her love of books and travel here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Language – perhaps your students speak several different languages. What is it like to learn a new one? And how does language influence what you do each day? Books and stories help develop proficiency in any language. These books, fiction and nonfiction, all take a closer look at different aspects of language.

Dee and the Apostrofee by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Ohara Hale. A fun book for kids who are not quite sure about Apostrofee’s powers. Which letters does he make lost? Does he really devour them? And are the letters right – is aphostrofee eating all the O’s? Is he stealing letters and does he make you the owner of things? A laugh-aloud language picture book to share in the classroom to teach grammar without the students even noticing. Kids Can Press, ISBN 978-1-5253-0326-5

Exclamation Mark

! (Exclamation Mark) is a hilarious picture book by Amy Rouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. ! feels different from everyone else. Period. Until someone shows up who has lots of questions – ? – and shows him his potential. ! is so excited he can’t wait to show his powers and make his mark! ISBN 978-0-545-4379-3, Scholastic

How To Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, with gorgeous art by Melissa Sweet, celebrates all things book. From curling up in just the right spot, to turning page by rustling page, with ‘words and sounds in leaps and bounds’… Comparing books to juicy clementines, art and text work together to create a book to sing and dance and chant along as you celebrate reading with kids. ISBN 978-0-06-230781-1, Harper Collins Children

The Word For Friend not only is the story of a child (a pengolin actually…) moving to a new country and having to learn a whole new language while going to school and wanting to make new friends. It is also the story of Esperanto, including real words in this global language. This story works on many different levels, including art (the two new friends make paper cuttings for each other). ISBN 978-0-374-31046-2, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.

Sugar Comes Arabic by Barbara Whitesides is a unique, user friendly beginner’s guide to letters and words in Arabic. The book is well designed and starts off gently to guide you through changing letters and words from English to Arabic, showing how each letter is formed. It makes me hopefully that I can learn a difficult new language. ISBN 978-1-56656-757-2

And a field which requires its very own lingo is that of advertisements. Mad For Ads by Erica Fyvie, illustrated by Ian Turner, is a book all students in Grades 4 and up should be made to read to ensure they are aware of how ads influence their daily life and the effects is has on their wants and needs. Language is important in this field, as are images and repetition. Touching on commercials but also on election campaigns, among others, the book includes a closer look at social media advertising. The book shows how brand names and logos work and how they effect your brain, your emotions, at whom TV ads are aimed, how your shopping habits are tracked and much more. An eye opener for both kids and adults! ISBN 978-1-5253-0131-5, Kids Can Press

Margriet Ruurs is the author of many books for children. She conducts author presentations and writing workshops at international schools and shares her love of travels and books here:

www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The sounds of science – these are all brand new picture books that deal with science: the science of sound and light. Share these books during science but also during social studies or just before music lessons.

Sounds All Around, the Science of How Sound Works by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Ellen Rooney. From natural sounds like the buzzing of a bee or the clap of thunder, to instruments and sirens – this book looks at how sounds happen and what they communicate. A nonfiction book for budding readers. ISBN 978-1-5253-0250-3, Kids Can Press

Listen Up! Train Song, by Victoria Allenby is a board book for toddlers, turning all train sounds into a song. A story to share aloud, teaching the importance of rhyme and rhythm in poetry while having fun with onomatopoeia. ISBN 978-1-77278-213-4, Pajama Press

My City Speaks, Darren Lebeuf, art by Ashley Barron is a lovely, colourful picture book for the very youngest readers about all things city. From mailboxes to construction sites, from city parks to sidewalk shops, a sight-impaired girl explores her city and its sounds. Complete with a heartwarming ending. ISBN 978-1-5253-0414-9, Kids Can Press

Lights Day and Night, The Science of how Light Works written by Susan Hughes, art by Ellen Rooney is a wonderful first guide to the science of light. It explains in simple terms how light travels, how light is absorbed or reflected. It tells of the difference between natural and artificial light. A glossary in the back gives more details on terms. The entire picture book is a perfect balance between text and art, story and science. ISBN 978-1-5253-0319-7, Kids Can Press

The Science of Song, How and Why we Make Music, by Alan Cross, Emma Cross and Nicole Mortillaro is a fascinating account of music, what it is and how we make it. From the oldest instrument (a bone flute of 40,000 years old) to rock star holograms, this new nonfiction title chronicles the history of music people have made over the ages, and how it works. Here, finally, is a book that especially music teachers will love! ISBN 978-1-77138-787-3, Kids Can Press

And speaking of sounds and music, here’s a novel about a musical legend, reviewed by teen-aged reader Matilda Colvin:  Kid Sterling by Christine Welldon.

It’s 1906 in America. Sterling Crawford, a 11-year-old trumpet-player, lives with his family in New Orleans. He’s set on learning from Buddy Bolden, an icon who is now remembered as a father of jazz. Being African American, Sterling also grapples with the devastating systemic racism of early-20th-century America. The story of Kid Sterling shines a light on the beginnings of jazz culture through its roots in oppression, solidarity, and courage. Its engaging narrative weaves coming-of-age and historical fiction to the soulfully defiant sound of a jazz trumpet. Kid Sterling is as much about the evolution of a vibrant genre as it is about one determined boy. Buzzing with jazz history and bursting with life, this book will be devoured by young music fans and aspiring jazz artists—as well as anyone who’s interested in the story of a creative kid with a dash of vivid history.  ISBN 978-0889956162, Red Deer Press

Margriet Ruurs is the Canadian author of many books for children. She shares her travels to international schools and her passion for books here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

global book recommendations

November 11, May 5 or any other date – many countries set aside one day a year to remember those who gave their lives for their country during a war. In the Common Wealth people often wear a poppy on their coat during November. Why? These beautiful picture books will help explain the stories of war to children and remind us not to forget.

Impressively, the following books were all written by one author: Linda Granfield. Born in the USA she is the Canadian author of many books for children including these beautiful wartime stories.

John McCrae served ‘in Flanders’ Fields’ when he wrote a touching poem during WWII. Since then his words have been memorized by generations. The beautifully illustrated picture book pays tribute to those who served and the legacy of a young soldier dealing with the horrors of war. Art by Janet Wilson. ISBN 9780773759251

The Vimy Oaks is the true story of a young soldier during World War I. Scared, lonely and frustrated, Leslie Miller mails home a handful of acorns from Vimy Ridge in 1916. Amazingly, these oaks still flourish in Ontario, Canada. A touching story about the human side of war. Illustrated by Brian Deines. ISBN 9781443148504, Scholastic

Memories of a soldier serving in Afghanistan blend with a grandfather’s memories of serving during WWII in this hardcover picture book, illustrated by Brian Deines. “This book really highlights the reality of what many soldiers have gone through during their time in Afghanistan. [It] touched my heart and brought me right back to those hot sunny days in the desert so far away from home and family.” says Master Corporal Christopher D. Russell, Canadian Forces Military Police. ISBN  9781443113564, Scholastic

So many soldiers lose their lives during a war. In the heat of battle their names and identities are sometimes lost. What if a person dies in a foreign country with no one to tend to their graves? This book looks at National Tombs of ‘unknown soldiers’ reminding us to never forget them. Complete with photos and background information boxes. ISBN 9780439935586, Scholastic

One of my favourite titles is High Flight – the beautiful poem written by another young British poet/soldier in 1941. Born in Shanghai, John Magee was only 19 years old when he wrote this poem while serving in the RCAF. ISBN 978-0887764691, Tundra Books

This book shares the recollections of over thirty men and women who served with the U.S. and Canadian forces in Korea during the years 1950-53. With a foreword by Russell Freedman, the veterans in this book represent a wide variety of army service areas, including medical, supplies, infantry, and naval. Their recollections are illustrated with their own personal photographs. The book attempts to understand the human face of war. Timeline, glossary, bibliography, Internet resources, index.  ISBN 978-0618177400, Houghton Mifflin

Linda Granfield also wrote: • Where Poppies Grow, A World War I Companion (ISBN 9780773733190, Trifolium Books; • Remembering John McCrae: Soldier-Doctor-Poet. Scholastic Canada

LEST WE FORGET

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

With Halloween and Día de los Muertos coming up, I can’t resist sharing some wonderful appropriate reads with you! These books are a treat, not a trick!

Brand new this Fall is a book that I immediately fell in love with: The Strangest Thing in the Sea by Rachel Poliquin, with art by Byron Eggenschwiler is brilliant. The clever text tells us about the strangest creature that lives in the ocean. But when you flip the flap over, it reveals the real amazing creature, together with lots of fascinating nonfiction information. But – this is not the strangest thing in the sea… So continues each page, each flap to reveal something even more bizarre. Vampire Squid, Goblin Shark, Yeti Crabs that resemble a pile of skulls… But guess what the strangest creature of all is, who could not survive its explorations of the deep sea without equipment and inventions… A beautifully executed picture book for deep sea lovers of all ages ánd fun to read at Halloween. ISBN 978-1-77138-918-1, Kids Can Press

FROM FAR AWAY by Robert Munsch. This might be Robert Munsch’s least well known book but it’s one of my favourites. He co-wrote this picture book with Saoussan Askar (age 9). She wrote a letter to Robert Munsch, of Love You Forever fame, to share her story of immigrating from Beirut, Lebanon. She was happy to live in a safe place, but when Halloween came around she was suddenly confronted with ghosts and skeletons in closets. Munsch skillfully turned her scary tale into a funny one that highlights differences in cultures and the difference a caring teacher can make. Great to share at this time of year! ISBN 1-55037-396-X, Annick Press

GHOSTS by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel. Its word choices and story content make this is a great story for slightly older readers. Catrina, her sister Maya who suffers from cystic fibrosis and their parents move to a new town. Catrina does not like it there. Nor does she like the town’s history full of ghosts, which is celebrated during Diá de los Muertos. Catrina is very hesitant to go out on Halloween night but she and her sister meet many ghosts who help change their perspective. ISBN 978-0-545-54062-9, Scholastic 

MARY WHO WROTE FRANKENSTEIN by Linda Bailey is the beautifully crafted background story of Mary who, as a little girl who learns to read by tracing the letters on tombstones. At age 19 she is challenged by Lord Byron and Percy Shelley to write a scary story. Mary Shelley ends up creating the most terrifying, and enduring, tale of all: Frankenstein. This gorgeous biography showcases captivating art by Júlia Sardá. A great book to use, even in high school, to discuss the origins of Frankenstein and where stories may come from. ISBN 978-1770495593, Tundra Books

global book recommendations

Books for athletes… Do reading and sports go together? When I conduct writing workshops in schools, I always love being able to involve the PE teacher in the reading and writing process. Here are new and long loved titles about sports!

The Thing Lenny Loves Most About Baseball

The Thing Lenny Loves Most about Baseball by Andrew Larsen, art by Milan Pavlovic, is the universal story of a kid dedicated to a sport he loves but isn’t very good at playing yet. But with the help of his dad, and sustained by his book of baseball facts, Lenny perseveres and, through practice, becomes a valuable member of his team.

ISBN 978-1-77138-916-7, Kids Can Press

On the Line

On The Line, Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Scot Ritchie, is the newly released story of Jackson, who comes from a long line of hockey heroes. Jackson’s not so sure he can live up to his family’s expectations. He feels like a potato on skates. But maybe his skills are not in skating but planning and organizing. When his team needs a plan, Jackson saves the day. A good story not just for hockey fans but to discuss each person’s different strengths and skills.

ISBN 978-1-77278-218-9, Pajama Press

Crocodiles Play! by Robert Heidbreder (2009-03-01)

Crocodiles Play! by Robert Heidbreder, art by Rae Maté.

In this fun, rhyming sports romp, the crocodile teams has their equipment and sports all mixed up. Theyplay basketball with bats, baseball with golf clubs and slam-dunk with ping-pong balls. The littlest readers will laugh aloud chant along with this silly poem picture book until the crocs get it just right.

ISBN 1-896580-89-0, Tradewind Books

The Farm Team

Ice hockey is not just for people. In Linda Bailey’s The Farm Team, illustrated by Bill Slavin, the farm animals just love to play but are not very good at it. Each year the coveted tea cup goes to the rough and tumble Bush League Bandits. Until the year when, after much practice, the Farm Team manages to outwit the wild animals and bring the cup home. An older read that remains hilarious for all hockey fans. 

ISBN 978-1-55337-850-1

Margriet Ruurs writes books for children and a blog about books and travel: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

GLOBAL BOOKS

The global Covid-19 pandemic has already led to new books to help children get a grasp of the unusual situation. These books may help educate but also help to realize they we are not alone in trying to cope in a difficult situation.

We Wear Masks

We Wear Masks by Marla Lesage is a picture book for very young readers, about masks of all shapes and sizes. Masks are worn by painters and pilots, in winter and underwater. You can wear a mask on stage or in a laboratory. Welders and superheroes wear masks. Wearing a mask is cool and means you care. Reading this picture book can be the start of making fun paper masks in class. ISBN 978-1459-828810, Orca Book Publishers

The Cow Said BOO!

Not specifically about Covid, but about communicable diseases in general and especially helpful in Kindergarten classes, The Cow Said Boo by Lana Button, illustrated by Alice Carter is a fun farm romp when poor cow catches a cold and can’t say ‘Moo!’ but says ‘Boo!’ instead. The other animals nurse cow back to health but once cow is better, rooster says “cock-a-doodle-CHOO!” A nonfiction back page talks about washing hands to prevent colds. ISBN 978-1-77278-216-5, Pajama Press

Talk to Me, What Do You See? Beauty and Joy from A - Z

Talk To Me, What Do You See? Beauty from A-Z by Sandip Sodhi, illustrated by Anika Sandhu uses the alphabet to focus on beauty in a time of unrest. Dedicated to frontline workers, this picturebook touches on washing hands, helping elders and staying connected. A lovely way to discuss Covid related anxieties with young students. ISBN 978-1-7770218-2-5

Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy)

Germy Science, The Sick Truth about Getting Sick and Staying Healthy, by Edward Kay with art by Mike Shiell is a new, nonfiction title about all things germy. What exactly are germs? Where are they found? Are there good germs as well as bad? The book includes a history of the discovery of germs and shows how we pass on germs every day. With hilarious, sometimes nice and gross, art this book is a good resource on how contamination happens and how to prevent it. ISBN 978-1-5253-0412-5, Kids Can Press

Don't Stand So Close to Me

Don’t Stand So Close To Me by Eric Walters is a good middle grade novel about the current pandemic. Based on recent events, the strength of this book is that young teens can recognize themselves and their families in this story. Suddenly faced with school closures, Zoom meetings and face masks, 13 year old Quinn and her friends learn to deal with a new reality. The story also shows how kids can take positive initiatives to help others. ISBN 978-1459827875 Orca Book Publishers

This link will show you even more children’s books about Covid-19 related issues:

https://torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/kids-books/

Margriet Ruurs is the author of 40 books for children. She conducts author visits to international schools and shares her love of travel and books here: https://www.globetrottingbooklovers.com/

GLOBAL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

What is home? Home means something different to each person – real readers but also to fictional characters in books. Through books about home, students can recognize themselves or come to appreciate what ‘home’ means for others. Happy Banned Book week!

Roger and Matthew by Michel Thériault  This is a lovely, quiet story of two gentle men. They were friends in elementary school and are still best friends. They are part of their community and enjoy nature. They were not always treated kindly because they are different. But they have now been accepted and love the life they lead in their home surrounded by a garden full of birds. ISBN 9781554554843, Fitzhenry & Whiteside

In a similar vein, Patricia Polacco tells the beautiful story In Our Mother’s House in which Marmee, Meema, and the kids are just like any other family on the block. In their beautiful house, they cook dinner together, they laugh together, and they dance together. But some of the other families don’t accept them because they are different. How can a family have two moms and no dad? But Marmee and Meema’s house is full of love. They teach their children that different doesn’t mean wrong. That living in a house full of love is always right. An older title but every bit as relevant. ISBN 978-0399250767, Philomel

My Words Flew Away Like Birds

And what if your new home is in a different country? What if you don’t speak the language? My Words Flew Away Like Birds by Debora Pearson, illustrated by Shrija Jain is a lovely story about a girl who moves to a new country. All the words she used to have she can no longer use. And the few words she learned in English proof not to be very helpful. People speak too fast and she can’t understand their tumbling words. Not only a story for kids who recognize this situation, but also a good story to see how easy it can be to help a newcomer.  Reminiscent of Aidan Cassie’s book The Word for Friend, this is a fun story to read as well as to start a classroom discussion. ISBN 978-1-5253-0318-0, Kids Can Press

The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner. This is one of my favourite middle school novels because it combines a good story with the skills of geocaching. Since his dad left him and his mom, ”Zig” Zigonski lives for simple circuits, light bulbs, buzzers, and motors. Electronics are, after all, much more predictable than people -especially his father, who he hasn’t seen in over a year. When his dad’s latest visit is canceled without explanation and his mom seems to be hiding something, Zig turns to his best friend Gianna and a GPS unit he finds at a garage sale. Convinced that his dad is leaving clues around town, Zig sets out to find him. But he soon discovers that people aren’t always what they seem . . . and sometimes, there’s more than one set of coordinates for home. An engaging story about hope and family. ISBN 978-1681198989, Bloomsbury 

Unravel by Sharon Jennings is a wonderful page turner for middle graders. Rebecca was raised by her single father. She’s turning into an avid reader but realizes that her life is unusual. They had no friends, she doesn’t go to school and they move suddenly many times. As Rebecca gets older the story of her life begins to unravel… Soon nothing is as it seemed. With the help of a new found friend, Rebecca discovers the truth behind her dad and their life together and ‘home’ will never be the same. ISBN 9780889956193, Red Deer Press 

Story Boat

But what if you are homeless? Story Boat by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Rashin Kheiiriyeh says that home is ‘here’ – wherever you are. Home can be a cup, or a blanket. Home can be ever changing as you move in search of a place to stay. The art in this new picture book depicts refugee families as they move along in search of a new home, treasuring shelter, a light, a book along the way.

ISBN 978-0-7352-6359-8, Tundra Books

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen is one of my favourite middle grade novels about homelessness because it shows, in a gentle way, how easy easily and how randomly, one can become homeless. Felix is twelve. His mom struggles to hold on to jobs. When she can’t pay the ever increasing rent, the two live in their van – just for one summer month. But when school starts in September, they still live in their van and Felix needs to keep their homelessness a secret. A realistic, endearing and almost humorous story about a very real problem that gets solved in unexpected ways.  ISBN 978-0735262775, Random House

Margriet Ruurs’ home is on Canada’s west coast where she writes books for children as well as a blog about her travels, paired with favourite books: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com

Global Books

In this column I share my favourite books to read aloud, curl up with and put into the hands of young readers. This week, a look at books about libraries and books.

The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians

The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians is perhaps my all-time favorite book about libraries. I can’t decide what I like more – the words by Carla Morris or the pictures by Brad Sneed; but the result of this combination is a heartwarming love song to librarians. Melvin grows up surrounded by books. The librarians encourage him to be curious and to look for answers in books and online. Their investment pays off in a perfect ending that I won’t give away. You will have to read this book for yourself.. or better yet, to your students. ISBN 978-1-56145-391-7, Peachtree

Library Lion

The Library Lion by Michelle Knudson, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, looks and feels like a classic. It’s the wonderful story of rules made to be broken, of a librarian who is not easily ruffled and of a lion who loves listening to story. A must-share with young readers in a school library! ISBN 978-0-7636-3784-2, Candlewick

Lady with the Books, The: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman

The Lady With The Books, Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Marie Lafrance is based on the true story of Jella Lepman, a German Jewish journalist who believed in building global friendship and understanding through children’s books. She traveled around war-torn Germany with a display of international books, and initiated the International Youth Library as well as IBBY, the International Board of Books for Young People, a global organization that still promotes children’s books around the world today. A wonderful fictional read complemented by nonfiction details in the back matter. SBN 978-1-5253-0154-4, Kids Can Press

It's a Book

It’s A Book, Lane Smith. A book doesn’t need a mouse, it doesn’t need to be charged. A book may not need wifi or be able to tweet, but a book can draw you right in. For hours… You may like a book so much that you don’t want to give it back. And even then you won’t need to charge it. Because it’s a book. A hilarious story to share out loud. ISBN 978-1-59643-606-0, Roaring Brook Press

A Child of Books

A Child of Books byJeff Oliver and Sam Winston is a fabulous ode to stories. The art is made of papers and typeset words. “I come from a world of stories, and upon my imagination I float…” shows a child on a raft floating on a sea of words that a reader will recognize from many classics. The book shows a world made from stories and lends itself to be read to children of all ages as well as used with high school art students. A great gift for booklovers of any age. ISBN 978-1-4063-5831-5, WALKER

The Undercover Book List

The Undercover Book List, Colleen Nelson is a fabulous middle grade novel. It’s a story grounded in a school library and books, focused on friendship. Jane loves to read but misses her best friend who moved away. Tyson is into video games and does not like to read. But through the secret messages left in books in their school library, both main characters change and make new friends. A great story for book worms and kids who have to move and make new friend. Also perfect for the teacher to read aloud.  ISBN 978-1-77278-187-8, Pajama Press

Rebel in the Library of Ever

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander is a fictional novel about Lenora who is curious. In magical, fantastical adventures she travels through the ages and around the globe, all entering a library. Hired as the Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian, Lenora climbs her way up the library ladder, through solving problems and risking her life for knowledge. ‘Knowledge is a Light’ is the library’s slogan, chiseled in stone, and Lenore knows it’s true, especially when she encounters dark forces who want to get rid of books and ban others from gathering knowledge through reading. In the sequel – Rebel of the Library of Ever – Lenore has to free knowledge from the shadows. Your upper elementary students will love these smart, sci-fi page turners. ISBN 978-1250169174, Imprint.

Ban This Book: A Novel

Ban This Book, Alan Gratz. No column about school libraries would be complete without this title which deals skillfully with the difficult topic of censorship of books in an elementary school library. While showing both  sides of the issue, Gratz leaves the power to solve the problem to the kids, especially to Amy Anne who loves her school library. The book also manages to show parental concern, the responsibilities of school boards and – most of all – the importance of having a real librarian in the school library and the influence books can have on a child’s life.   A great read, even for teachers. ISBN 978-0-7653-8558-1

Margriet Ruurs is the author of My Librarian is a Camel, a nonfiction book about unique mobile libraries around the world. She conducts author presentations at international schools.

My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World

GLOBAL BOOKS

Books About School

Children’s books, including picture books and novels, are not just for little ones. Some children’s books should be called ‘everybody books’. And some can be especially good for educators to read. Here are some that will work particularly well at the beginning of a new school year to share as read-alouds by librarians, classroom teachers, counsellors or administrators.

A wild and humorous book for school administrators to share with younger students, is the last book written by Dr. Seuss, finished by Jack Prelutsky: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. The principal worries that, if his students won’t pass the test, there may not be funding to keep their beloved school open. The classroom teacher and the librarian know better as they coax the students. A very funny read. ISBN 0-679-89008-4, Alfred A. Knopf

1, 2, 3 Off to School by Marianne Dubuc is the kind of picture book I would have savoured as a child. There’s lots of fun text, but it’s the images that you can study forever. Each double spread shows a school in a fairy tale setting: there’s Cattail Academy where frogs paint and sing. The sloths attend Sleepytime School and squirrels learn all they need to know at Lookout Heights. Throughout the pages, little Pom discovers how much fun kindergarten will be. She can’t wait to attend her own school. ISBN 978-1-5253-0656-3, Kids Can Press

Harley The Hero by Peggy Collins is based on a real classroom where the teacher has a service dog. The book celebrates the work of service animals and the normalization of neurodivergence. The author-illustrator brings Harley and his class to charming life and concludes with an Author’s Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley who goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe. Harley can’t play with the students while he’s wearing his work vest. They write him letters instead, and everything is perfect in the best, most quiet class in the whole school. Until the day the old stage curtains catch fire. As the fire alarm blares and chaos erupts, Harley remembers that Ms. Prichard isn’t the only human in his class who gets upset by loud noises. ISBN 978-1-77278-195-3, Pajama Press

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco is perhaps her best known book. This autobiographical story shows how the now prolific author struggled with reading as a child. Despite being surrounded by books she could not master the skill of reading until a patient, understanding teacher changed her life.  ISBN 0-399-23166-8, Philomel

By the same author, Patricia Polacco, is Mr. Lincoln’s Way – the story of an bully in Grade 5 and his principal. Despite personal lashings out, Mr. Lincoln finds a way to break through Eugene’s shield of anger by tapping into the boy’s one keen interest. Through books, patience and caring the two forge a bond that helps Eugene find his way.  ISBN 0-439-43011-9

Here is a picturebook recently self-published by teacher/librarian Sandip Sodhi: Ms. Chievus in the Classroom. Division O-O has so much misbehaviour that most teachers gave up. But not Ms. Chievus. She somersaults into the classroom and into the hearts of the rowdy students. In Pippi Longstocking-like fashion the teacher blows bubble gum bubbles and stands on her desk until the students teach her to behave better. A fun, turn-about way to discuss students’ behaviour in school. ISBN 978-1-7770218-0-1

Off To Class by Susan Hughes is a nonfiction book about the wide variety of ways in which children around the world get an education. From schools in refugee camps to finding text books in trash, this book shows the resilience of children and educators in many different countries.  ISBN 978-1-926818-86-3

The Report Card byAndrew Clements is a wonderful novel of a strong willed child who does not see the value of dividing students into ‘gifted’ and ‘hopeless’. She’s brilliant but wants to demonstrate how her best friend much feel when he gets D’s and she gets A’s. She does not want to stand out, blending in is much better. But when Nora fails her tests and the school librarian discovers the true level of her interests and knowledge, Nora has some explaining to do that might just lead to her teachers’ understanding of her concerns. Based on a true study, this is a timeless story. ISBN 0-439-67110-8

Margriet Ruurs is the author of many books for children including the nonfiction picture book MY SCHOOL IN THE RAINFOREST showcasing a variety of schools around the world including an international school, Boyds Mills Press, ISBN 978-1-59078-601-7